The importance of being a guest teacher
As my students know, I recently took some time away from the studio to visit Peru – an amazing experience and one I’ll tell you more about in the coming months in this blog – where I was fortunate to have the opportunity to teach some guest classes at Bikram Yoga Peru. Being a guest teacher is completely different to my day-to-day responsibility of being a studio owner and yoga instructor in Ibiza and it was something I really enjoyed.
The Bikram Yoga Peru studio is in Lima and it’s a lovely contemporary studio, not unlike Hot Yoga Ibiza however it’s created with the materials of the area: red brick and cement. The owner, Angie Ferrero, has been a friend of mine for a very long time – we did our Bikram Yoga training together in 2007 – and so when I knew I was going to be passing through the area on my way to Machu Picchu, I immediately contacted her to catch up. I wanted to see her studio, find out how her business was going and of course, participate in one of her classes.
It turned out Angie needed some help teaching classes in the studio that week and so I was more than happy to help! Being a yoga teacher is something that always goes with you wherever you travel, however I hadn’t taught outside of my own studio (aside from private one-to-one classes) for about eight years – it was about time I took myself out of my comfort zone. As a teacher, it’s important to always keep learning and teaching in a different space always provides you with some lessons.
I took a class first, to familiarise myself with the space and wow, it was hot! Angie told me I could do anything I wanted with my classes (“You won’t come back so do whatever you want!” were her exact words) and to be honest, before I taught the first class, I was so nervous! It was like the very first class I ever taught, all over again. But once I started teaching, I got into the dynamics of it and everything was OK. There was a great energy in the room. I was a little annoyed (at myself) that I couldn’t remember every student’s name because here in Ibiza, I know all of my students but there, it was impossible to remember 30 names in one session.
After the sessions, some of the students told me they had been the most difficult classes they’d ever taken in their lives (in a good way) and that they enjoyed my teaching style. They thanked me a lot, and said they liked hearing about the philosophies of yoga during Savasana and left the studio eager to learn more. This made me happy. I want my students – wherever they are in the world – to learn something in every class. It’s never just about the physical body. Of course, you’ll get benefits if you breathe and move your body in the asanas, but you’ll also get the benefits of the mind when you understand WHY you’re doing these things.
Angie was in the room practicing alongside her students and afterwards she told me I was welcome to come back and teach any time – it seemed ‘doing whatever I wanted’ had been a good thing! I would love to go back to Peru and teach more guest classes. In fact, I’d love to teach guest classes in many places around the world. The thing about being a guest teacher is that it really puts you in the present moment. It makes you conscious of your style, of your manner, of your methods and of your confidence as a teacher. It’s also great to see the way another studio runs, the way other students practice, and the way other teachers teach. It opens your mind to new ways of thinking, of doing and of practicing while exposing you to different cultures. It’s an experience I’m grateful for and one I’ll never forget. Thank you Bikram Yoga Peru!