How My Yoga Students Saved Me. ~ Robyn Greenhouse

Via elephant journal
on Jun 5, 2012
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"Bent Out of Shape," Yoga and Relationships

Often yoga students might express to their teacher, “Thanks I enjoyed your class,” or “Thanks that really helped me open my hips.”

But what I, as a teacher, want to express is a thank you to my students.

What many students might not realize is how they inspire their teacher as well.

Often students place their teachers, whether yoga teachers or classroom teachers, on pedestals. I know I am guilty of doing this with my yoga teachers. I expected them to always be on time. To always know their right from left when giving instructions. To have their lesson plan memorized. And yet, they are human too.

They don’t ask to be on a pedestal because the chance of falling off this pedestal is pretty high. No matter how hard or how dedicated a teacher is, as humans there is always that chance for error.

So when I became a yoga teacher, the pressure I put on myself to live up to my expectations of a yoga teacher were very high. I listened to yoga tapes nonstop. I reviewed yoga videos on YouTube constantly. The number of books I purchased on yoga could fill a library. The bar I set was so high I made it unattainable!

The reason it was unattainable is that I’m not a machine. Sometimes when teaching I mean to say “left foot,” I see the left foot and somehow I hear myself saying “right foot” in my cue.

Sometimes during my class, when we finish the right side, I might miss a pose or two during a sequence of cues for the left side.

Once during a class, the room was getting hot. I hadn’t quite figured out how to control the temperature and the room was heating up quickly for what was not supposed to be a heated yoga class! After getting water for everyone, I returned to the front of the studio. Looking out at the students as they eagerly awaited instructions the only words I could find to say were, “I have no idea where we left off.

And you know what? It was okay. In fact, everyone shared a good laugh as the sweat continued to pour down our faces. No one was upset. We were happy to just be on our mats. It was a great lesson in patience.

I continued to teach this class and others. Even with this lesson under my belt or rather under my mat, I still demanded of myself to be the best. In truth, it was exhausting.

I talked it over with a much more experienced yoga teacher who suggested that I just continue to teach but move from my heart.

While I loved this idea, as a teacher and a way to experience life, I was still too new to enter a classroom of paying students without my lesson plan handwritten just hidden out of eyesight of the students.

So, I decided to take a break from the paying studio and return to volunteering teaching yoga classes to those who are going through troubling experiences.

It is these classes and students that saved me. Thank you so much, I will forever be indebted to these students.

Week after week they show up. Going more with the flow of the students, the feel of the class, they don’t mind if I change my music in the middle of class because I’ve decided to change where the class is headed. In fact, teaching more from my heart than from the piece of paper that is my security blanket should I forget what I had planned, I feel myself shift into a zone. A zone of complete ease and flow with the class.

I practice sharing what I’ve learned on my yoga journey. I might share a simple thought, the reason for deep breaths, or how to take your yoga practice off your mat and into your world.

And the exciting thing is that the students are listening.

While I placed pressure on myself as a teacher, I’m learning through my students. Not by lowering the bar, because I always want to keep learning, but to be okay with where I land in relation to that bar each class. While a yoga class can’t solve the issues for these students, it can help ease them through their trying times.Whether it’s the moves or just knowing they will have a chance to focus on themselves, we are here together supporting one another.

Looking back to when I first started teaching, my students didn’t mind any mistakes or missteps I took along the way. They gave me support and even constructive criticism that was helpful.

My experience of moving from yoga student to yoga teacher has been an uphill battle to quiet that inner voice that asks, “Who do I think I am teaching this ancient wisdom?”

Well, I’m here to say I’m a human just wanting to share something I love that has helped me to find balance, mindfulness and more importantly a way to quiet that little nagging voice inside myself.

From here onward, I’m moving forward trusting my abilities and myself. I’m not perfect, but who is? I don’t know everything about the benefits of yoga, but I’m willing to put the time in to learn.

Thank you to all my students for supporting me along this bumpy journey and coming to class! I’ll try to keep the heat at the right temperature.

I’ll try to remember my right from my left.

I’ll work on following my heart because somehow this has always proven the right path for me.

Most importantly, I know I’ll make mistakes but at least I’m out there trying!



Editor: Hayley Samuelson.


Robyn Greenhouse is a born again writer! Her childhood dream of being an author suddenly came back to life on her 45th birthday! Now, along with her husband, Stephen, she raises her 3 boys and 2 dogs, teaches kids and adults yoga, and writes on her blog Adventures in Laugher, Exercise and Eating Well. Please check out her blog at


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37 Responses to “How My Yoga Students Saved Me. ~ Robyn Greenhouse”

  1. Stephen Greenhouse says:

    Very inspiring and I am in love with you. Do not tell my wife (I guess it is ok considering I am already married to you). I always knew you were a great writer and person.

  2. Carol G. says:

    Robyn, I really like your honesty and openness. It's important to humanize (and humor-ize!) situations, especially within a teaching environment, because if we put up pretenses and unattainable goals of perfection, then what 'lesson' are we really teaching our students? Goals must be realistic and attainable. It sounds like everyday you are getting closer to your personal and professional goals while simultaneously positively affecting others as well. Keep on yoga-ing.

  3. Barb Bernstein says:

    Very well written and witty. It's great to read about someone who's not afraid to make mistakes. Keep it up, Robyn!

  4. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    thank you for your never ending support!

