February 27, 2012

Five Reasons I Do Want to Be a Yoga Teacher. ~ Alexa Maxwell


{Editor’s Note: Yesterday Alexa commented on my blog about why I don’t want to teach yoga and let me know she was going to write a response. I think she may have convinced me!}

People don’t believe me when I say I’m shy. I seem to be an outgoing sort, and eight years semi-clad on a stage in Times Square certainly does not indicate a reserved little wallflower. Yet, inside I’m insecure, hesitant, scared. I prefer to be a follower rather than a leader.

So, why on earth do I want to be a yoga teacher?

I am not a yoga show-off, rocking all the poses (check out my other articles, “Drunken Pigeon” and “Fear of Downward Dog”). I don’t think I know any better than anyone else the wheres, hows and whys of yoga poses. I only know a handful of Sanskrit.

But Kate’s recent article got me thinking—there must be a good reason (hell, maybe even five!) that I want to do this. So, here goes:

1. I love yoga and what it has done for me physically, mentally and spiritually.

It has made me not only familiar with, but a fan (finally!) of my own body. I want to share this and pass it on to others. (Um, not to make them a fan of mine, you understand, but of their own. You got that, right?)

2. The idea of a job where I can be clad in comfy clothes and run around barefoot makes me giggle and grin.

I have always envisioned myself as a sort of hippie. I don’t know why; I don’t wear bohemian blouses and flowing skirts except for in my fantasies—and try as I might, my hair just does not grow past my shoulders. If I put a flower or two in it, they inevitably look squished instead of fresh, and they quickly fall out (from embarrassment, no doubt.)

3. I want to deepen my own practice.

I know this is a big cliché, or a tired ploy to get people to pay for training who probably will never really want to teach, but it’s true for me. I want to understand more. I want to know the background of yoga and why it does what it does to my body. I want to explore the spiritual side. I want to know about the petals, darn it! Sure, I could get all this in books or on the internet without spending thousands of dollars, but I know me. I won’t do it. Sit me down in a formal (or semi-formal) structure and I’ll learn it. Otherwise, it could linger on my “to-do” list for a hundred years.

4. I want to be taken care of.

Maybe this just applies to the training part, but I’m tired of doing it all alone. I’ve been traveling solo since July—figuring out buses, getting lost, getting robbed, eating what’s available and cheap instead of what I want. I’m tired of trying to find the hostel, weary of hoping to fit in and be of service where I’m volunteering. I’m tired of stumbling through a second language that I am just not proficient in and being frustrated with misunderstandings or total miscomprehension. In this last month of my travels, I want someone to tell me where to go, what I’m eating, where to put my bag, and what time yoga class starts. I want someone to guide me so that eventually I’m ready to go back to guiding myself.

5. I want to bring yoga to those who might not come to it.

I don’t want to work with you. Probably. If you’re reading this, you already know yoga, you already love it, and you’re more than likely “better” than me at it. (Not a judgment, just a general observation.) Hell, this body just turned 49. I wasn’t a jock in my teens or twenties, I’m not magically going to become one now. If you are, that’s great, but you’re not who I want to teach. I want to teach the young’uns. Little kids.

In my last few years of teaching kindergarten, I incorporated yoga sessions into my class. I even bought and cut a roll of mats last year. I enjoyed passing on the love of yoga and the exploration of poses to five and six-year-old kids. I didn’t end with a Namaste—not in a public school, where even Jesus and Santa are not allowed, but ended each class with a thank you.

“Who should we thank today? The sunshine outside? Your body? The gym teacher?”

It’s almost the same thing, and more P.C.

Eventually, I might take a class to teach seniors, as I’ll eventually be joining their ranks. I want to bring yoga to those who might not come to it if I weren’t helping them along as a smiling ambassador. It’s all about sharing.

So those are my reasons.

I bet every person who commits to a teacher training has some that are similar, and some that are drastically different. That’s what makes us potentially so great when we come out of the training phase, refreshed and eager to take it to the next level, or take it to the streets, or in my case, the preschools, and spread our newfound wealth of knowledge, accumulating more as we go along. I want to be part of the rainbow of people who love to bring yoga to others, not ‘cause I’m better than anyone else, but because I feel, almost evangelistically, like spreading the good news.

Yoga’s kind of cool, and so are you, kid.


Editor: Kate Bartolotta



Alexa Maxwell is a writer, teacher, traveler and student of yoga. She is a huge fan of elephant journal and is honored to be part of the herd. You can read more at her blog here , follow her on Twitter @catnipkiss, or wait for her upcoming travel memoir which is a work in progress.

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