Earlier this month I taught my first yoga class abroad in Santos, Brazil. To be honest, I was nervous AF.
Yes, I have taught yoga at CorePower Yoga studio for over a year and even been a coach for a couple yoga teacher training programs, but even before my classes, more often than not, I would get pre-class jitters. Mostly the butterflies in my stomach would come from nervous excitement, although I often couldn’t help but have a lingering fear of messing up.
During one of the teacher trainings I was coaching, a fellow coach and yoga teacher mentioned that it’s okay to be nervous – it means that you care. That has stuck with me because of course I care about teaching a great class, one that my students enjoy.
While in Brazil, I was in contact with one of my former Brazilian roommates from Sydney, Australia and she generously offered to host Matt and I in her home. She read our blog and found out about my desire to teach yoga abroad. Unknown to me, her grandma had been a yoga teacher and she is also a yogi! She told me she would love to organize a donation based yoga class to help pay for our trip and that she would invite her friends. I was touched by her idea – I thought she was going to message a few friends and then I saw a full-fledged Facebook event for “Yoga na Praia” (Yoga at the beach) displaying one of my yoga photos from my blog with over 60 invites sent!
I’ve only formally taught yoga classes in a studio setting, where you have the gift of mirrors for students to see their practice – this wouldn’t be available outside. Teaching power yoga at CorePower is heavily reliant on the use of descriptive language to guide students into postures and through flows (it is not demonstration based with the exception of a few specific teacher demos in class). Since I don’t speak Portuguese, and English would be the second language of my students, I decided practicing in front of my students would be more helpful – especially without mirrors.
My nerves were high. I had not taught a class in the two months since I had been in South America and there were 18 Facebook “attendees” awaiting me at my 8am beach class. Since beginning our trip, my physical yoga practice has been limited to self-practice (less than I want to admit), one (amazing) yoga dome class, and the occasional yoga poses for the camera (like this one).
The night before class I had a nightmare I was two hours late to the class. This is something I was no stranger to since I first started my teaching career with Monday morning 7:15am classes that I needed to arrive to at 6:45am – and I’m not a morning person. Literally every week the night before my class I would have nightmares I was late to or completely miss the class. This is also on par for what happens to me before the first day of something new (school, job, etc.). I guess my caring too much gets in the way of a peaceful night’s rest! :p
Thankfully the nightmare did not come to fruition and we made it to the beach park on time (well a few minutes after 8am, which I’ve learned is considered on time in Brazil). The helicopter pad that was destined for the class was occupied by a newscaster and crew, so we found a platform nearby for the class.
One woman with her yoga mat and young daughter (too young to have interest in taking the class) showed up and my friend informed me we were also waiting for her sister. So I had three eager students up early on a Saturday morning to beat the sweltering summer heat of south Brazil. All three were new to power (vinyasa) yoga, so I taught a close variance to a CorePower Yoga C1 class, which is designed with beginners in mind.
Once the class was in full swing, I felt myself naturally falling back into the role of a teacher. I hadn’t needed to worry; the class was casual and chill with good vibes. I had the full liberty to tailor the class to my students based on their reactions to the class, which is always easier to do with a smaller group.
Since my first class in Brazil, I’ve taught two more small yoga classes in Paraguay (in Spanish!). Stay tuned for an upcoming blog highlighting my experience and translation tips for teaching yoga in Spanish.