I began my yoga practice as a way to move through my issues and deal with them.
It was and continues to be my sacred sanctuary. I looked to my teachers as other-worldly creatures, dropped down from the heavens to enlighten me. Through my practice I learned that my expectations and views needed to shift. No one’s perfect. Perfect doesn’t even exist. As a yoga instructor now, I remind students that I’m a mere mortal too, fallible and imperfect. Let’s keep it real.
1. Eat Cheetos, the occasional Girl Scout cookie and even meat when you’re not looking.
I almost choked up my kale chips when I saw my guru tear into a bag of bright orange, crunchy junk one day. We assume that all yogis especially our leaders are vegans, vegetarians or raw foodists but that’s the trouble when you assume. Our fearless yoga leaders get unhealthy cravings just like the rest of us. One of my faves, Kathryn Budig, in The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga, advises, “I’m a strong believer that we should eat what makes our bodies feel best, but there is a yogic spin to everything, and eating is no exception.”
2. Get pissed off and say the F word!
Cursing, vulgar language and obscene gestures are not what we picture a model yoga instructor doing. We have the flawless picture from our Yoga Journal magazine of a serene being, dressed in all white in full lotus. You mean that my yoga teacher isn’t the perfect example of patience and compassion 24/7? They curse under their breaths when they’re in a hurry, waiting in line to pay two lousy bottles of kombucha or a six-pack of Coronas too?
3. Wear clothes other than bamboo, eco conscious, spandex, and cotton yoga gear or Toms.
They occasionally step out of their yoga clothes and into dresses and high heels. Sometimes, gasp, they put on make-up and blow-dry their hair too. You may not even recognize them if you see them in the corner table of California Pizza Kitchen or Olive Garden.
4. Check their texts while teaching.
Now that lots of yoga teachers are using their iPhones as their music source, if not set to airplane mode, calls and texts come in during yoga class. So, if you see your instructor glance at their phones during practice and become distracted, they may or may not have forgotten to switch on that pesky airplane mode.
5. Watch TV.
Would you be shocked to know that occasionally an episode of the Real Housewives of such and such has been watched? That’s something that normal people do, not my perfect, flawless, enlightened, wise guru. Aren’t they spending all of their free time meditating, chanting and practicing?
We come into class with a long list of expectations and beliefs about our yoga teachers.
That person that has taken the sacred seat of the teacher. What many of us do is attach ourselves to certain teachers that we connect to and put them up on a pedestal. High above the rest of us mere mortals, worshiping at their feet, free from judgment or question. But, in doing so we set ourselves up for disappointment. We can honor, respect and learn from our guides. We can respect their dedication, discipline, knowledge and experience but we must remember that they are mortals too. Just like us. So when that day comes when we see our teacher crunching on some Cheetos we won’t be crushed.
Karla Rodas has a passion for life and serving others. Her intention is to serve others with love, patience and compassion. Inspiring, educating and leading others in the sacred tradition of yoga is one of her true callings. Through yoga and writing, her greatest hope is to help others heal and tap into their own inner beauty, strength and limitless potential. Karla is currently an apprentice editor and contributing writer at www.elephantjournal.com. Karla lives in San Diego with her beloved husband Frank and two teenage sons. You can reach Karla through her website.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta