What to say at the beginning of the class?

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    I am a french canadian living in France.I started teaching yoga 2 years ago.
    The Yoga I have received and that I am practicing is the same one I find in your books and videos.
    A search for simplicity and stillness.

    As a teacher, there is one thing that I am most inconfortable with : What to say to students at the beginning of a class. How to welcome them, how to start.
    In everday life am a very lively person, I am open, curious and interested in people. I love to joke and laugh a lot. But when I am in front of a group, I consider this is not the place to convey these attitudes. I wish to “transmit” a calm and grounded attitude, as my teachers have done for me. I think I have managed to do this until now. But I very often have the feeling of beeing a little bit to cold, and remote. I smile at them, I say “bonjour”. I ask if there is anything particular to take into account (injuries, etc). And then we start ( I ask them to lie on their back, or sit ans close their eyes…)

    A feel very inconfortable in that situation. it is not in my personnality to give big speeches to students, since I consider the practice is more important than anything to get to understanding yoga. I dont want to “preech” anything…So, to sum up, it’s “Hello. Injuries? Lets start”.
    If you see what I am talking about, do you have any advice on the subject? I would REALLY apreciate some help on that…

    Oh, and I have to specify that the french are very ofter particularely cold in their attitude. Their enter the room, they sit on teir mat, and they look at me with a “I am tired, everything is going wrong in my life, like suks” look on their face. Very, very harsh I find!!

    Voilà. Maybe you’ll be able to bring some light to me on this subject! And even if you dont, I wish you a wonderful day.
    And pardon my english, since it is not my everyday language 😉

    Nantes, France

    Erich Schiffmann

    Hello Macha!
    Thank you for writing. I did not see your correspondence until just now, so please forgive me for making you wait.
    I understand your predicament. I would suggest that on your way to class, and as you are arranging the space and getting the lighting just right etc, in the back of your mind talk to God (quick words). Ask inwardly for guidance about what to do and what to say. If you have a favorite Awakened One or favorite teacher, ask them to speak through you as you teach. Then relax and breathe and just be normal 🙂 Say “Good morning, bonjour.” Thank them for coming to class. I would probably omit the injuries discussion, do that in private. And then begin. To me, it sounds like you are doing everything just right. You just have to be more at peace about your approach, clear within yourself that you know a good pathway into the practice, and then in a friendly way, say, “Let’s start.” It usually takes me a few minutes to get ready, people are coming in, and then I say, “Are you ready?” and we begin. I have been talking/preaching the first 10-20 minutes of class, but I used to just start with seated meditation. Lying on the back is excellent, too.
    I realize I am not saying anything dramatic. Mostly, I suggest, just be clear within yourself that how you are doing it is a good way, and don’t let yourself be swayed by their “life sucks” faces.
    If people are in your class, and they keep coming back, you are definitely doing something right.
    Your English is excellent!
    Love and pranams,


    Hello Erich,

    I just read your answer, having been on vacation away from home the past month.

    Thank you very, very, very, very much for your answer. And thank you for taking the time!
    What you are saying here really “talks” to me. 100% relevant.
    Coincidence or not, I was just re-reading in your book a passage on learning self-trust ( p52 of Moving into Stillness).

    Isn’t life wonderfull

    Macha B.

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