AKS: Tell me what classes you currently teach.
IL: I currently teach two classes a week. On Tuesdays I teach restorative yoga. It’s at a yoga studio within a martial arts studio (in Covina). The yoga studio is called Golden Monkey Yoga. And I teach at Unfold (in Brea) on Thursdays—the candlelight flow class—so it’s a gentle blend of Hatha and Vinyasa. Sometimes I’ll incorporate Yin depending on how everyone’s feeling that day.
AKS: Have you found that gentle classes are the style you like to teach the most?
IL: Yes, because I get a lot of beginners. Towards the end of teacher training I kind of figured out that I wanted to teach people who were still new to yoga or are a little scared to try it and they attend classes like that because they’re less intimidating. I don’t mind teaching a Vinyasa type class but I seem to really like teaching gentler, slower paced classes
AKS: How long has it been now since you graduated from teacher training?
IL: I started the program in late 2013 and I think we ended January 2014 and then I got my certification around March 2014. Almost two years. It’s kind of crazy; I feel like it just happened.
AKS: Having the experience of teaching for almost two years, what has changed the most for you as far as your evolution as a teacher? How do you see that you’ve improved?
IL: I was so nervous. It’s hard to get a gig after you graduate from the program, but I didn’t want to lose the momentum of teaching with my mentor. I started off doing free yoga at the park, just to make sure I didn’t lose everything. And I was really nervous about coming up with a sequence, wondering if it was challenging enough. I think I was hung up on “How cool is my sequence?” When you teach enough, you have a few set sequences or flows that you like to use, but I’ve found that it really depends on who comes to your class. This has happened so many times where I’m like “Oh I’m going to do this…” Like I just saw this move and it’s really cool. It felt really awesome. And then you realize that you have people who’ve come to your class who have no idea what yoga is or what down dog is and you’re like “Well, I guess I can’t use that this time.” You never really can plan for it. I think that’s one thing I’ve learned in the short amount of time I’ve been teaching.
And I’ve also learned about myself. You get so hungry as a new teacher that you want to take every gig, but then you’ll learn that not every gig is right for you. I feel like everything needs to click, and sometimes it just doesn’t. And you need to see what serves you as a teacher and if it doesn’t serve you then you can’t serve your class. I’ve learned a lot about that and what I want and what I don’t want.
AKS: Tell me a little bit about your plans for the future.
IL: I would eventually like to do the 300 hour teacher training, but I’m also really interested in the nutritional aspects. When we did the 200 hour training, I really enjoyed the Ayurveda portion of it and I feel like that’s something I’d like to incorporate in the future, to do some sort of counseling and maybe work with people one on one. Because sometimes people are a little intimidated to go to a class and they need a lot of help.
I also realized in the 200 hour teacher training that I really wish I took anatomy classes in college. As I’m teaching, I’ll blank out sometimes and think “What is that muscle called again?” And I’m like “Just stretch this part of your body.” So I definitely want to get more educated in anatomy and Ayurveda, more of the internal part of yoga. I currently work full time and I’m doing yoga because it’s my passion but eventually I would like for it to become my only thing.
I’ve also thought about being a traveling yogi and hosting events, so I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do, but I know what I want to study. When I tell people I’m a yoga teacher the first thing they ask me is “Are you going to open up a studio?” But there’s so much more that you can do with it. I’m in it for the ride, which is so unlike me because I’m very much a planner and I need to know what I’m doing. But in studying yoga, you learn that you can’t plan for everything and things change all the time, so it’s been really great for me. I needed it.
AKS: Do you have any favorite yoga books or resources that you’ve learned a lot from?
IL: I’ve been reading a lot of Gabrielle Bernstein’s books. I think she’s super inspirational and I feel like she can relate on a modern level. I’ve also been reading the Radiance Sutras (by Lorin Roche) and I think it’s beautiful. And it’s one of those where you don’t have to sit through it and read the whole thing but sometimes you can just pick it up and pick a verse at random. I’ve been reading that and I have Eckhart Tolle on my list of things to read. I just get excited. I have a short attention span so I’ll start reading something and I don’t finish it right away. I think that’s the vata part of me.
Lately it’s been Gabrielle Bernstein and it’s not just books, but also subscribing to YouTube videos. What’s nice about these kinds of figures is that they’ll post weekly videos and it’s nice to watch it when you’re feeling a little stressed or a little yucky. When you watch it, you feel recharged again.
I feel like it’s (Facebook & social media) such a good resource that people are starting to use to connect to students. It’s really interesting to see how creative people are getting.
AKS: Do you have any piece of advice for people who are just graduating teacher training and getting started with teaching?
IL: Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s so easy to be hard on yourself. No pun intended but be flexible. You never know what works for you. I never thought I would teach yoga at a martial arts studio but I really enjoy it. Don’t be so hard on yourself if maybe your audition didn’t go the way you wanted it to. Maybe it’s just not a good fit. And just take it one day at a time. And make your own opportunities.
We’re excited to see what opportunities Isabelle will be making next!