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NOT a Yoga Teacher

I am neither a yoga teacher, nor do I teach yoga.

Don’t get me wrong, I AM a yoga teacher and I DO teach yoga.

Confused?  Me too.  I am constantly curious about this practice, questioning what I know and how to effectively communicate it to a room of 15-30 people at a time.  I make an effort to really see my students and toss them verbal cues, but that is not completely possible for me without getting off the mat.

My goal for my teaching in 2012 is to get off the mat!  In order to do that with purpose and embracing the yoga tenet of Ahimsa (doing no harm), I know what I have to do.  Practice!

If you’ve ever taken my class you might recognize that I am verbally instructive, have fun with the practice, add in some element of the spiritual aspects and play, sometimes, unconventional music (always including at least one Grateful Dead song).  I love teaching; I love my students; I love this practice!  After 13 years of practicing and more than a year of teaching I know one thing for sure; I want to be more than a popular teacher, I want to be a great teacher.

I’ve taken extremely satisfying, even transcendent, classes with teachers who don’t leave their mats.  Some of my favorite teachers inspire me without once setting foot off the mat or assisting me in a pose.  That said, when I take a class with a teacher who walks around instructing, adjusting and assisting, my practice takes on new dimensions and I soar down the path, grounded, without touching the ground.

I’m not a particularly conceptual person so verbal cues don’t always translate specifically to the pose in my body.  While it’s nice to feel good in a pose, sometimes that feeling, if not in alignment, can turn into injury over time.  When a teacher assists or adjusts in the pose, the physical touch creates clarity.  It is this clarity that unifies the body, mind & spirit, propelling us forward in the practice.

That is one simplified explanation of why this is called, “Not a Yoga Teacher.”  The other, possibly more important reason for this title has to do with Titles.  Calling myself a Yoga Teacher is another label I attach to my idea of who I am.  If I am a Yoga Teacher who one day cannot teach yoga for one reason or another, then what am I?  Who am I?

Since I was a small child, I only ever wanted to be an actress.  That title carried me through all the shows, camps, programs, classes and even the acting program at NYU’s TISCH School.  There was a point during my studies in college (though I never admitted it then) when that title no longer fit.  But, I’d worn that badge so long and attached it to my idea of myself with such fervor that it seemed inconceivable that I could be me without it.  I don’t want that to happen with being a yoga teacher.

I am happily treading this path, sometimes moving ahead, sometimes stalled and occasionally veering off to one side or another.  Sound familiar?  This makes me more a student of yoga than a teacher.  I practice living my life guided by the lofty love of yoga, but as a human who is not yet enlightened, I sometimes falter.

So, if you see me in the grocery store disciplining my children in a voice foreign to the sultry timbre heard from my mat, try not to judge or make excuses or think things like, “…and SHE’S a YOGA Teacher!”  SHE’s not a yoga teacher; she’s a person who loves yoga and has the privilege to share it while trying to figure out how to live it completely.

What are you NOT?

2 Responses to “NOT a Yoga Teacher”

  1. Susan says:

    i am considered an anti-yogi by “real” yogis. i have fun, i am certified, but realize you can also have fun with yoga and not just be wrapped up in a towel on a mountain drinking dew to be considered a yogi! i think yoga should be for everyone! love your site!

  2. sherry says:

    I’m with you; yoga for the people! I never thought I’d teach since my practice never matched my vision of what a teacher’s practice should look like (whatever that is;-). The teacher who invited me to take the training (and the challenge) is gifted in recognizing people’s gifts and meeting them where they are. (And I’m so glad she did, since I truly believe I’ve found my life’s path.) You notice how every teacher offers something different, and usually just what you need that day you take her/his class? That’s the magic of this practice; no two teachers or practitioners need look the same or approach the practice from the same doorway. Since our gifts vary, what a shame it would be to deprive a class of one’s wisdom because it doesn’t match the “perfect pose” or idea of what a yogi is or should be. As long as we’re true to the nature of yoga and its ancient roots, we can play and evolve our way down this path of experiential truth. From one work in process to another… ;-)