Posted on

You Teach Me, I Teach You

I can be very superstitious sometimes, which is why I hardly told anyone about teaching my first yoga class. You could certainly argue that by sharing your hopes and goals publicly, you get all the good juju vibes from your friends and acquaintances. If you’re me, it fills you with thoughts of But what if I share and then it doesn’t go well and then what do I say and oh man, this is going to be so terrifying!

So, with very little pomp, I invited my mom and my yoga teacher, Kerri McClain, to my very first class as part of my teacher training at Om Factory in NYC. And, much to my surprise, other people came, too — in total, there were about eight folks who joined me, one of whom had never done yoga before. Exciting!

So happy my wonderful teacher and friend joined me for my first class tonight.

A post shared by Erica (@ericavarlese) on


My teacher inspiration and me. 

It went as smoothly as I could have hoped. Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement, because there is. So much room. But things felt like they were moving at just the right pace, and I started to understand the dance between teacher and student in these group settings. Breathing along with everyone, sensing when it’s time to move on, when to pause, when to speak and demonstrate.

Last night, Kirsten said, “Being a yoga teacher is a privilege.” Standing in front of a group of students who come to the (yoga) mat for all different reasons is a powerful thing. You speak, they respond with their bodies, drifting in and out of the poses you describe. Everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to the sequence, so you see all of these unique expressions of the choreography you planned out in your mind. In that process, group dynamics change, students’ connection to their breath and their bodies change, your relationship to the poses and the people in front of you changes.

I geared this particular class toward Natarajasana, dancer’s pose, which is beautifully picturesque, in addition to being a great practice for opening the chest and honing your focus. As my students slowly and gracefully moved into this pose, I was so proud, and so shocked, that we got to this point together.

And at the very end, my first-time student said she loved it and found it very relaxing. Helping others feel good and peaceful in their bodies is the only thing I can ask for in teaching, so what a gift from her to me. I’ll always be nervous, yes, but I’m excited to do more. Practice brings improvement.

7 thoughts on “You Teach Me, I Teach You

  1. You made me want to practice yoga again Erica. Your writing here is graceful and elegant, and your love for yoga brings a peace to it. Congratulations on your first class 🙂

    1. Thanks Andrea! If you start again, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

      1. I think my body wishes I would. My first step would be to clean my gnarly mat :-/ do you have any protips on that?

  2. Congratulations, Erica! I once had the privilege of being a student in a friend’s first yoga class, and it was exciting to see her grow into the teacher role. Just hearing your description makes me want to take class with you. Grand meetup, maybe? 😉

    I just restarted my yoga practice semi-seriously, and it has been so good for me. I mostly practice at home these days, so I miss the teacher interactions, but I started a little blog to encourage myself to reflect on how it’s going (and, let’s face it, to encourage me to keep at it). A regular practice can be so powerful.

    1. That’s awesome, Rachel! And I’ve actually been toying with proposing teaching a yoga session at the GM — now I have added inspiration 🙂

      1. I was going to suggest a GMU yoga class – I would love that!

  3. […] completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training and teach two classes a week with some wonderful students that I enjoy getting to know better and […]

Leave a Reply