On Teaching Yoga

Written on March 18, 2010

Ever since I was a child, I always knew I’d be a teacher. While my friends dreamed of being doctors or movie stars or professional athletes, I wanted to be a teacher. Maybe it was because my parents only went to the 8th grade (and then had to work) and drummed into our heads, the importance of an education. Or maybe it was because I loved my childhood schoolteachers–well, most of them. Whereas Sister Maurice, Sister Anastasia, and Sister Calixta were forces to be reckoned with, Sister Sarah, Sister Justin, and some of the lay teachers were fantastic, gentle, caring souls who made learning a fun, self-empowering experience. At some point, I fell in love with French: the flow and seductive song of the language, the literature, the history and architecture. Then I thought I’d both teach French and be an interpreter/translator. Teaching won out and I went on to teach English to French and Wolof speakers in Senegal, West Africa and then on to teaching ESL in Japan and eventually to teaching English at Green River Community College (GRCC) in Auburn, Washington. The road kept winding its way, leading me to the path of yoga practice and to teaching yoga.

See, I was so stressed teaching at GRCC and my friend Patti told me about a class that Margaret McAndrew was teaching through the Experimental College. I joined the class and that was that. Day one of class, I KNEW. My dharma revealed itself. I was going to teach yoga. Of course, I had five years of arduous training, practice and study ahead of me, but my mind was set. The powerful practice of yoga would BE my life. I originally went to the yoga class to relax, release tension in my shoulders and back, but got that and so much more out of the yoga practice.

The first few times in class, I cried in shavasana. I couldn’t stop the tears. I was kind of embarrassed and totally relieved that the lights were off! It was as if yoga allowed the spinning wheels to slow down and gradually come to a full stop. Yes, the hamster’s spinning wheel stopped and I felt the solid ground beneath me for the first time in a long time. The feeling for me was overwhelming.

In the ensuing weeks, I felt better than ever. I was unleashing so much energy as I found myself dealing with and letting go of excess baggage I’d been carrying around for far too long. My breath become fuller and my back became stronger and more flexible. I felt more confident in myself and I found myself wanting to be a better person, to improve on qualities such as practicing patience and forgiveness, and balancing out the various aspects of life such as work, socializing and play time, exercising, eating well, spending quality time with Rick, spending time in nature, gardening, learning, reading, sleeping. I know that maintaining balance is a constant effort; it’s the dance of life. Yoga helps me to navigate the dance gracefully.

When I teach, I feel each person in the class is a precious jewel. My greatest joy as teacher/instructor is to CONNECT to individuals, to a community of like-minded people who are intrinsically good and want to be the best they can be. We are all tapping into our full human potential, which is a huge concept to grasp. Another satisfying aspect of teaching for me is that on a daily basis, I see positive transformation in progress in myself and in every person in the group I am teaching. It is incredibly satisfying to witness. When I teach, I want each person practicing yoga to leave the session feeling special, unique, good about themselves and about their place in the world.

I will never forget how I stepped into a yoga class for stress relief and walked out a person with a larger vision of life. And I know, it is a similar experience for many people.

In my own small way, I hope to guide people towards the greater expansive experience that yoga offers. When we as yogis see, feel, experience this greater dimension of life, I believe we can’t help but to want to be better human beings and do our part to make this earth a more beautiful home for all living beings.   http://www.frangallo.com

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One Response to “On Teaching Yoga”

  1. Linda Says:

    Fran…..I believe you did find the perfect way of life for your soul. And think of all the people your love of yoga has been passed on to. After almost 10 years of doing yoga with you, I have never found anyone who teaches with the same passion and compassion that you do. You’re the best! Linda

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