August 21, 2013

Confessions of Bad Yoga Teacher.

In the past, I have written why I love Asthanga even though it doesn’t always love me.

I’ve also written about the sort of students one might encounter as a teacher. However, I never gave much in-depth thought as to why I teach.

Simply put, I do it because I like it. In many ways, I am surprise I teach at all because when I decided to enroll in teacher training nearly three years ago, I was unsure if I wanted to teach.

Why take teacher training then, you ask?

Because I wanted to learn more about yoga. I didn’t have the time or money to go to India and spend months there immersing myself in yoga practice, so this sounded like the next best thing.

However, I found out that I actually enjoyed teaching and I’ve been teaching yoga every since I completed training.

It hasn’t been all fun and games. While I never expected to make a living off my earnings, some months I barely made enough to cover the costs of my gas money or child care expenses.

Also, as many have noted, yoga teachers don’t get a lot of respect in general. Many people are geniunely surprised when I tell them the cost of yoga teacher training—not just in term of money but also time. (200 hours usually only refers to the amount of time in the training—not the “homework” required asana/meditation/pranayama practice and other things that are often required outside of class.)

Also, I felt like a faker at times. In some ways, I still do. I am really not that yogic; I am actually rather unyogic in a lot of ways. While I would love to envision myself all peaceful and Zen-like with a smile on my face, I can be petty and mean-spirited at times.

I just hide it well.

I’ve even felt that way towards fellow teachers including one who (without me asking for it) critiqued my class in a very lengthy email and said my use of the word “difficult” when describing a certain pose was morally debilitating to my students. She signed it “Love and blessings” when my initial reaction upon reading it was more, “screw” and “you.”

The truth is, I am not the best teacher in the world or even at the studio where I teach.

I don’t know all the answers.

I am not perfect at all the poses.

And here’s another confession which I never shared before: I got into yoga at first for the purported physical rewards. It wasn’t the spiritual.

However, it’s because of my imperfections that I practice and teach yoga. If yoga was only reserved for the “perfect” then I daresay there would be very few yoga teachers and practitioners.

On occasions, I have had students tell me that I appear to be very calm and together. While initially I was flattered, I was quick to point out that many times, I am as far from that as one can be.

While yoga has certainly helped me achieve more calmness and balance in my life, I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot of work to do that unfortunately yoga in and of itself cannot do alone.

As I read over these things, I have to ask myself why I was ever scared to “confess” these things. It isn’t because I was afraid people would ever think I am perfect either as a teacher or a human being. (Anyone who spends five minutes talking to me will figure out that I miss the perfect mark by a country mile.)

Rather, seeing all these “failings” exposed is humbling, but it also confirms why I am drawn to and continue to welcome yoga into my life: If I or anyone else was perfect and/or really had it together, we wouldn’t need yoga.

Perhaps by seeing my physical and emotional imperfections actually inspires some.

In any case, that is my hope.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise


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