[Guest blogger Amanda Freal learns from her students.]
by Amanda Freal
I know it sounds cliché when an instructor says to a student “I am learning with you” and as a student I have always thought “No you’re not. You are the teacher, you obviously know all there is to know on this subject. What could you possibly learn from me?” As a hoop instructor who just had a baby two months ago, however, I can honestly say “Yes, I am!” I am learning with my students. While I continued to hoop throughout my entire pregnancy, even performed at seven months, getting back into the flow after having my baby has been one hell of a journey.
My body went through a dramatic change during pregnancy. I felt as if I had lost all of my muscle. When I hooped for the first time after giving birth to Miss PennyLane, I cried. For the first time in my life I had difficulties keeping the hoop spinning around my waist – and with having to teach a class in two weeks I was worried. While I often tell my students to record themselves on video while hoop dancing so they can see what they look like in their “flow”, when I did it I can honestly say that it wasn’t pretty. I was beginning to feel very discouraged. For almost five months my free dance was limited and I strayed from learning new things to avoid injury to myself or my baby. If I was going to be able to teach a full class of thirteen students, how was I ever going to get my groove back?
The first two weeks before my class I hooped daily, but I still hadn’t found my flow. I felt as if I had lost it completely. Now I had to teach other people how to find theirs. I wasn’t new to teaching. I’d been doing it for the past two years, even right up to being eight months pregnant, but there was something different going on and something different about this class. You see, this was my first sold out class. I had thirteen students signed up and I needed to make quite an impression. So, I just went for it.
In no time at all, I got my teaching groove back. It arrived in an instant and that is where I found my inspiration for finding my flow again. I found it from my students. Each one eager and ready to learn, they came into class with an open mind, a beginner’s mind and that was exactly what I needed to do as well.
Until then I hadn’t realized what I was doing – everything I tell my students not to do! I would hold myself back with negative thoughts and get discouraged when my hoop would fall. I would think too hard about how I look rather than just letting go inside the hoop. I tell my students to free their minds and let the music run through their veins, to love their bodies and themselves just as they are – and for a while there I needed these lessons the most. How can I expect my students to let go if I cannot? So I did. I picked up my hoop and I danced. I danced like I never had before. I let the hoop take all control and did whatever my body told me to do. I had no thoughts, just the feeling of pure joy. I was free.