I am a new yoga teacher, having just completed my teacher training last year in Ubud. And, I choose one of the most competitive yoga markets in the world to start my career. I did so with full knowledge that it would be difficult to teach. In the end, I enjoyed living in Ubud, and that was enough for me. Let the cards fall where they may.
So, to get my practice teaching in, I have been forcing some friends to take free private classes. I taught Balinese high school students for a few months as a volunteer teacher. More recently, I have managed to teach some private sessions, which went really well.
But, the apex of my introduction to yoga teaching has come through teaching some free Community Yoga at The Yoga Barn Bali.
Back in March 2010, I took my very first yoga class at the Yoga Barn Bali. Back then, it was a quaint studio, with two small rooms and views over the rice paddies. Since then, the Barn has expanded immensely, with three additional studios, a second reception, an Ayurvedic spa, a cafe, and accommodations. You name it, the Barn has it. It is the epicenter of the yoga movement in Ubud. It was where my yoga journey began. It was where I completed my training. It is where I have been practicing yoga for over a year with some amazing teachers.
And, I got to teach there.
Okay, it was a free class, and I was not paid for teaching, but I still considered it a huge success. In fact, it was the first official, large yoga class I taught.
I created my playlist a week in advance, and my sequence several days in advance. I practiced the sequence. I made Eric practice the sequence. I practiced the sequence again. I wrote out a theme to begin the class. I prepared. I lost sleep. I was nervous.
I arrived about 20 minutes before class. I had 2 primary stresses: 1) no one would show up; and 2) I could not get the sound system to work. My friend and Yoga Barn staple, Murni, helped me with the sound system. Then, friendly faces started to arrive. Of course, Eric was required to be there, but other friends joined to support me as well. But, they weren’t the only ones. So many people showed up that a few minutes before start time, we were out of yoga mats. The staff downstairs brought more.
As I raced around trying to ensure spots for everyone who was arriving, two friends, Emerald and Michaela, showed up in “Amber Hoffman Super Fan” t-shirts. I felt so loved.
The class began, and I started with my theme. Something about why people come to Ubud. Why I came to Ubud. Letting go of something that doesn’t serve you anymore. Releasing toxins. People seemed to follow along. People nodded. I was not too nervous about the public speaking part of it. I thought about my prior life, when my speeches generally involved tax law stuff in front a group of tax attorneys and tax accountants. This felt so different, but also felt so right.
After the class joined me in a sound of Om to start the practice, I moved everyone into child’s pose. That was when the trials and tribulations of teaching yoga began. I attempted to cue the group into their warm up sequence, using a calm, clear voice, while starting my music playlist, and while welcoming about ten more students to class. I had to find room for them, asking others to adjust their mats to make room. I figured if I could survive that first 10 minutes, the rest of the class would be a breeze.
In the end, I had 63 people in that class. My very first yoga class, and there were 63 people! The room was fairly packed, making it difficult to walk around during class. My cues were almost on autopilot. I flubbed a few lefts and rights, but managed to remember my sequence without using my notes. Most important, I got people up and moving, sweating, breathing, and yes, they probably released some toxins in a sweaty twist or two. I played fun music, had people dancing a bit in chair, people laughed at some of my jokes.
Suddenly 45 minutes had passed and it was time to slow down and cool down, with a move to the mat. Some long final stretches, and supine twists, and next thing you know 63 people were lying flat on their backs, palms up, legs relaxed, and eyes closed, while I played a chanting mantra, allowing people to relax into Savasana, the final relaxation.
The class was over as quick as it began. I succeeded in teaching 63 people in a class at The Yoga Barn. It felt so right. I felt at home.
The following month, I did it all over again. This time, with only 44 people. This time, a little less nervous, I went into the class with less preparation and less fear.
What felt great was noticing when people actually responded to what I said. When on their bellies, lifting their shoulders into a back bend, I asked the class to inhale and left a little higher. You know what? They did. When I asked people to rebend their front knee in reverse warrior, they did that too.
At the end of each class, there was applause. I am pretty sure that it was my friend, Susan, who started the applause, but others joined in. One person told a friend it was the best class she ever took and asked when I was teaching again. People wanted to chat after class, asking for advice on injuries or how to get into a particular pose. I felt like a real teacher for the first time.