I am a new yoga teacher and I was recently asked why.
Why did I want to teach?
Why do I practice?
What’s the big deal?
What may seem like simple questions have very long-winded answers when you ask me. So here goes:
At a very naive and sheltered 16 years of age, I experienced an unimaginable tragedy.
At 3:30am on a chilly Monday morning in November, I watched my mom take her last breaths of life as my dad held her and kept screaming her name. It was unexpected.
My world, as I knew it, ended that morning.
My family, as I knew it, dissolved that day as well.
My dad, my sister and I all began to deal with our loss individually. Since that day, it’s been just me. I’m the one who has to take care of me, I’m the one who has to deal with me, and I’m the one who is at fault when things don’t work out.
In the beginning, it was a coping mechanism. No one was going to deal with the loss and the emotions for me, it had to be an inside job. Over the years after my mom’s death, my sense of “it’s just me” turned into judgment and self-hatred, being extremely critical, an acute awareness of every flaw I have and a bully. I had become a Meredith-bully.
I first came to my mat to try something new and wasn’t prepared for what I got.
I found peace. I found kindness. I found acceptance, for myself.
You see, I’m not your average yogi. I don’t wear the latest yoga gear (because the most popular brands wouldn’t fit one butt cheek or one boob of mine), I’m still working on staying in downward facing dog for more than three breaths or any pose really and at first glance some might think I’m the last person you’d see in a yoga studio.
What others view as no big deal, such as a simple down dog, I view as a huge accomplishment. I celebrate the smallest of victories in my practice each and every time I step onto my mat. Those little victories are the reason I keep trying, the reason I don’t lose hope, the reason I don’t lose faith and the reason why I stand back up after I fall again and again and again.
It’s why I continue to practice.
I don’t think anyone can hate you as much as you can hate yourself. No one can bully you as much as you can bully yourself, and there are no laws/rules to keep you from bullying yourself. Finding yoga, and recovering from being a Meredith-bully, is also why I teach.
Yes, I’m also a yoga teacher. The person who can’t hold a down dog for very long, who rarely does a chaturanga, and who you’d never guess would step foot in a yoga studio is, in fact, a yoga teacher.
My self-bullying recovery helps me become a better teacher on a daily basis. How can I step in front of a class and talk about kindness when I don’t show it to myself? How do I talk about letting things go when I’m still holding on?
Again, it’s an inside job. I had to address those so I can be present for my students. The more students I get to teach, the more humility I get to experience. With every class I’m asked to teach, I find more gratitude. With every “thank you” after class, a little piece of my past rejections melt away.
Sometimes I feel like I’m stealing because I get so much from each one of my students I don’t know if I’m giving enough to make it a fair trade. I found love when I stepped onto my mat, self-love.
The overwhelming urge to pay it forward is why I teach.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Hannah Harris / Editor: Renée Picard