I spent six weeks this summer at Yoga Sutra Shala, five of those weeks teaching yoga. I found this amazing retreat center through the work exchange website known as Workaway. I focused on developing my teaching skills and my personal yoga/meditation practice. I have been teaching yoga for over two years and never even expected to do so, nor teaching at a retreat center in a tranquil little village in Spain. Benissiva is a village about an hour and a half away from the city of Alicante, with about forty people residing. A gorgeous view of the rural valley and La Forada, friendly locals, and a beautiful display of the stars, Benissiva suited me well.
My experience would not have been so pleasurable without the kindness and support of the owner of Yoga Sutra Shala, Namit, and all the wonderful volunteers that became family during my stay. Namit was very supportive of my teaching from day one and encouraged me to be who I am and most importantly; teach what I know.
I loved how all the volunteers came together like siblings to one another. We conversed about our lives, the world, yoga, and what goodies we dreamed of eating/drinking once we left the valley. Every weekend after the guests had left and Namit returned home, I found that we were like children left home alone by our parents, being able to run amuck throughout the retreat, as long as we cleaned up after ourselves.
I was a bit nervous when I first arrived, not realizing that I was one of two main instructors for those attending the retreat. I was intimidated that my knowledge would not be enough for those that have journeyed so far for the retreat; however, after my first class, I instantly discovered my place here. One of my first yoga instructors from back home, a dear friend, reminded me that it is not necessary about how much knowledge I have or what I can share, but how I can relay it to people. I found that my place is to hold space for those that need an open ear and heart.
The most rewarding part about teaching is the feedback from my students. I learned to accept the gratitude and praise people shared more and more as each week passed by. I realized that it is rude to not accept this feedback and that the least I could say was, “You’re welcome”. I sometimes struggle with praise and people referring to me as a ‘guru’, but I found to simply ignore their gratitude is not the answer. My confidence grew each week as one group left and another came. I discovered that I am unique with my teaching, being informative and fun at the same time.
Many times I questioned my approach; however, I see how valuable it can be and to not shy away from what I know and do best. A great teacher is always a curious student as well and when that spark of curiosity dwindles, so does the passion of teaching and learning. We all have something valuable to teach one another. It takes months and more often years to master a certain subject, talent, and/or practice. Do not doubt your ability to share your knowledge with the world because there are always people/friends/students seeking this and you may be that teacher they need.