August 27, 2017

5 Tips for the Highly Sensitive Yoga Teacher.

I just finished my yoga teacher training.

It was actually my second 200-hour training—nearly four years later.

After I took my first training, I was terrified of stepping in front of a class—I wanted nothing to do with teaching.

It was this second training with my teacher that reminded me the very things that scared me off from teaching were the same reasons why I had to work with my fears and step back into teaching with renewed commitment.

After the first training, I felt like a failure. I’d spent all this money on a training and was too terrified to use it. What was wrong with me?

I did try to teach after that first training. I subbed a handful of classes and walked out feeling like my students deserved something better. This was when I walked away from teaching with lost faith, telling myself it wasn’t meant to be.

It was right around this time that I was in my first year of my Forrest (now Earth Ways Yoga) practice, beginning to work with what it means to be an ultra-sensitive on the spectrum of the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Nothing was wrong with me. The reasons I failed at connecting to teaching were that I had no clue how to take care of myself as a highly sensitive yoga teacher.

I’m lucky to have a yoga teacher who has worked with me to teach me that the sensitivity that almost knocked me out and drove me away from teaching is also the gift that yoga students need. 

Highly Sensitive People sense and feel more deeply than many might imagine. The sheer depths of sensing can overstimulate the Central Nervous System to the point of chaos.

It is the very same sensing and feeling that makes us embodied teachers, more deeply connected to how we embrace our relationship to the yoga postures and the voice and imagery—the creativity—we use to teach them to students.

In working with my sensitivity, I’ve solidified who I am as a teacher and why I need to be teaching. It feels right. I don’t question it. However, if I’m not acting in integrity with my sensitivity and respecting my needs as an HSP, I’m not showing up for my students as the best teacher I can be.

Commitment to these five tips is crucial to my ability to teach in perpetuity in care and keeping of my own needs as an HSP.

>> Grounding in nature before I teach. The pace of society moves at hyper-speed. The rhythm of nature ultimately teaches us to come back to our own natural rhythm.

>> Community. When I am struggling as a sensitive and feeling like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, I am historically excellent at pushing people away. I don’t want them to see me in my suffering. My yoga community has taught me to let people in. They’re my chosen family. They’ve helped me build trust in my support system.

>> Teaching in authenticity. The best classes I’ve taught have a theme that speaks to something I’m working with in my own life. The stronger my relationship to what I’m teaching, the more likely my students will resonate.

>> Trusting in what I know (and what I don’t). The more I trust in myself, the more my students trust in me and in their ability to show up for themselves in practice.

>> Resting after teaching. I have a history of pushing through everything until burnout knocks me on my back in bed for days. Embracing the pause and the time to recharge after every class helps me to recharge my batteries and to feel more fulfillment after every class I teach.


Author: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Lena Bell/Unsplash
Copy Editor: Emily Bartran
Social Editor: Emily Bartran

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