This morning, as I drank my morning tea, I came across this beautiful article on elephant entitled, “The World Does Not Need More Yoga Teachers,” by Rebecca Lammersen.
Because I am about to get my certification in a few months, the title made me tense so I had to click it. I had to read it. I had to find out why she already didn’t like me, when my career had barely even begun!
But, Rebecca doesn’t hate yoga instructors. She just sees through the bullsh*t that has become, what Waylon Lewis refers to as, the yoga industry. The business of the practice has somehow started to out-shine the practice itself. Everyone wants to be insta-famous and have millions of followers. They want clothing brands, TV shows, and book deals that will put their names in lights.
I can really relate to this.
For a while there, I got caught in a horrible cycle. I was suddenly more interested in taking pictures of cool poses than in my actual practice. I didn’t even realize what was happening. It was like I was blind to how far I had strayed, like an addict who couldn’t see the damage I was doing.
My entire college career was spent stealing moments here and there, in the mornings and after my homework was done, to roll out my mat and get lost in the soothing rhythm of my heartbeat. I would get lunch to go and literally eat it as I walked back to my dorm, just so I could sit and breathe between classes. I didn’t have Instagram then, even though others did. I only had Youtube, though I wasn’t posting videos myself. Instead, I watched others, and taught myself yoga with the help of those videos because there were no classes near me.
Even when I went abroad, I didn’t get Instagram. But, I did buy a yoga mat my first day in Russia so I could continue to practice.
I loved my practice.
Those stolen moments were what kept me going.
Then, my senior year, I started leading classes on my campus. Fall semester, we met twice a week. Then, my last semester of college, by popular demand, we met four times a week. I loved those classes. I loved introducing people to yoga and guiding them through their practice…but what I loved most was the few minutes before class started when I would be sitting in the front of the room and people would walk into the studio and take a seat on the floor and just breathe before the music started and the sweat began to pour.
The yoga classes I led were a lot of fun and many people would thank me afterwards, because those 45 minutes (I always let out at 15 to, so that everyone had enough time to get to class!) were what kept them sane, especially during midterms and finals season.
The 45 minutes of moving meditation were fun! But, I think those few quiet moments before things got going and the five minutes of silence at the end (in Savasana) were what really helped everyone who came to my class.
I wasn’t certified. I let everyone know that. I wasn’t there to tell people how to do a pose or what to do on their mat. I’d practice right there with them, talking them through my own practice if they wanted to follow (because they were new to the practice and weren’t familiar with the poses).
I was there to offer a space for their practice to grow. I was there to inspire them to take 45 minutes for themselves. I was there to introduce them to tools that could help them through their struggles.
I started using Instagram after college, posting yoga pictures daily. It started as a cool way to connect with other yogis, since I was no longer on campus and with the cool kids who came to class. There are no studios where I live and it gets a little lonely, which is why I love the internet. But, it is so easy to lose sight of what’s really important, when the idea of being Insta-famous seems so shiny.
But, yoga isn’t about building a following.
Yoga is life itself, there to give us an appreciation of our breath, which is the source of life.
Rebecca Lammersen doesn’t hate yoga instructors. She loves students—a great student is a great teacher because they respect the practice.
So, forget Instagram. Put away your phone. Back away from the camera. All you need is your mat (or just a bit of empty space). Practice. Practice. Practice and all is coming.
Author: Stacy Porter
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own