“I’m opening a yoga studio! Spread the word and follow my Instagram!”
My acquaintance informed me this as an all too familiar feeling of jealousy arose and my confidence as a yoga teacher began to rot inside.
In my relatively short and humble years of teaching yoga, I’ve heard this a dozen times. Every single time, I am met with the same feelings.
Then I think about all the times I said no to great opportunities, each time with what I considered, at the time, to be good reasons: I was not ready, the location was not good, the pay was not enough, it was too risky, and my favourite (with sarcasm), I am grassroots (therefore, I don’t need a yoga studio and I will teach wherever I am invited, no matter how small).
This time, however, on top of my favourite reasons, I have added my own child to the list. I am no longer as available as I was before. Hopping on a plane to teach a weekend workshop with close to no pay may have sounded fantastic in the past, but now I have a real human being utterly dependent on me 24/7. While I look forward to the day I can teach classes where he joins me, currently I am lucky if I could shower before noon without hearing my baby’s screaming cry.
My time will come again. I keep telling myself.
But while I wait for my time to come again, I must constantly remind myself of my real practice: Breathing and the first four verses of Yoga Sutra:
Atha Yoga Nusha Sanam (now the teaching of yoga)
This is my time now. And this is the time to practice yoga. No other time. There is no point in waiting to practice my yoga. It must start now.
Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodah (yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind-consciousness)
I have yoga to prevent me from drifting around like an autumn leaf and, instead, observe my thoughts and feelings. I can stop reacting and stand firmly on the ground on my own path— and no one else’s.
Tada Drashtuh Svarupe Avasthanam (then the seer stands revealed in its true form)
Then I can stay true to my own self. Comparison fogs up heavily on where I am and where I am going. I am enough and where I am is exactly where I should be.
Vritti Sarupyam Itaratra (otherwise, we identify with the activities of the mind)
If I don’t remind myself of these facts and practice daily, I will drown in my repetitive drama and end up useless to all beings including myself.
In the end, if I cannot apply what I’ve learned from yoga to my inner development daily, my yoga studio, teacher trainings, retreats, etc., are completely useless and would not be of benefit to anyone, including myself. The real purpose of yoga practice always happens within. Deep, quiet and humble like a shining light at the bottom of the ocean.
So for now, I hold my newborn baby at 3 a.m., and aimlessly walk around the house. Then once he falls asleep, I sit, practice and breathe as a humble being who is doing the best she can.
I believe my real yoga practice has just begun.
Author: Tomomi Kojima
Editor: Travis May
Photo Credit: Tomomi’s partner, Julien Becot