After jetting about Asia for another three and a half months it was finally time for me to settle myself in the little town of Kampot and transition back to being a teacher. This time the role was a little different, although I would be teaching some English lessons the main hat (err leggings?) I was to wear was that of Yoga Teacher. Obviously, I knew what I was signing up for, but when it came down to it, the day before my first class, I was petrified. Aside from the three people I taught at my training last April, a few friends and random travelers in hostel common rooms, I hadn't actually taught a class yet. Lucky for me though this women's spa in a chilled-out town in Cambodia is the perfect place for a teacher to dip her toes in the water.
My first class consisted of 10 Khmer girls, most of whom have little to no interest in yoga, it was challenging but also fun, in a weird sort of way. In all honesty, I don't completely remember my first real class, seeing as it's taken me nearly 6 weeks to write about it, but I can tell you it was a success. I managed to fill the 90 minutes with breathing, vinyasas, downward dogs, planks and even some fun ab work. No one stormed out of class, injured themselves or demanded their money back, in fact, a few students returned later in the week! As a little extra challenge for myself I was still dealing with the post effects of the injuries I had incurred the week before (talk about good timing, hey?). The gash in my leg was thankfully only a small problem, but the resounding dizziness began to drive me insane. Reverse warrior, wild thing and basically any position lying on my back sent my head spinning, not an ideal state for your yoga teacher to be in.
I've been practicing on my own while traveling, so I found no problem filling an hour or two with movement, but having a room full of people follow along is a little bit different. Vocalizing every move you make "inhale reach up, exhale forward fold, inhale flat back..." tends to become a little repetitive and almost seem unnecessary until you realize your students need it, in fact that's why they came to class. As my students left the class sweating with smiles on their faces and departing "Thank you's" I realized I was doing it, I was teaching yoga! I admit there were mornings I woke up and hoped no students would show up for class, but by the end of it I was always so happy they had. Not only did it encourage me to complete my own daily practice, but the appreciation the students showed at the end of class left me glowing (nothing like a little ego boost to start your day).
It's interesting how quickly I came to relate to so many of the stories or anecdotes I had read in blog posts, facebook statuses or instagram captions, from some of my favorite yoga teachers. I distinctly remember a day when I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed and quickly realized this was not something I could project onto my students. It was great to finally be on the other side of the yoga mat, sharing what I love with people from around the world. I definitely made the right choice of where to start my teaching journey, there couldn't be a more welcoming way to begin than having laid back, seasoned travelers as your first students. Knowing that most of the students are in transit and just wanting to 'drop - in' there was much less stress on the 'marketing or promotions' side of class, allowing me to focus purely on the experience.
I'm still not sure if teaching will ever become my thing but I will always greatly appreciate the two months I've spent here, learning more about myself and sharing the things I know with others. I've received loads of positive feedback from a variety of students: other trained teachers, complete beginners, muscular guys, and lean gals; I can only hope that each and every one of them mean what they said.
Only recently has this country shown up on the SE Asia tourist route. With a dark, harrowing past it's amazing to see the smiles spread across the locals faces. I've met travelers with mixed impressions, but if you're lucky enough to connect with a few locals I'm confident you'll fall in love.