About 4:15 today, I got the panic call from the coordinator at the fitness center where I'm scheduled to do my first intro to yoga class. They needed a sub for the 5:15 advanced class.
The class is a group of regulars who meet for a weekly flow class. I was informed that the regular instructor doesn't use music, the class has been together for quite some time. I agreed to come over early and learn the logistics for the class (punch cards, student names, etc.) and where the control for the lights was located.
I greeted the class, asked about injuries (one back, one knee). As quickly as I could, I surveyed to see the level of the students -- which was a combination of eying the initial postures before settling in and the initial dialog with the students. The general request was to go somewhat easy on the class as they hadn't met for a few weeks, and this was the first day back to work.
There really wasn't a lot of planning time to put together a formal set of sequences, so I basically put the first two together in my head on the way over to the fitness center, and made up the third on the fly. Fortunately, I've taken a lot of flow classes so I had a pretty good repertoire from which to assemble the sequences. I only made one error in symmetry, forgetting a triangle pose on the second side. The obviously most advanced student in the class called out the pose for us, and I thanked him, inserted the pose, and finished the sequence.
We did a couple of balance poses, then I asked if there were any finishing poses the class would like to do. There was a request for plow, shoulder stand, and pigeon. Overall, the postures looked pretty good. However, I really had wanted the class to ease into pigeon, and I saw some of the students sort of hurriedly go toward the floor (without the best form). I'm not sure if the pace was a little slow, or if they took me up on the statement that we "weren't doing synchronized yoga today."
Finally, I offered the class the opportunity to do any final poses their bodies called for in prep for savasana. Most folks did some twisting poses with their legs.
We had ample time for savasana (I left just over 5 mins for a one hour class) and the class rested peacefully with very little restless movement. I thanked the class for the hard work, their energy, and the honor and privilege of guiding their practice...Namaste.
In general, I was pleased with the outcome. From the feedback I received, the class was at the right pace, and folks thanked me for substituting. I sensed that people felt better at the end of class rather than at the beginning.
I figure that I've been through one of the most challenging situations a yoga teacher might face. First of all, I was substituting for a regular class with a regular teacher. It was a class where people had obviously taken a good bit of yoga, based on their knowledge and skill. It was my maiden voyage. And, there was basically no time to prep. If I can do this, then I think other teaching opportunities can only be easier.
I only did one little "dance" step at the beginning of class. One of the students asked me where I was currently teaching. I told her that I wasn't currently teaching at another studio, but was getting ready to teach a 10-week beginner course in the same facility where we practiced today. (There was no way I was going to tell them it was my first time teaching a yoga class!)