As a yoga student I would prefer that we take hours to prepare to teach a yoga class—hell, a lifetime ideally.
But, as a teacher, I acknowledge that some days life just won’t allow it.
Dog pukes up a bird on the floor, car won’t start, traffic holds you up, your mom (or kid) calls with a fresh emergency as you arrive at the studio. Iyengar—God rest his soul—would tell us to stay home if we have diarrhea or if it’s that time of the month for ladies.
Here’s a few things you can do, however, to get your shit together when you just can’t get a sub to cover your class:
>> Two Minutes in Tadasana: Social scientists have demonstrated conclusively that standing in this universal posture of victory, arms upraised and triumphant, ushers in the production of testosterone and reduces the cortisol in the bloodstream, which makes you more confident, and less stressed-the-fuck-out, respectively.
>> Force a Smile: The same scientists have noticed a measurable increase in happiness when study participants forced a smile by holding a pencil in between their teeth for just 16 seconds. Though life may have just served you a shit sandwich, grin and bear it and feel better for it.
>> Three Minutes of “Hofin”: Wim “The Iceman” Hof has popularized the power of a very simple breath technique that hyper-oxygenates the bloodstream, making you more disease-resistant and present. Take a full breath in (think 110% of your lung capacity), and let a natural breath out (think 70% empty). Not hyperventilation, and not Kapalabhati—look him up on Joe Rogan #712 if necessary. The technique is simple (but not easy). Do 30 rounds and notice the effect immediately.
>> Recycle a Playlist: I keep several seasonally appropriate, energetically specific playlists pre-loaded in my iPhone for the days when trying to provide an illusion of freshness will actually detract from my pre-class presence. “Chill,” “Love,” “Meditative Mix,” “Rainy Day,” “Summer Reggae,” and “Unstoppable” are just a few that I keep locked and loaded for when I really need ’em.
>> Teach About “Presence”: We’re all always talking about presence from our own perspective, aren’t we? So go with it. Say “down dog” and then don’t say anything for a few minutes—that will presence everybody. Just don’t tip your hand by teaching about “the breath”…again.
You clever yogis have no doubt pieced together that you can even get ready in as few as three minutes if you do all of these simultaneously. Like blocks, these are tools not props. Use ’em when you need ’em, but be careful you don’t come to rely on ’em—there’s no substitute for good ol’ fashion discipline.
Don’t wait till the house is on fire, as the saying goes, to dig the well.