Anyone who goes out on a limb to follow their passion better do it big. They better give it all or, why even go? Now take that intention and multiply it times 100 lives (or 1000, or 10,000) and you have a yoga teacher. All of those lives ingesting whatever comes out of your mindful (or not so mindful) mouth. I say, any teacher who doesn’t passionately go out to be their best every single time has got some serious ‘splaining to do…
It is most definitely my mission to be the greatest teacher I can be. What an honor it is to inspire those who grant me the opportunity to lead them in a practice. It is without a doubt the number one best feeling in the world. The interacting–the give and take, that is. Human connection. Not for the compliments after class, but for getting out words that just might empower, uncover, and replenish others, AND myself.
Think about it, the yoga studio is one of the few sacred places left in this technological “text me, don’t call because I don’t have time” world. We choose to put the phone down, the email away, and gyrate around barefoot for an hour or so with a community of like-minded people. Glorious. Yogis are trained to check their egos at the door. Bodily limits are respected, labels swept aside. Yogis open nearly every orifice and sense that they possess, from their multi-layered core to the crown of their head; from their outer heels to their inner breath. Respect is here. Love, gratitude, balance, and connection are floating around…and if not, I believe it is a yoga teacher’s job to cultivate that (or work harder to bring home the theme of the class). A captive audience is listening and we must deliver. The quality of interaction is at a cosmic level. This is the apex of fundamental human connection and humility. It is not only my duty but my privilege to give something of substance within this arena. Agree?
I am not suggesting every teacher turn into a babbling homemade psychologist (even though there are some out there), or quote zealotry (had my moments), but to simply teach what makes sense, that you can relate to and enjoy, to speak what you think is right and have researched. Or please, quit teaching.
I know what it means to crave the respectful guidance of an instructor. As a child, it was not easy to rely on myself, but I did. (And actually, as an adult, it isn’t much easier…though it does seems that way now). I realize I have not had a hard life compared to many. I have not had challenges that broke me. I can see that my own inflexibility is likely a reflection of the pain I harbored for over 20 years. So Yes, teaching and preaching what I believe and the pain I went through IS apart of my classes. I am not Iyengar. I am not Forrest. Do I pull from them? Hell to the yes! Do I try to make my students laugh? Allllll the time. But that’s me, not my point.
There are likely at least a handful of yoga teachers each one of us wouldn’t trade for anything. Without knowing our stories, these beings give us tools for living. I think that is a trait of a strong yoga teacher. And if they can get me into yoga nidra in sixty minutes, that’s cool too, but not essential.
Here’s my point: Because of great teachers, I have found a way to share who I want to be, and let go of what I was. Actually, make that who I was told I was. I have allowed myself to dedicate energy to slow growth, love without condition, to accept and to faithfully follow what feels right inside. No matter the consequence or how high the limb. Now, I can forgive important people like my Mom. As a teacher, when I hear stories from students of how their practice is changing their lives, I am humbled every single time. I just want to remind them (as they do me) they, too, are strong. Strong because of their flexibility to get here from there. And to keep going.
I just want to do for them what they do for me. It just feels right. I must bring my best, because I ask for nothing less from my students and everyone around me. How about you, what is your purpose for teaching and how do you cultivate that in each class?