November 7, 2013

To Be, or Not To Be: A Yoga Teacher. ~ Chelsea Atilla

How could I possibly be a good yoga teacher?

I am not a good yogi. I can’t stick a perfect handstand without a wall behind me. Hell, I can’t even bend my legs into a full lotus. Do you really think I can read, correctly pronounce, and recite sanskrit from memory?

What does it even mean to be a “good yogi” or just a yogi for that matter? What is all this hype about? Am I just on board the yoga-fad train?

These are all questions and concerns that I have the week before I embark on my 200-hour initial yoga teacher training. What it boils down to is this: forgiveness, practice, living what I teach. Forget the rest. Ignore the criticism. Do not focus on what I can’t do, rather, focus on what I can do.

I can show up with full intention.

I can breathe. I can flow to my own rhythm. I can positively affect someone’s day, maybe even their life.

To me, this is yoga. I know my body and I honor it. I do what is right for my body at each moment (on the mat at least). I strive to remove all bounds, drop all judgement, have forgiveness. We all have those “Oh crap” moments.

For me, it’s when my brain just can’t turn off, and the more my teacher says to return to my breath, the more agitated I get. “But right now I want to dwell on my to-do list, dream about what’s for dinner, hope that he texted me back.” It’s ok.

Sorry to break it it to ya, but guess what? You are human. Phew! Now that that’s on the table.

Consciousness. Its what separates us from all other mammals. We are the only ones who think, and dissect our thoughts. A bird flies. A fish breathes underwater. They all eat when they are hungry—without thought. Only action.

I used to get very angry at myself for feeling the way I feel. This happened because I thought that my feelings and thoughts (are they the same?) were incorrect. My inner dialog was constantly screaming, “But I should be letting go! Shouldn’t I be levitating or something by now?! Why can’t I turn off?” It wasn’t until I dropped the “Why” from the situation did clarity become a reachable concept.

Bing bing!! There goes the lightbulb! Wow, what a simple idea! Stop asking why I am feeling this way, and just feel it! Thoughts and feelings simply cannot be correct or incorrect. They just are.

Forgiveness. It wasn’t until I started to forgive myself for feeling, that I was able to let go of the feelings themselves. The monkey loosened his grip. My chest opened up. I could breathe deeply. Now, the thoughts and emotions come and go. They pass by like fluffy clouds on a sunny day. They say hello like an old friend, and continue strolling down the street. Relief.

Just because I have yet to get completely vertical in a standing split, does not mean that someday I won’t.

It definitely does not mean that I won’t be a good teacher. Our experiences are what make us whole. A teacher is someone who experiences the knowledge before a student. Not better, or worse, just before. Eventually that student, too, will pass along the knowledge, and inadvertently, become a teacher him/herself.

I have been practicing the asanas and my pranayama for almost 10 years. I have barely scratched the surface.

I have finally wound up the courage to take my practice and purpose to the next level. I am constantly trying to drop the ego.

It feels right. I do what I want, when I want it. I am real.  I am forever a student.  This is why I will be a good teacher.


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Ed: Dana Gornall

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