What an interesting time to be alive. What an interesting experience being a yoga teacher with nobody to teach. Ah, but as a yoga teacher I am guessing that there is a lesson here and the lesson is on me. For the experienced teacher one might consider this as attending graduate school for yoga teachers.
The attributes of being a teacher of yoga that often escape us are humility, and non attachment.
I started teaching Yoga in my early 20’s. I had the innate ability to step into a yoga class and begin teaching with confidence, poetry and philosophical wisdom. That was impressive, however when I walked into my day to day life I was chaotic, emotional and unbalanced. With the guidance and direction of a dear friend and meditation teacher I spent many years meditating and going through difficult but soulful changes. This was in the late 1970’s when there were few instructors and I was teaching a lot of classes and had many students.
Through my life I have taught in Los Angeles, Hawaii, Ireland, and New York City. Wherever I lived I taught yoga. Because I choose to travel I had to give up established classes. Traveling and moving to a different country, starting over in new cities, leaving my students and familiar situations forced me to let go. The changes I experienced from leaving behind what gave a sense of purpose and pride were difficult because I received a lot of support, praise and appreciation from students.
Right now, I am writing this during the time of having to stay home. Being isolated from friends, family, and the daily activities that were part of your routine you looked forward to can turn into a an opportunity for reflection. For teachers, like myself we teach because we love to share our experience, helping others with what has helped us. Yoga instructors are lucky to have a platform where we can voice our thoughts, philosophies, and experiences. Without interaction with students many may be feeling a deep void. The identity of being a yoga teacher and finding great purpose in teaching, talking, and sharing on the stage of a class has abruptly been temporarily taken away.
There are deep philosophical teachings within the study of Yoga. In the classical book by Yogi Vivekananda, The Yogas and Other works, the portion on Hatha yoga is one paragraph. He states: “The result of hatha-yoga is simply to make men live long; health is the chief idea, the one goal of the hatha-yogi. He is determined not to fall sick, and he never does. He lives long. A hundred years is nothing to him, he is quite young and fresh when he is one hundred and fifty, without one hair turned grey. But that is all.” It ultimately is a means to a step on the path of ‘Yoga’ (Union of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul). Sincere teachers are sometimes required to move deeper onto this path. When either age or life circumstances force us to move away from the public arena and a physical focus, we see that we need to re-direct ourselves into the solitary reflective posture of Yoga. The attitude in which we approach this shift determines how well we pass this test and grow.
When the time comes when life returns back to the way it was, and we resume our classes and see our students, maybe we will be just a bit different and have something more to offer people who are perhaps seeking a deeper experience.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall…