Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Letter to Yoga Teachers:
Dear yoga teachers, I know we came to this practice because of our own problems most likely. Possibly it was physical, probably anxiety, depression, back pain, or stress. Possibly you were introduced to yoga by a friend, social media, your local gym, or maybe you saw some ad and thought it would be cool. Then you decided to become a yoga teacher/ instructor. You went through a 200 hour training, hopefully a good one and felt more nervous about teaching then you did the day you walked in the door because you realize how much there is to learn. The more you teach the more you realize you have to keep learning. You realize the world of yoga is so vast that you will never know everything. And that is okay.
Social media is covered with people of all shapes and sizes doing yoga. Any topic you can think of now you can find with the word yoga attached to it. There is goat yoga, dog yoga, restorative yoga, power yoga, prenatal yoga, children's yoga, acrobatic yoga, aerial yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga, chair yoga, yoga therapy, yoga for healthy aging, face yoga, yoga for trauma, yoga for PTSD,and the list goes on. It almost makes your head spin.
It's commonplace now to see people wearing mala beads, headbands, flowing clothes, fitted yoga pants with sustainable footwear. Call me guilty, it's my favorite style.
You have people in the yoga world fighting over the integrity of yoga, over what's the real yoga, or what is acceptable and not acceptable. What is a good teacher training what is not a good teacher training. Who should be allowed to teach and who should not be allowed to teach. It's just so dang un-yoga like much of the time. The whole concept of do not harm (Ahimsa) seems to be very lost.
I believe it's created a crisis for so many yoga teachers, people with well intentions who get disgusted with it all. I've fallen into this trap myself especially in the area of Sanskrit. I'll pronounce something a certain way only to be corrected and then be corrected again. Usually to find out I was saying something correctly in the first place.
I can only speak from my scope of practice and my experience.  Many years ago I walked away from yoga for seven months and came back to train teachers. Here is what I have learned and still work on every day. Don't try to keep up because you can't, just be yourself. I've been practicing meditation for 31 years and yoga 27 years. I have been blessed with awesome teachers, some famous and some not famous at all but just as awesome as the famous ones. The best gift they gave me was to constantly remind me and my fellow students that yoga is about losing the constructed self (ego little self i.e. hungry, tired, cranky self, look at me self, vs big self i.e. connection to something bigger). Boy does that seem to be lost. So much of the time when I turn on social media or open a magazine or see a yoga ad I just get so turned off I think to myself "Nah, I don't want to be part of that". The pressure is unbelievable to keep up. Here is what I would say to sustain yourself or what helps me: "Separate your personal yoga practice from the commercialism of yoga." Study what you're interested in not what you think is going to sell. Dress in a manner that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. And be mindful of self-promotion and what message it sends to other people. The only people who really care about your ability to teach are the people you serve through your work. And remember at the end of the day the person in the grocery store line, your kids, your spouse,the people who will likely come to your funeral don't give a rats patootie about your yoga pants or your headstand. Be mindful of where you put your energy for your own self preservation.