November 6, 2013

When I Teach, I Learn: 5 Reasons to Teach the Thing You Love.

What I love most about teaching is how much I get to learn.

Teaching yoga keeps my head in the game and inspires me to constantly reach for new levels of understanding.

You don’t have to be an official “teacher” to teach. All you have to do is love something, and find someone who wants to know about it. If you do, here are some things that are likely to happen.

1) You will manifest the thing you love more fully in your life.

When I prepare to teach yoga, I immerse myself in all things yogic. I think about the philosophy, the mechanics, the community,  the language and more. I read the Yoga Sutras, find and explicate quotes, work through sequences, and listen to great music in order to create the most comprehensive class possible. When I do these things, my brain switches to “all yoga” mode, and I practice what I am getting ready to teach almost without thinking about it.

For example, my theme in a recent yoga class was the “Golden Rule” and how strong core values inform everyday decisions, and also how core values are analogous to a strong physical core, which helps us perform everyday tasks with ease.

I found myself, for several days before the class, mulling over the Golden Rule– do unto others as you would have them do unto you—and abiding by it in the strictest way possible. I discovered some moments (more than I care to admit) where I wasn’t naturally practicing what’s called the “ethic of reciprocity”, and because I was thinking about it, was able to make more compassionate choices.

2) You will come to love the thing you love even more.

I loved yoga from the first (awkward) class I took, but the way I feel about it now has a depth and dimension I never could have imagined.

I’ll compare it to a wild romance. You meet someone, you fall in love, but you barely know each other. If it’s true love, the more you discover, the better it gets, until you’re two old folks sitting on the porch finishing each other’s sentences. Those years of living together, working together, and getting through tough times together have created an intractable love that is rooted in knowledge.

You may go through many wild romances to discover your one true love, but when you finally find it, you’ll want to know everything, and will feel your adoration and appreciation grow with each unturned stone.

3) You become surrounded by like minded people.

When you teach the thing you love, you are no longer swimming upstream (unless you are a stats teacher in charge of a freshman class). With rare exceptions, you will be spreading the good word to people who want to hear it, and the more you teach, the more you draw those sorts of people to you.

When I lead a yoga class, I’m not trying to convince anyone to be there. The odd person who comes against their will normally doesn’t come back, which leaves me smiling gladly at a bunch of faces who are smiling back at me. It’s nice to feel the heart vibrations from others who are learning the thing you love, because love begets love.

4) You find out that the thing you love is infinite.

I was watching a great documentary on Jimi Hendrix last night. What struck me most is that everyone without exception said he always had a guitar in his hand. Jimi was also quoted as saying that “he knew he would die before he reached 30”, and that he was okay with that, except for the fact that he would leave songs unsung.

He clearly understood that when you love something, it is endless. There is no finishing point.

Teaching brings you to that conclusion as well. The more you discover, the more you realize there is to be discovered.

5) You become the thing you love.

Just like the old couple on the porch or Jimi with his guitar, the edges between you and the thing you love begin to blur. I don’t just teach yoga, I eat, breathe and sleep it, and doing so has changed the actual matrix of who I am.

Teaching others passionately is a gift you give to yourself. By becoming a conduit for knowledge and experience you create ripples of growth in places and in people that stretch out across time. You become engaged in being, you transmit love, and really, what higher goal could there possibly be?


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Ed: Bryonie Wise




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Yoga Training Nov 12, 2013 4:50am

Teaching Yoga is not just about teaching and passing your skills on to others, it's about learning as well. I second with you completely on this. It's amazing when you find out that the thing you love is infinite and you've got so much more to learn.

Getting surrounded by like minded people is something that makes you feel that you are at the right place. Teaching others passionately is certainly a gift you give to yourself.

Take a bow Elephant Journal. Your words give me so much positivity and confidence. Thanks for sharing.

Marianne Nov 9, 2013 11:00pm

So very true for me as well. I went through a honeymoon phase with teaching; met opposition in the community, and promptly stepped out. What I found was a draw back to teach each time my yoga and I had a "spat". What is interesting for me at this point is the freedom I have had in teaching when money was a non-issue. As soon as I am being given opportunity to earn money I quit. This teaching truly teaches the teacher no matter what. Will anyone admit at times you too have wanted to "take a break" from the relationship? I won't but just this metaphor of relationships growing old keeps me learning.

Joe Sparks Nov 9, 2013 4:14am

A key requirement for teaching is devotion to and a delight in having and doing things right, a love for finding and carrying out the most rational, workable, and elegant plan or solution for any situation or to any difficulty. And when you become a teacher of yoga your life no longer suffers from meaninglessness. You are through waking up and going to sleep and wondering why you bother. Teaching yoga gives a purpose to life, one that endures.

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Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed psychotherapist, registered yoga teacher, published author, and imperfect mom. Visit her at PsycheFinder, her new website—the only site that finds your mental health professional for you. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.