The Teacher I Never Met.

Via Krista Katrovas
on Sep 7, 2013
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Photo: Lisa Cyr

Photo: Lisa Cyr

After my very first yoga class 15 years ago I left knowing I had found my calling, or my dharma, to teach yoga.

But it was also a secret I kept to myself for many years.

I was living in San Diego at the time. I saw yoga teachers as being ethereal, otherworldly, better than I could ever aspire to be. I placed each of them on a pedestal, so high that I could never reach their heights. Needless to say, I had a lot of hang-ups regarding my self worth.

I was also in the midst of an abusive relationship, one that helped to whittle away my self-esteem, even more than I was already doing to myself.

I had been practicing yoga, religiously, five to six days a week, for nine years.

On those one or two days a week that I wasn’t in a yoga class, I practiced at home. I always returned to my seemingly magical mat. I’d Google teacher trainings like a junky might search for a high.

Though I never enrolled in one, it remained a secret, a dream that I kept inside, even though the tapas, the burn, and discipline was already there.

Then one day after practice, while doing my usual online teacher training voyeurism, I read an article in the local news about a beloved yoga teacher in San Diego that was killed, by a trailer hitch coming loose, flying through his front windshield, killing him instantly. There was an outpouring of love and gratitude for this thirty two year old yoga instructor.

I found recordings of his teaching and saw his beautiful practice, how simple he made it seem to go up into a handstand and come out as gracefully as he went in.

I watched in awe at how soft he landed when he jumped into plank and how his breath guided his body from Downdog into Crane as if he were a shapes-hifter turning magically into a bird.

Witnessing his practice was kin to watching how a flock of seabirds surf the air inches above the waves without ever getting wet.

I enjoyed watching his soft, yet very strong demeanor.

I was sure had he not been killed that he would’ve eventually been my teacher. And something compelled me that day, after hearing of his death, then watching the footage of his practice, to finally sign up for my first yoga teacher training.

I was nervous, still didn’t feel adequate enough to follow in the footsteps of such grace as he, but the words, “the death of one, births another,” inspired me. I had a calling to walk in his footsteps, and when I got scared, I drew on his energy to comfort me, and his grace guided every step I took towards becoming a yoga teacher.

When those self-doubting days arrived, I’d meditate on his essence.

He spoke to me, told me, “Don’t be scared, just fly,”—of course these were the words I imagined him saying to me, but that came from within, out of meditation.

After I completed that first training I took a pilgrimage to his studio. I needed to practice as a budding yoga teacher in the same space that my teacher, whom I never met, had taught me how to embrace the seat of a teacher.

The bamboo in the studio warmed my heart.

When selling my car a few years back, I ran across in my storage bin, a piece of paper that had been there for years, because I wanted to keep it, on it was scribbled the address of his yoga studio. At that moment I knew I had to write to the person that carries his legacy, his mother.

I wrote a note explaining how he inspired me, even though I never knew him in physical life, and how his spirit continues to fill me

I’ve had numerous, wonderfully gifted teachers over the years since those beginning days of teaching. I am profoundly grateful for each one of them. On Guru Purnima, the time we dedicate and honor our teachers, our Gurus, whether they be Buddha, Krishna, Gandhi, or our physical body teachers, we honor those we value for their teachings and the profound significance they offer our lives.

I would add to my list of teachers a man I never met, just as I have never met so many of them.

I now embrace wholeheartedly my life as a teacher and walk in the footsteps of those before me, those with me, and humble myself before all I have yet to learn.

I’m still guilty of placing my teachers on pedestals, but I’ve learned the difference between respect and worship and through all these wondrous teachers that I’ve come to know, the greatest teacher of them all, is the breath and the value of this very precious moment that we’ve been given, life, both the mortal and the immortal one.


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Ed: Cat Beekmans


About Krista Katrovas

Krista Katrovas (BA, MFA, E-RYT) has dedicated herself to the practice, study and teaching of yoga since discovering it in 1999 after dancing rigorously as a dance major in college. Krista has had nearly 30 articles on Yoga, Wellness, and Spirituality published in nationally regulated magazines. She has taught Yoga in Prague every July since 2009 and has been sought to teach in Canada, Virginia, Kentucky, and Florida, and more recently, Kuwait (though she declined the generous offer to teach in Kuwait). She calls Kalamazoo, MI home, where she teaches Yoga, Shamanic Yoga, Meditation, and offers Spiritual guidance. This year Krista will be training in the Prison Yoga Project, and will help to bring more yoga to Prisons. Visit her website.


12 Responses to “The Teacher I Never Met.”

  1. Laura Ashworth says:

    Wonderful post Krista! I'll always remember you fondly as one of my most inspirational teachers (even though I only took a few of your classes while at the Prague Summer Program).

  2. Mary Ann says:

    You are a great writer as well as a teacher!

  3. Krista says:

    Thanks so much, Laura! I’m honored and humbled by your kind words and actions. Keep shining! Blessings!

  4. lisa little says:

    My Sister and most favorite teacher/writer I know!

  5. Gloria says:

    To my Krista,
    Thank you for the beautiful words about my son Sean. I love your writtings as well. May you continue his legacy and inspire everyone you teach with your compassionate, patient, non-judgeing and understanding heart. You rock sweetie!
    Gloria O'Shea

  6. krista says:

    Thanks, Mary Ann! Infinite Blessings! Keep Shining Bright!

  7. krista says:

    My teacher of joy, Sissy! I <3 you!!!!! I appreciate all the love and also, our soul-filling sisterhood, and also, friendship. <3 <3 <3 We got the best Mama ever!!! 🙂

  8. Krista says:

    Blessings, Dear Gloria,
    You did an amazing job bringing a lovely light into this world, and I am so honored, grateful and deeply humbled by this special connection! (You rock, too! 🙂 Keep shining! Infinite Blessings, Respectfully Yours, Krista

  9. Very lovely article! thank you for sharing 🙂
    Erich Schiffmann

  10. Janey Maeser says:

    This one was very moving to me, Krista. I remember those days of years gone by and the dedication you had to practice your Yoga daily (when we would come visit). I think you are one of the best at teaching because you are so filled with the spirit of what you are doing and breathing. My daughter, the teacher; oh! so proud of you. Keep it up. M..OM

  11. Krista says:

    WOW! THE Erich Schiffmann- teacher to Glorious McManus. I love your Moving Into Stillness. Blessings. Hope to meet one day. 🙂

  12. Krista says:

    You are, and will continue to be, my greatest teacher, Mom. I love you. Your Krista~Bird.