I have been teaching full time since 2005. Generally, I love it.
I mean compared to what I did before this, I count my blessings every day. Before this, I worked in various capacities as a secretary, administrative assistant, office manager and leasing agent. And my overall experience was that work made me miserable.
For two years I ended every day in tears. And woke every morning with a grudge toward the day.
Now, I teach. Now I have a flexible schedule. Now I do what I love and love what I do. Now I feel like what I am doing matters to more than my bank account. