On paper I was a lock. Former pro athlete, full time yoga teacher. How hard could it be?
“Hey guys, I’m Annette. I used to play soccer and now I teach yoga. I’m just going to take you through an hour of stretching and breathing and then you’ll be on your way. Let’s start in Child’s pose.”
I then watched these long, athletic, collegiate female bodies struggle onto the floor. Ankles wrapped in tape, and discomfort readily on display. A hand went up. “I tore my ACL twice and had reconstructive surgery on the other knee.” Um ok. “And my ankle won’t bend like that,” another said. “OK. Ok. Change of plans. Everyone just lay down,” I said. And on it went.
Every scripted posture and flow went up in smoke. The class was awful because I made the one fatal mistake that took me years to truly figure out. Teaching athletes is NOT the same as teaching in a studio. I repeat. These are NOT the same thing. But I walked in ready to teach the sequence I had taught just days prior, expecting it to work.
To be honest, I thought about quitting right then and there. I was embarrassed and the girls looked like they hated every moment. It was torture. I literally saw each minute of the hour pass in slow motion. But I didn’t quit. Because let’s be honest, I never quit. It’s my superpower. I LOVE adversity. I LOVE proving people wrong.
So I went back.
The next class still sucked, but I made some tweaks (maybe we won’t do chatarungas for a while; what happens if they step back instead of stepping forwards?). I started to change the transitions and study their body language. Before you step in front of the next team, I implore you to watch and hear about my mistakes. Learn how I was able to redefine a practice in a way that was useful for the athlete body without butchering its legacy. Because at the end of the day, working with athletes is a privilege and a specialty all its own.
What was something that hit home for you (either as an athlete or a teacher)? I’d love to hear your stories. Thanks for listening.
Until next time,