When I first began teaching, my mind was filled with what I should and shouldn’t be doing.
I should teach or say this, I shouldn’t be smoking weed or cigarettes.
I felt like I was supposed to “know” something more than the poses in order to teach.
While all of that was actually true for me, that mentality and the anxiety that came with it really wasn’t helping me become a better teacher.
It was a sign for me to go deeper and to get the help to do so.
I looked around endlessly for more trainings and certificates, something that spoke to who I was and what I wanted to offer, something that would make me more qualified.
What I have come to find is that the connection that I would build to my heart, my soul, over the following years is what qualifies me more than anything.
Ironically, the person who helped me get there couldn’t have cared less about certificates.
“It’s ok to teach others to seek what you are seeking.”
These powerful words are from David Harshada Wagner’s webinar, The Art of Helping.
They are so powerful because they take away the pressure of feeling like we have to pretend to know everything as teachers.
I’m not sure why the notion of “pretending” seems important for many of us, but I know that it is. Maybe it comes from our sincere desire to help others, as well as wanting to be liked, accepted and loved.
Anytime we are pretending we are not open to the power of what we can offer as teachers.
The strength and connection I have cultivated in order to better sit and share my heart with others has more to do with an un-doing than a doing.
I started to train with David immediately at the end of my Anusara training, and began learning what it felt like to be connected to the power of my soul.
Before that, I hadn’t the slightest idea of what emotions I was actually experiencing (or not experiencing), let alone the ability to articulate them or be present with what was happening.
Before I found this deeper sense of connection with myself, I spent much of my time before, during and after class worried about what I was going to do or teach or say: it was all a struggle.
As I practiced connecting to my heart and soul in meditation and leadership training, I began to see and experience all that I truly am—unraveling the hardwired identifications that were causing me intense suffering, and blocking any experience of freedom.
It is common for yoga teachers to have anxiety when they sit down in front of their classes, always feeling like they need to know more to be a good teacher.
And yes, of course, we should always be honing our skills of the body when it comes to yoga, but the rest of being an authentic teacher comes from how comfortable you are within your own heart.
Another line from David’s webinar is that “you can’t swindle someone’s heart.” This is so true.
We can train and support other people in what we ourselves are experiencing or have experienced, but beyond that, we are teaching others to seek what we are seeking.
If we aren’t living truthfully, then we have to sit down in front of a class and take on some role.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have taken on many different roles sitting before my students.
From pretending to “know,” to masking the self-hatred surrounding my addictions or hiding the shakiness I felt about the drama in my relationships…many things have pulled me out of my center and made me unable to truly see and serve the people in front of me.
When I began to “un-do,” I started feeling more authentic. I viewed myself as a container, able to hold myself and other people in a beautiful way. I worked to strengthen that container.
I will always be digging deeper into my heart and sharing what is deeply important to me and hopefully relevant to others, but now I can trust myself.
I can be myself fully, and I can support others in discovering themselves.
The path to authenticity is not easy, but it is totally worth it.
We must bring this type of integrity and service into the yoga world.
It is important to help other women find and use their most authentic voice to lead others.
We must create a space and community where we can all grow in this together—without judgment or fakeness, in truth and in love.
Let us support one another in the common intention to bring more love and good into this world.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Emma Ruffin / Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Provided by author