5 Reasons Why A Substitute Teacher Will Improve Your Yoga

Shannon Brady
5 Reasons Why A Substitute Teacher Will Improve Your Yoga

The Sub. Temp. Stepdad. Quick – what’s the first image that comes to mind? Probably not a revered guru with legions of followers. More like sad fillers in. Folks who couldn’t land the gig the first time around, and are often treated like bottom feeder hunkering well below the sharks and yachts. I know. I’ve been there. As a sub, a temp, and daughter of a magnificent, loving, stepdad who prohibited us kiddos from ever using the term. Who could blame him? Read any icky abduction story in the headlines and there’s always some step-dude in the mix.

But as sweet yogis, we know better than to judge, right? Yoga teaches us that life is an ongoing journey, with some interesting transitions along our paths that just might land us in one or more of these roles. It has for me. I’ve kept kale and quinoa (and a few Pop-Tarts) on the table through temp gigs that kept me afloat between longer term employment stretches teaching yoga (which I’m happily enjoying fulltime now) and managing membership/marketing drives for a private club. Sadly, most of my temp gigs were far from blissful, and enduring the wrath of not-so-yogic brokers at one temp job launching verbal bullets my way with each misdirected call sent from the reception station was all too commonplace. My suffering was only compounded by the awkward headset conspiring to infect my left ear.

As the ink was still drying on my 200-hour yoga teacher training certificate, I grabbed whatever teaching opportunity I could find that allowed me to instruct someone other than the willing ladybug lurking in the corner of my home studio. In the beginning, my teaching opportunities came in the form of, you guessed it, subbing for other teachers. Teachers with a following of loyal yogis not so keen on Miss Newbie hijacking their power hour.

But here’s the thing. Subbing for other teachers has proven immensely valuable, and convinced me just how powerful subbing for someone else, and taking class from a substitute teacher can be. Here are 5 reasons why you should try it too:

1. Get Outta That God-Awful Routine

Routines are fine. But when your flow starts to feel like plug and play, and your body has hit a stubborn plateau with no ladder in sight, try a sub. They’ll likely introduce a new move or two that keeps your body and mind off-balance enough to force you into the awesome present moment. Be your own pilot and switch from auto to manual already.

2. Savor That Warm And Fuzzy Feeling

You know what I’m talking about. That tingly feeling that only comes from giving to someone else – in this case – giving your precious time and attention to the sub who’s just tryin’ to put kale, quinoa and Pop-Tarts on her table too.

3. Dive Head First Into Fear

Sub for a rock star. I guarantee after you get through it – teaching in spite of a room full of audible sighs, stink eyes, and who the hell is this?? whispers – you’ll come out alive, and proud of the fact that now you can handle anything. Maybe even a headstand on a keg celebrating the fact you survived, and are one step closer to being your own rock star teacher. A teacher whose only students are sweet yogis who love taking the occasional class from a sub.

"The first time I got up into handstand was with a sub. She didn't know it was something I hadn't done before, she expected me to do it, and I did. Her ignorance of my fear helped push me past it. This was years ago and the lesson still resonates with me." Facebook comment by Nickie Alexander

4. Keep The Studio’s Doors Open

Think studios run themselves? Uh uh. Most owners work their ass-anas off trying to satisfy all their yogis with a full array of classes taught by amazing teachers. Amazing teachers who are also human. Who occasionally get sick, caught in bad traffic, or stuck in tortoise pose (kidding, sort of). So if the owner and eager sub are cool enough to keep a class on the schedule so you can get your flow on, then by all means show up and help support the studio’s bottom line.

5. Learn About Yourself

See what emotions arise as you move to a brand new tune. What comes up with an unfamiliar sequence from an unfamiliar teacher? Frustration or Lightbulbs? What thoughts creep in when the pace is faster or slower than your regular teacher offers? Anger or joy? Ask away. That’s what yoga is all about – journeying inward and researching our emotions so we can learn to consider carefully before we react.

So next time you see a new name in parenthesis next to your beloved teacher’s regular time slot, sign in anyway. You’ll be glad you did.

Namaste and see you in class :)