I had a very interesting experience observing Georgette's BNew class for beginners. It was the first class she had taught in the series of beginner classes, which focused on breathing and alignment. I emailed Shelby at BFree and asked if there was any sort of protocol for observing classes, and she said that she was pretty sure any of the instructors would be fine with me observing, and to just show up a few minutes early to ask the instructor when I got there. So, that's exactly what I did.
I had taken one of Georgette's BFlow classes already and really enjoyed it, so I thought a beginner's class would be the perfect place to start my observations. I introduced myself and could tell she was hesitant to let me observe, as she had never had anyone observe any of her classes before. However, she obliged and I was grateful and set up in the corner of the room opposite as to where the majority of the students had laid out their mats. She introduced me to the small class, explained the situation and then continued on as planned. Having taken one of her classes before, I didn't really think that she acted much different having an observer in the class, but I could tell after a few minutes, once she realized that I was there to watch and learn and not judge and critique, that she relaxed and was enjoying teaching her class.
A couple of key things I noticed with her in particular was that she smiles a lot and uses a lot of body language to communicate with her students. I think that this is probably pretty important when building a rapport with a new class, or with anyone new in the class, because you want them to feel comfortable and you want them to find you approachable.
About 1/3 of the way through class is when things starting getting interesting. As with any teacher instructing beginners or any new students, Georgette asked the class if there were any injuries or any other ailments she should know about before beginning. No one stated anything out of the ordinary, but after talking with her at the end of the class, she said that she could tell with one particular student that there was something not quite right going on with this woman's body. Georgette tried to give some simple direction and special attention to this student, as well as gentle adjustments. She even got up in front of the class numerous times to demonstrate what she was talking about.
It's been a little while since I've been in a beginner class, but it her simple flow series was not unlike how I remember my first classes as a new student. I thought she did an excellent job. However, this particular student who was having so much difficulty left about 1/3 of the way through the class. It was a strange feeling because I could tell that Georgette was uncomfortable, as she confirmed with me later, and felt bad because there was really nothing else she could do. In the simplest movements, this woman was having such an incredibly difficult time that she was slowing down the flow of the rest of the class. And although it was disappointing for Georgette, I'm sure, that this woman left, the mood in the class changed almost instantly as the rest of the students and the instructor felt as though it was a burden lifted off of the rest of flow class.
After class, the friend/co-worker of the woman who left explained to Georgette that this woman had suffered a stroke at some point in her life, and had almost no feeling and limited mobility and an entire side of her body. She explained that she was self conscious about it, and that was the reason that she hadn't told Georgette in front of the class. They had a short discussion about why this was unsafe and unfortunate for the woman who had left, and it was only after she and the rest of the students left that I finally got to talk to Georgette about my experience observing her class.
She told me that she felt really comfortable teaching with me observing, that she didn't feel judged or criticized, which I was happy to hear. We talked about her sequencing and the class I took, etc. and she invited me to come and observe or assist any time with her, which I will be happy to do! She also explained that in a situation like the one with the woman who left the class, it is best to report back to the owner of the studio and have her do any emailing or further contacting about concerns that either one of them may have, which I appreciated.
Then she asked me what size pants I wore, which I thought was kind of a funny question, and explained the lululemon pants she was wearing didn't really fit her quite right and she had tried them out a few times, but if I didn't mind washing them, I was welcome to have them! The funny thing about this is that I have been coveting lululemon yoga gear since I first heard about them and went into the store to get my mat. However, everything there is just way too out of my price range at this point and I have been left admiring from afar. And then, there was a pair of free pants just being offered right up to me! It was so exciting and one of those affirming moments when you feel like you're making the right choices by being in the places you're being at the times that you are there. It was one of the moments I've had in the last couple of weeks that make me feel so grateful to be part of the yoga community, and especially this one in particular.
First observation - complete!