Thursday I taught my own yoga class. I know, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but there was something stopping me from doing it for a while and it was time. Yes, it’s yoga, it’s calming, relaxing, etc. however, if you have ever taught your first yoga class, as funny it sounds … yoga becomes undeniably scary.
Just as “first’s” often do, there was an influx of butterflies and thoughts of fear … but is it really fear?
We have all heard a lot of cool quotes in our life. Some that really stick and become a part of you in a way and it’s usually the most simple of reminders that can have the biggest impact. For instance: “Fear is simply excitement without breath.” – Robert Heller I love that quote.
The morning of the upcoming class, I had those moments of insecurity in the potential of failure that comes any time you are about to get up in front of a bunch of people, but then I reminded myself of the great power that comes from doing something for the first time. The realization, that today you get the opportunity to do something you have never done before. Something new, means something is changing. That’s not scary, that’s kind of exciting (o.k. maybe a little scary). But even if there is fear, today is the day you get to conquer it … and it will never be your first time again. It will only get better from here. There is a certain comfort in this thought, I promise. Yes, sometimes you may have to tell yourself this 100x, but it is true.
So, how can you apply what you read in that quote into action and not have a panic attack at the thought of getting up in a bunch of people who will be listening to you for the next hour?
First of all, don’t drink 5 cups of coffee.
Secondly, what I usually do is I ask myself “am I breathing.” Usually when I check in, I find that my breathing kind of all over the place. I then sit down and get thing breathing thing under control. “Ahhh. Much better.”
Excitement and fear have a lot of the same physical reactions and so your body is just trying to help you by stimulating your nervous system to respond to fear. Unfortunately, this causes those feelings of panic, you forget everything you know, and feeling like you are going pass out (this happened to me at my first corporate job before my first presentation… not good) and have thoughts like “I cannot do this!”
By paying attention to your breathing, you tell your nervous system, “I got this … chill out. Today is just a first, we’re excited, not scared … no one in the yoga class that is going to kill us. It’s yoga (or a presentation, or a job interview for a new job, or the first time you run a marathon, whatever). There is no need to freak out.” Tell that to your body that is reacting as if someone in the yoga class is going to kill you … seriously, tell it. It will eventually listen.
So, the next time you have a first, rather than studying your notes, or taking one last lap around the block, stop. Sit down. Breathe. You are about to have ‘a first’, enjoy it, only happens once … and remember‘firsts’ are an indication that things are changing. Things are happening. Pretty exciting right? One thing, to remember, just breathe through it so you don’t pass out. ESPECIALLY if it’s a yoga class. Breathing the most important part, not only for your students, but for you, especially if it’s your first time.