After Teacher Training: Keeping Heart-Filled Intentions Through Empty Classes

Nicole Markardt
After Teacher Training: Keeping Heart-Filled Intentions Through Empty Classes

For almost 17 years, I’ve been an elementary school teacher. The first few years of teaching in the New York City public school system, with class sizes of up to thirty-one students or more, is not for the faint of heart. I remember truly overwhelming moments where I questioned my decision and thought about changing course.

I experienced a level of fatigue that my 20-something-year-old body wasn’t accustomed to, as well as unbelievable stress, and feeling lost and unsuccessful.

As I grew more knowledgeable about classroom management, learned to really capture children in my teaching coupled with certain students who really pulled me into their journey, I found myself in it for the long haul. I was processing my own childhood as my journey began and felt as if I was drawn to being part of children’s lives in a positive way.

A Call to Teach

As years went on, I began to heal at deeper levels, peeling back layers of myself. I became more drawn to guiding other adults on their healing journey. Reiki healing, along with my yoga practice, helped me make changes that I had resisted for so long — both physically and spiritually. My inner teacher called out to me and I began my journey through yoga teacher training.

Teacher training was a beautiful time in my life. I felt connected to my body at a whole new level. My thirst for knowledge was at its peak as I absorbed Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and other sacred yogic texts. Working full time and spending my weekends in training didn’t feel like work as it further ignited my passion for both teaching and yoga.

Getting my certificate felt just as meaningful to me as when I received my Master’s Degree.

The Journey Begins

Finding a job as a yoga teacher is a lot harder than I ever imagined. Many studio owners like to hire people that they have trained through their own teacher trainings; their own trainees waiting in line to sub and get on the teaching schedule. The studio where I did my training had their steady instructors and weren’t in need.

Gyms and fitness studios are more open, but classes are often sparse as many yoga enthusiasts love the feel of an actual yoga studio. About six months after teacher training, I did find a job at a local fitness studio and my first class was completely full.

When No One Shows Up

Quite a few times, as I set my intentions and prepare for class in quiet meditation, I look up and notice the time. There are days when the door does not open and I remain alone in the space I’ve prepared as sacred.

It is difficult to quiet my negative self-chatter that maybe I’m not good enough to keep people coming back. The not good enoughs take over at times, but I’m learning to reclaim my higher voice and give her the floor. I allow these feelings to move through me without judgment.

You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are. ~Yogi Bhajan

Just as when I began teaching elementary school, this is the beginning of a lifelong journey with many turns. We assign meaning to our experiences. What if we change the meaning that we assign to things? As I practice self-study, I am noticing the ways in which I assign meaning to things which de-value me.

Empty classes do not have to mean we are not of value. It means this only if we decide it is so. Allowing myself to surrender to this journey, I peel back deeper layers of healing and realize this is all part of my process. It all serves a purpose in my own healing.

Remembering Why We Began

I am called to be of service in this life. I am a natural teacher and healer. I feel it in every fiber of my being. I was deeply drawn to spread yoga and lovingly guide bodies and hearts through this journey.

This calling is part of my life path. I trust in my heart and my intentions. We are given this precious life with no guidelines. We develop outlines of how we think it should unfold and it is in the unfolding where the path reveals itself.

Yoga practice has nourished my soul and it continues to call me to be of service. I trust it and I claim it.~Nicole Markardt

A few weeks ago, I taught a Sunday morning class with only two practitioners. After Savasana, we honored our practice by bowing our heads, hands to heart, and acknowledging the divine within ourselves and one another with "Namaste."

As I rolled up my mat, I was approached by a woman from class. I looked up and saw that she had tears in her eyes. She revealed to me that her father died a few days before and her words to me were, “You really helped me today.”

In that moment, I felt that my purpose was served. It does not matter if a class has thirty people or three, if we serve at a popular yoga studio or at a space in a gym or in our own homes — we are helping people heal, receive, and release.

A sacred space is where we create it. A sacred space is what happens in it, and the vibration that is held there. All things done with love and intention are enough.