Seriously folks, I L-O-V-E teaching Yoga. It is the only “job” I ever had that I can say those words about (and I’ve been working for nearly 40 years). Yikes
When I teach, I get to encourage and support others. I get to inspire and even change my students’ day for the better. It is a true honor and a privilege, and I take teaching Yoga very seriously. It is the best feeling, and I could teach for hours on end and not get tired. I would even teach for free, if I did not have bills to pay. I love to give positive feedback and provide gentle assists which have the ability to transmit warmth and love. I like to use my voice to soothe my students, simply because most of us live a daily grind that wears our spirits down. Besides, who wants a drill sergeant for a Yoga Teacher? I want to nourish, motivate, and cheer my students on. I want to be the best role model for them – a model of unconditional love.
My goal as a teacher is to offer everything I have to my students – and when I can do that, it’s a win-win situation. I give my all and I receive so much in return. When I leave the studio I know in my heart, I’ve done an outstanding job. And that gives me such a high.
However, there are times when things are “off.” For example, I may feel like there is a negative or weird vibe in the room. And on those occasions, no matter what I do or what I say -I feel like Public Enemy No. 1 – it’s an uphill battle all the way, and ultimately I lose – it breaks my spirit. I feel like a loser. I leave class feeling down. But I have to remind myself to not take anything personally.
Last night I taught a class in which my spirit was broken. I felt like no matter what I did or said – I failed miserably. I felt like the students hated me! To fill you in on the details: I recently changed my teaching schedule and picked up a new class (which had been previously taught by a friend of mine). In other words, I was the replacement teacher last night – the substitute. I don’t know how much of a following this other teacher had but the room was full of people who seemed to be opposed to me from the get-go. Now I know, it is very common for a student to have a favorite Yoga teacher, and I know we go to class specifically to study with a particular teacher – or to get a very specific experience. I get it. I totally understand this concept, because I do it all the time. So it is quite possible that last night’s students were disappointed that their former teacher was no longer teaching. I really don’t know what it was, but whatever they were thinking, it didn’t feel good to be on the receiving end. What I know is that in the other classes I teach, I am showered with praise from students – I have a devoted following – so the juxtaposition was palpable last night. I felt like I was on my own and no one was willing to give me a chance.
So it came as a total shock after the class – to see people smiling at me and thanking me, and telling me how they would definitely come back to my class! I was so surprised. And it made me wonder where all those positive / good feelings were just a few minutes ago.
It is a very delicate thing – this teaching experience. Not only are you tending to a student’s physical body, but you are tending to their mind and spirit. As a teacher, you have the responsibility to treat everyone with the utmost respect. But in return, I think it is only human to expect the same in return. On those occasions where I feel “unloved” it makes me feel disrespected. But in truth, I know in my heart that whatever comes up for a student during class, most likely has very little to do with ME.
Everyone of us is going through something in life – dealing with something – struggling in one way or the other. None of us have perfect lives or perfect relationships or perfect jobs. So it is natural and human that as we open up during our Yoga practice, things that live inside us come to the fore. There is no place to hide. What lies within us, comes out. That is the beauty of Yoga, and that is also what can make a Yoga so challenging.
No matter what, I wouldn’t trade being a Yoga Teacher for anything. It is the best way I know how to spend my time, and I treasure this work with all my heart. It is my continued hope that I can be a positive light in a student’s life.
We are all seeking freedom.