Clad in neon cross trainers, gripping a medicine ball like a weapon, she stared me down as I entered the studio and dimmed the lights. "Who are you? And where's our teacher?"
"I’m the sub," I offered. And to toss another fistful of salt into the breaking-her-routine wound, I gently explained I’d be teaching a different class format, Vinyasa yoga, instead of "Core Fusion." "No, no. I just can’t do the Zen thing at this hour," she said with a clenched jaw.
I get it. Stepping in, covering a yoga class, subbing. Whatever you want to call it, it can be a real killjoy for someone who’s meticulously rearranged an important work project, childcare, walking the dog or picking up another gallon of almond milk at the market to make it to their favorite weekly class.
When the sub arrives, hearts sink en masse. Like a sloppy Chaturanga thud-back, a sub stepping into a room of disappointed yogis is no picnic. For the student or the teacher.
But when the email, text, hysterical "help!" voice message arrives, unless I’ve got a solid reason to say no, I’m going to step in and sub. I’ve been doing it from the very beginning of my teaching, and here’s why:
1. I Get the Flu, Too
Subbing for a sick yoga teacher sends out good karma, and I’m all about helping a sidelined yogi temporarily trade in the hardwood floor for a soft sofa and pot of lemon tea until she can get back on her feet again.
And as students, attending a sub’s class sends your regular teacher the message that you’re committed to keeping up with your practice, even in her absence.
2. It Keeps my Teaching Fresh
As much as I adore working with a consistent group of dedicated students week after week, I love the thrill (and at times, terror) of relying on my skill and experience to quickly adapt and alter whatever plans I came in with to accommodate the original teacher’s students.
When a handful of high school football players showed up with achy joints and exhausted eyes to a class I was subbing, I took a risk and put them in Child’s Pose for ten minutes. Not part of the plan, but absolutely what they needed.
3. Opportunity Knocks!
Several studio doors have opened for me by subbing for other teachers, and can for you too — especially if you’re new. No one likes to use the word competition in the same sentence as yoga, but the reality is that if you’re a newly minted teacher, you’re in very good company.
With a growing number of 200-hour graduates and only so many teaching slots, it can be tough to land a class. But sub enough classes and students will start asking for you. Studio owners will notice you’re willingness to step in last minute and teach. And before you know it, BOOM — you’ve landed a class on the schedule!
So next time you see a sub on the schedule, go through the door and roll out your mat. You, your regular teacher, and your grateful sub, will be so glad you did.