The many names used to describe “consistent, regular work/actions/behaviours done over a long period of time.
As yoga teachers, we understand the benefits of a regular asana practice, which gives access to Power, Vitality and Freedom inside and out.
Routines are a way to get organised, which also tend to be on the monotonous and boring side, like getting up early in the morning, having breakfast, brushing teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed and going to work.
Habits are more of creating a means to get to a goal…..like meditating for 21 days to start a meditation practice.
Rituals are more meaningful. Often with religious connotations, it also suggest something ceremonial and spiritual with the intention, conscious or unconscious, to connect with a higher power and with others.
But rituals can also be non-religious - and it’s a powerful way to connect to our inner self and to get grounded in the Now.
Rituals are also a great way to reduce overwhelm and anxiety. There’s a study done which shows that rituals help us perform better by controlling our anxiety and minimise the brain’s sensitivity to failure.
I’ve been teaching for over 10 years (dance, pilates, yoga) and I still get nervous and anxious before every class.
My first ever teaching gig was teaching Exotic Dance to a bunch of women. I was 27 years old, young and impressionable, and I had to portray a sense of confidence and sexiness, which at that age, was easier to embody which you imbibe in spirits (the liquid kind) under the disco lights.
Obviously, drinking was out of the question at 9 in the morning - so St John’s Wort** (which I bought from GNC) was my saviour. This alternate medicine is commonly used for “the blues” or depression and related symptoms such as anxiety or insomnia. If you ask me now, if I’ll take it - I’d say no, because I found a less-invasive way to calm my nerves. And at that point in time in my life, it worked for me.
**Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. This information is based on my personal experience and research. The information given may not fit your specific health circumstances. If in doubt, please seek professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider.
My Pre-Teaching Ritual is a way for me to take care of myself so I can be in a better state of mind to lead and take care of my students.
It’s an anchor for my current state of my mind.
It’s personal and it’s done subtly, where my students won’t even know it’s happening. Or maybe you might catch me doing it. and so what.
The 1 thing I always do, no matter what, before I teach is:
// Rub my favourite essential oil in between my palms, cup my palms over my face and take a couple of deep breaths into my palms.
And if I’m feeling sad or the energy of the class is low:
//I’ll play my favourite dance tunes in the studio and invite the students to be playful.
The awesome thing about discovering your own personal ritual is that you get to use them whenever you need a pick me up or whenever you need “something” to hold on to; wherever.
Create a ritual before you teach - whether taking 3 deep breathes or twitching, and just relax, letting all the tension flow from you.
By creating a ritual, you create a more purposeful and meaningful direction/energy/tone to your class and for yourself.
Here’s a list of rituals you can choose from to create your own personal pre-teaching ritual. Try them and see what works.
Close your eyes
Set an intention
Essential oils (Apply topically or diffuse)
Feeling feet on the ground
Put on your favourite tunes and invite your students to be playful
Lighting a candle
Jumping on the spot
Moving your arms/body around like you just don’t care
Go upside down (forward fold, headstand, handstand)
Some of the suggestions are less subtle. You don’t have to explain your students what you’re doing. Just do what you need to do.
Make it simple.
Make it a ritual.
And make it YOU!