  5. TennisGroupie says:

    Being "okay with where [we] land in relation to the bar"—is a life altering moment that many strive for and so few attain; and one that you so beautifully expressed. Thank you for writing with such open honesty– it's what makes your words so meaningful, conveys your message with such clarity, and leaves one with food for thought!

  6. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    Barb, thank you so much!!

  7. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    Carol – thank you so much! I'm learning to have more realistic goals! Absolutely, will keep on yogaing!

  8. Julie says:

    From the heart and straight to the core. You addressed several issues – control, acceptance, fear of failure – that most of us struggle with every day. Thanks for opening up your learning experiences with us.

  9. Nikki says:

    I love this article! And yoga too– my favorite yoga quote is " there is no such thing as a perfect pose, because every pose is endless; so be where you are today and Breathe"…Bryan Kest,,… I am sure this applies to those who teach; it's endless and perfect for that moment, pose, student or class… :)) keep up the writing and definitely invite me to one of your classes. Love and Namaste, Nikki

  10. Jake says:

    Loved it. More insights and articles please!!!!

  11. Mamaste says:

    Loved this!
    Just intro'd on FB to: Yoga & Spirituality.

  12. Linda says:

    Robyn, this is great. Everyone wants to be perfect and it is the mistakes along the way that we learn from and that make us human. Being perfect is such a waste of time and energy. Laugh and have fun. Life is to short to sweat about the small stuff. Love your wirting. Keep it up.

  13. Sarah says:

    beautiful I am YTT I hope I can learn fro my students as they learn fro me but also see the struggle of how is it my right to give this knowledge to them- who am ?

  14. Tami Mensh says:

    Love this fresh perspective! So many teachers are out there acting the way they think a yoga teacher should act instead of being honest with themselves. They tell the students to have a "beginners mind", yet they do not. Thank you for sharing your truth and being so real.

  15. Gayle Friedman says:

    What a lovely piece, Robin! Teaching and learning are really part of the same thing, no? So wonderful that you're open to all of the ups and downs and what your students are teaching you.

  16. Lisa says:

    Beautiful perspective and writing! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  17. Shei_1 says:

    Robyn, a fantastic article that I can totally relater to. I've been "sharing my practice" with wonderful people for about a year now. At first it began as a test to see if I liked teaching before I invested in certification. Then, my daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia & I began guiding these classes, under the conditions that I "share my practice", giving the people who join, a flow of breath, asanas & relaxation / meditation to the best of my knowledge. These practices are on donation base, raising money for Leukemia research & support to patient care.

    I often feel guilty. I feel guilty because I am not certified. I feel guilty, because I never have a flow sheet, all of my classes are improvised. I feel guilty because we laugh, giggle & fall in class. Then… I feel again! I want to be the type of teacher who puts her mat on the middle of class, and not up front. I want to be the type of teacher that asks the students what the intention or thought for the class, day, week should be… and I've begun this. I put my mat next to theirs. I ask for their suggestions for intentions at the beginning of class, I ask them if they'd like to share… and I feel complete begin a part of them, not apart! And I tell my friends who join me, that the person they clap to at the end of class… I join in the clapping, because I am clapping to them. If it wasn't for them, I would be half the teacher I am & because of them, I will be on the road to my own personal epiphany, hoping they'll join me for the ride.

    I now feel that I am not alone! Thank you so much for sharing!

  18. Shei_1 says:

    I'd also like to share a little insight. A teacher once told me… "you can have 500 teachers in a room & you'll have 500 different styles of yoga".

    Be YOUnique! 😉

  19. Thanks Julie! I always love sharing experiences because you never know who is dealing with the same issues!

  20. Hi Nikki! Thanks for sharing your favorite yoga quote – it's so true!

  21. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    🙂 Hopefully more on the way!
    Thanks for reading!

  22. Thank you!! Will check out the site.

  23. Thanks Linda! Absolutely, you have to laugh!

  24. Hi Sarah! Enjoy your teaching and your journey to answering "who am I?"

  25. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    Hi Tami! Thank you for reading and your comments!

  26. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    I never thought of teaching and learning as part of the same thing, but I like that idea! Thanks!

  27. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    Thanks Lisa!

  28. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    Good luck with your teaching Shei! It sounds like you know what type of teacher you want to be and I"m sure you will be that teacher! I like the quote you shared – so true!

  29. Betsy says:

    Love this! Knowing you so well, it was clear that you were speaking from the heart. I remember so clearly you talking about the pressure you were putting on yourself when you started teaching. So glad you've found [more] inner peace when it comes to teaching. I'd take you as a yoga teacher any day!

  30. Sarah says:

    Robyn, Congratulations on being born again and setting yourself free!
    Yoga certainly keeps the journey interesting and I can't wait to read more of your connections.
    Keep rolling with it and enjoy the ride, You are perfect just the way your are.
    I love you!

  31. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    I remember talking with you about this too! Thank you Betsy!!

  32. Sarah, Thank you so much for reading the article and for your kind words!

  33. Carrie says:

    I am so proud of you Robyn! That's what makes you a great teacher. Having an open mind and learning from your students only makes you better. Everything that you do comes from your heart and that's what makes you such a genuine person. You go girl!

  34. […] mother began taking me to yoga classes and although I can barely remember the class itself, I remember lying in Savasana (Corpse Pose) at […]

  35. Robyn Greenhouse says:

    Thank you so much for your sweet words!

  36. Ava says:

    You are terrific and I always knew that you had this in you. Keep up the great work & I am soo proud of you.I wouldlove to come to one of you classes.