Being in the yoga world, so to speak, comes with a fair amount of interesting baggage. And, when I say the yoga world, I am referring to the modern interpretation of it. I haven't understood why nowadays it is about having the "right" things to say, a beautiful and limber body, or a big dose of charisma to establish yourself as a yoga teacher, but not only that, a yoga expert. It doesn't seem to add up. Techniques and quick fixes into postures don't make an informed yoga teacher, necessarily. But then it goes back to the question, "What is yoga? What does it mean to practice yoga?" It looks like this topic will have to be summed up in another lengthy blog post. I mean, I don't have all the answer(s) (obviously), but at any rate, they are essential questions to ask and to revisit from time to time. Like I find myself doing.
The best advice I had ever received when I began teaching yoga was two-fold.
First, teach as a practice in itself, and at the same time, never sacrifice my own practice to teach. What I teach must be a part of my experience, part of my daily practice. It then emanates from and through me. Energetically, I find you can't really fake this one. Maybe for a while, but it doesn't last for long.
Secondly, being transparent to the method/practice I am teaching. Meaning, keep it pure, taking my own judgment/spin-off of it. Taking myself out of the equation. Being more concerned with teaching the method correctly than with having the desire to be liked and/or approved of.
See, being transparent doesn't necessarily mean being devoid and without passion for what is being transmuted. If anything, it seems to invoke even more passion and wisdom when it comes to teaching. Emptying myself, being open to allowing the wisdom to work through me, is the residual effect from practice and has a way of naturally unfolding. Call it grace, call it what you will. The more I empty, the more the energy and wisdom come through. I lose individuality. I expand into something bigger than myself.
Of course, there are days when it is harder to connect than others, but then again, it goes back to looking to teaching as a practice. As time goes, the intuitive nature grows. There is an expansion, there is a deepening. The practice of teaching breathes unto itself.
What I have come to understand is I can always take a break from teaching, no problem, and resume it again as long as I continue my own practice. In many ways, it is the same. You can't learn this stuff in books. You have to walk through the fire daily on your own volition. The experience is the teacher. Books, yoga trainings, and the myriad of workshops are the mere 1%. Theory can be talked about until kingdom come, but experience, well, it can only be felt into the reality of who we are. The formless, unspeakable, unexplainable part of who we are. The gateway, conscious breath. The path, breath synchronized movement, vinyasa. We experience yoga. The journey and the destination, in union.
I don't understand the need for a stage. Getting the hands dirty is where it's at. Into the nitty-gritty of what my students are about and what they are coming to know about themselves. It's about them, not me, and at the end of the day, I couldn't be more fulfilled coming from this place of ultimate service. I am learning just as they are. In a way, I come from a place of being a teacher's student when I teach, because I always find myself being a student. A mirror image. A transparency develops between the two relationships. This is where the juice is -- in the interdependent relationship that develops within ourselves and how we approach the practice. Between us, our teachers, and the community we find ourselves connected to. I find it fascinating. The roles we play seemingly melting into each other. A synergy that speaks louder than words because what we experience is energetic in nature. The unseen reality. Isn't that what we are tapping into anyway?
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