The past week I had the pleasure of participating in a community event called, “An Accessible You”, where I led a 30-minute accessible yoga class. The event centered around an accessible day of fun, food, and prizes featuring various vendors acknowledging how they make their business more accessible or beneficial to those with disabilities.
The event was hosted by The Disability Channel, a production network that highlights the special abilities found within the community as well as Connect 4 Life, a charity that helps enhance the individual potential of those living with disabilities while promoting an inclusive environment to do so. I have previously worked with The Disability Channel to create ten-minute accessible yoga classes available on YouTube to be followed along by anyone, anywhere. I was flattered when they inquired if I would be interested in participating in the event by leading a 30-minute accessible yoga class and immediately began planning.
Not only was it an honor to have been a part of such an inspiring event, but it was also a great learning experience for me as an entrepreneur and business owner – that of which, I have zero experience in. I was fortunate enough to have a booth where I was able to discuss my goal of making yoga accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Public speaking is still something I struggle with and I’m often quite shy around those I do not know, making it difficult for me to lead classes in larger public settings. It was a nervous day for me to say the least and I eagerly waited for my time to come because, much like ripping off a band-aid, I was anxious to get it over with. While I should have been focusing on my breathing to help calm and center myself, I was instead focused on trying to better memorize my script. In staying true to the ever so cliché mantra of, “no regrets, just lessons learned”, I learned that going forward I am so much better off skipping the script.
In my personal experience, the problem with a script is that I become dependent on it. It becomes something I try to memorize instead of something that naturally flows, thus creating a domino effect. When nervous, I often forget what to say next and become overcome with panic, standing like a deer in the headlights unsure of what to say or do. I am a much better teacher when I teach from the heart, from whatever comes to me naturally in that moment of space and time.
While I initially started leading the class I was shaky, speaking faster than I should. However, after a few minutes, I began to get into my zone and focus on the message I wanted to deliver – that we were all here to participate in an accessible yoga class, and that our efforts in stepping out of our comfort zone should be celebrated. Now I wouldn’t say I did GREAT, but I without a doubt did better than I thought I would and for that I am proud.
I find one of the biggest blessings as a yoga teacher is the energy found within the community. I don’t necessarily expect anyone to tell me I flat-out sucked after teaching, but I am forever humbled by the positive feedback I do receive. I was greeted by a lovely couple who let me know that they felt much more relaxed after participating in my class, as well as a blind lady who let me know she enjoyed how my accessible class granted her the ability to participate from start to finish. There was a sense of pride and accomplishment within her voice that was incredibly uplifting for me. It may not mean much for people to take time and provide feedback, but it truly means the world to me. I always stress to my participants that while I may be a teacher because my 200-hour certificate says so, I am still a student who is always looking to learn and grow. As much as my students can learn from me, I know there is plenty that I can learn from them.
All in all, it was an incredible day. I got to learn more about myself and my business, meet new faces, ate delicious Venezuelan vegetarian food, interviewed by a local event blog on what it is that I do, and most importantly – lead my first ever accessible yoga class. While I am proud of myself for facing my fears of public speaking, I’m even more proud of the participants who were courageous in stepping out of their comfort zone. It furthers my belief that yoga is beneficial to everyone, and how important it is to make yoga accessible for all those who are interested.
Enjoy some photos below from the event, and thank you to amazingly supportive father A.K.A. personal photographer who not only took photos during the class but also took the time to take some personal shots of me after. It was much appreciated and I’m glad I have these photos to look back on.