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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bikram Yoga is Teaching Me How to be a Better Coach

Me before Bikram...
Two nights ago I attended my very first Bikram yoga class. For those of you unfamiliar with Bikram yoga, it involves a lot of stretching, a lot of strengthening, a lot of breathing, and an awful lot of heat (110 degrees F, give or take...). I've done different types of yoga in the past, but I'd avoided Bikram for quite a long time, nervous about the heat. I don't love excessive heat and the idea of exercising in that excessive heat turned me off to Bikram even more.

But I'd heard good things, and my friends really like it, and one day I was gifted 10 classes at a local Bikram studio, so I found myself braving the heat and sweat to attend my very 1st Bikram yoga class.

I arrived nervous, and as soon as I opened the studio door and that wall of heat and humidity hit me, I became even more nervous. The first couple of poses were really tough for me, and I found myself opting out and watching more frequently than participating during the first half hour of class.

But the instructor wouldn't let me opt out completely. Even though it annoyed me at times ("I am pushing myself as hard as I can..." I thought to myself, even though I really wasn't, "quit barking at me!"), he kept talking me through the uncomfortableness and the pain, giving me reasons each pose would improve my health and strategies for working through the heat. With his encouragement I did push myself a little harder. And in the end, I not only survived my first class, but I thrived, feeling energized for pushing myself, listening to my instructor, and working through the struggle to complete something that challenged me.

Reflecting on my experience, I thought about the clients that I work with as a math/tech coach. Many of them probably feel the same way about trying a new tech tool as I did about trying Bikram yoga-- nervous, hesitant, reluctant to try. I am passionate about digital technology and as a coach I can sometimes get a little over-excited, pushing too much on people that might not be ready. Remembering the way I felt before my first Bikram yoga class can help me remember how to take baby steps with teachers feeling the same way about trying something new in their classrooms for the first time.

Me after Bikram!
That being said, as a nervous newbie, there were so many points at which I was ready to quit during that first Bikram class. It would have been easier than persevering through something that was so difficult for me. Luckily, my instructor kept encouraging me and pushing me to keep going. As a coach it's my job to meet teachers where they're at, but also to push them just a little to keep going, keep trying, keep improving.

So what happened after that first, challenging experience with Bikram? I went back for more the very next day. And, not surprisingly, knowing more than I did on the first day, I did even better in the 2nd class than I'd done in the first! I didn't get everything right, but my instructor was paying attention, and knowing that I was still learning, she followed-up, checked-in, and supported me when I needed it-- the way a good coach does.

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