One of my favorite teachers from Yoga Tree’s Teacher Training in San Francisco, Lauren Slater, invited me to assist her packed Saturday class at the Stanyan studio in Cole Valley.
What struck me almost immediately was the beauty of watching the mass of people move. Lauren’s style is very fluid from her background as a dancer, and so watching a sea of people flow between the poses was incredibly beautiful – almost like a choreographed dance.
As a new teacher, I was completely in awe watching Lauren navigate the classroom. She led a complex class fluidly, walked around the room giving adjustments, and was able to read the room. When the energy of the class got really focused, she lightened the mood and made people laugh, reminding them that this is just a step in the journey and a place to gather information.
Having taught myself, I know how much skill it takes to juggle the different dynamics of teaching a well-taught class: having a good sequence, leading with clear language and instruction, giving hands-on assists, and paying attention to how her class was affecting her students. So much was going on at the same time beneath the surface. She was like a swan who seems to be gliding above the water, but below I know how much work was going on to propel her forward.
What moved me the most assisting Lauren’s class was the student’s trust in allowing me to watch them. I’ve assisted other classes before, but none in such close quarters as this one. When I’m in class I love having an assistant come and give me adjustments. But being on the other side, it’s almost overpowering to see so many people in such an intimate way and knowing that they are completely trusting you.
They are allowing themselves to be very vulnerable, showing and moving their bodies in ways that tell their personal story without words. As an assistant or a teacher, feeling that wave of intimacy is striking, humbling, and moving.