To say the least, teaching is exhausting. When I first started in August, I have never been so tired in my entire life. I was climbing into bed before 8 pm! I also started to feel my tension from work in my shoulders, neck, and hips. I typically don’t get stressed, but I could feel the tension taking over my body.
In November, I started taking hot yoga at Yoga One. I’ve practiced yoga a few times before, but my colleagues convinced me to start going with them at 6 am twice a week before heading in for the day. Soon I become a full on yogi practicing every day. My practice became more than a way to exercise but a way of life. Especially within the past month, I have realized how much my practice has affected my teaching.
Getting practice in at 6 am is killer. I am not a morning person, so this only ends up happening once or twice a week. However, when I am able to commit to practice in the morning I start my day energized, positive, and productive. Starting your day on a good note is SO important for a teacher. I also realized I am more patient with my students when practicing in the morning.
Most days I do not make the 6 am practice and end up going after work. This time on my mat after work has turned some of my worst days completely around. We are taught to breath into the spots of our body where we hold tension. When we breathe out, our problems are supposed to go out with it. I know it sounds crazy, but I have learned to direct my breath to places of tension especially my shoulders. No matter how bad the day, I always leave my hour practice feeling better about a situation. This has helped me get rid of anger for a disrespectful student, the feeling of failure for a student I couldn’t help, and anger for a colleague who has views different from mine. The tension in my shoulders, neck and hips are also gone. It’s helped me realize that I shouldn’t take things personally and every day is a new start. It has become my release.
Learning to breathe has also helped my patience in class. When teaching high schoolers, it is really easy to become frustrated. Once I learned how to control my breathing, I stopped becoming frustrated and created a more welcoming class environment.
Yoga has also helped me inspire and motivate my students. I am constantly listening to my teachers and trying to improve. Yoga teachers are constantly trying to motivate their classes, and a lot of what they say relates to teaching.
“Every practice is a different experience” This holds true in the classroom. No matter how bad the day, the next day is a brand new start. I use this in my teaching, but also to motivate my students. Every day they have a chance to succeed. It’s up to them what experience they take from class.
“Be satisfied with the effort you put in.” I show up for my students 100% every day. I tell my students that it’s up to them how much effort they want to exert in class. If they are satisfied with exerting 50% and earning a B then great. They take ownership of their decisions. The teacher can only push them so far and the rest is on them . No one wants to look back on their life and think “Things could have been different if…. ”
Yoga has become a huge benefit in my life. It has helped me find balance. It has helped my focus in work and interactions and has helped me see things through different points of views. It’s crazy how breathing and stretching and exerting energy can have such a positive impact. I highly recommend yoga for any teacher. Since practicing, I have seen a positive change in myself and in my classroom.