The yoga teacher journey begins in many different ways, and each teacher’s journey has unique characteristics. My journey began in the one moment
when I first experienced internal peace and tranquility; I realized my ability to be in the now. This quieting of the mind drove me to continue my journey to reclaim that experience of peace and awareness.
As my journey continued I approached each class as a surrender letting at the sound of my breath and enjoying the opening of my body. My practice extended to several times a week and inevitably as months passed, I started to contemplate teaching. I wanted to take the enjoyment, peace and balance of my own practice and find a way to share this with others: friends, family and even total strangers.
This realization sparked a change in my own journey that I found to be both exciting and confusing, reaffirming and full of doubt. As my training began I was overwhelmed by the detail and amount of theory, philosophy and asana work that was involved, but also happy for the challenge. Sanskrit names, Yamas and Niyamas, proper sequencing, and the breath consumed me. I tried not to compare my progress with that of my classmates as I wanted this to be a personal journey but I grew frustrated with myself after numerous attempts at poses that I couldn’t master and started to lose my ability to be present in the now. My effort didn’t seem to be “showing up” on the mat. I started to question my choice to become a teacher. I no longer felt an inner tranquility at the end of my practice.
Then it hit me. I was trying too hard. I was too focused on the physical aspects of the yoga that I had lost myself. Like so many other yogi’s I am a typical “type A” personality, striving to see results and to measure progress by the performance of my asanas. As my training progress I started to step into having patience and compassion towards myself, opening to a practice without expectations.
As I began to let go of my attachments, like magic, my practice blossomed. My awareness of my breath and my ability to be in the now returned. It was an incredible feeling to reach these new depths without attachment or expectation. My practice was once again enjoyable and rewarding and returned to my desire to share the practice with others.
However as I began to teach the insecurity, anxiety and doubt appeared again. Teaching was completely different that I had expected and I had to realign myself to my students levels of ability and understanding. I had become used to those in my training who knew the names and alignments of all the poses and now I had to find how to verbalize what I meant! This was a fast and furious awakening! I again found myself questioning whether or not I was cut out for teaching? Was I confident and technically proficient? What was my teaching style? Were my students enjoying themselves?
As I pushed through this new challenge I came to realize this is a natural part of the journey of a new teacher. The students are your living, breathing, instantaneous feedback. After about two months I started to feel better, my class was flowing and I felt comfortable with the way the students responded. Students would return with compliments and I began to understand each students strengths and weaknesses. I started to cultivate the connection between student and teacher, feeding on their energy and celebrating their progress.
I can now reflect on this beautiful journey and exist in my “now”. Hopefully others in-progress and new teachers who are experiencing the ups and downs of the journey can take this personal essay as an assurance that it is a normal and healthy part of the process.