Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dementors at 8:15 p.m.

Last night, while teaching my 8:15 p.m. class, I had a moment where it literally felt like a dementor (ala Harry Potter) showed up and sucked the living life out of all my students - somewhere in the awkward series. And there I was, a stand-in for Harry himself having to find a way to breathe life back into 16 people. And then once they were 'back' it happened again. And again. Up and down, up and down....

This seems to be a late-night class phenomenon. What is funny is that often, breathing at the beginning nearly knocks my socks off! The energy is amazing, often I think people are just so happy and proud of themselves for getting to class at that hour. I know I would be, practicing that late after a likely long day. But then the truth sets in, and the long day aftermath hits, and the energy plummets awfully fast. This is no diss on my students, let me be clear, but as a teacher, it is so interesting to me.

And to the students, who knows - most of us in class truly have a personal experience. Sometimes, as a student, I do notice the room feeling really bright with energy or happiness, and conversely, I have felt days where it feels sluggish or just tired in the room. As a student, you just refocus on your own practice and let all that other stuff in the room go. But to observe as a teacher, and to feel a responsibility to help the situation or fix it, it's a whole different story.

So what do you do? Well, I'm learning - still a new teacher. So last night, I let the folks know that though all the heaters were on, most were set to "fan" not to "heat" and that I was aware it was the 3rd class in a row in the room, and the room was plenty hot. I cracked a window here and there. I gave a pep talk or two and joked around a little bit to lighten the mood. But mostly, I just kept the ball rolling and worked to keep my energy up in hopes of lifting theirs. I think in the end, that's about all you can do in those situations. It is a little scary, truth be told, to feel like your class is falling apart in a way - but in my mind, I just say to myself, "It's your job to not let that happen. Adjust something, make them feel cared for and show that you are paying attention to them!" When I'm suffering in class, personally, it's amazing what a little acknowledgment from the teacher will do to pick me back up. ("I know you are all working so hard, you're doing great - stay with it!" etc.)

What about you? What does your teacher(s) do to bring you back from the dark side??

I'd love thoughts from other teachers or other students on this one! It's just like the yoga, a continuous process of learning and growing and trying out different things :)


Jacqueline said...

Hi Jen,

What really keeps me going when it feels like this-is-the-end-of-my-life-get-me-out-of-here is when the teacher addresses me in person. By actually REMEMBERING my name! Like, you're doing a great triangle, it is soooooooooooo nice and encouraging to hear the teacher say: beautiful posture Jacqueline. Even though it's just 3 or 4 words in that 90 minutes, they will get me through a tough class!

heidi jo. said...

i have experienced this time and again, especially since i regularly take the 8.15 pm class here at our studio. what i find helps me is when the teacher gives us two extra seconds to catch our breath in the standing series- and says something to the effect of "you have so much more energy than you are aware of right now, tap into it" and maybe something else to the effect of being content with whatever your practice is for that day- not judging your experience but just letting go and trying to enjoy wherever your mind and body are at for that day. you sound like a great teacher, and it's been so fun watching you get there! i'm on my way to training here in 15 days! can't believe it....

love and light,
heidi jo

Jenise said...

Jenn, thank you for your support as always! just heard some crazy news that Bikram is planning on teaching the entire time in the Fall and that Craig resigned!! yikes! Have you heard anything?

Eric said...

In my practice I've always benefited from the firm, but fair, verbal push. During my first six months as a student I was terrified to kick my leg out during Standing Separate Leg/Head to Knee. I had managed to keep my standing leg locked, but I was accustomed to freezing there... as if I couldn't balance there forever. One night my instructor told me (by name) to kick my leg out. The effect was magic. I did what she said, and though I soon lost my balance after both legs were locked, I felt like I had emerged from a cave.
Thank you for the great blog.

Tarah said...

hey jenn, can't believe it's taken me this long to write... been enjoying your blog since spring training started. i completely understand, and have found simple, sincere comments to be great spirit lifters. as soon as the students feel good, i feel good as their teacher. if you're ever in atlanta, come see me! tarah

Oriana said...

Hi Jen!
Just saw your blog for the first time. interestin thoughts I think. I´m practicing in Malmo, Sweden, and our loved teacher is very personal with everyone. She remembers names, faces, peoples injuries and gives feed back during classes aswell as after class. But the best thing is that she knows a lot about the human body and the mind. When the energy in the room drops, she always reminds us about ALL the benefits of each posture! And then you really want and push yourself a little more "to put you exact forehead on your exact knee"!!

Love from Oriana

Duffy Pratt said...

Once, when I was about to take the floor for the second set of Triangle, Zeb (who was a favorite of yours from teacher training and is an outstanding teacher) said in the most gentle tone "Stay with us, Duffy." The tone of genuine concern, the gentle prodding, and the personal attention totally turned that class around for me.

In another class, which may have been my worst class ever, the teacher rewarded my efforts at the end in Spinal Twist by actually giving me a hands on boost in the pose. It felt wonderful and as a terrific reward. It made up for an otherwise awful class. I know Bikram teachers generally don't do hands on corrections, but I love it when they do.

Another big favorite in classes is, during the supine savansanas (back strengthening series) a couple of teachers will step gently on the arches of a student's feet, giving an impromptu foot massage that just feels like heaven.

I really enjoyed your blog, and hope you continue to post about your teaching experiences.

The Bikram Bomb said...

Opening the door usually works for me.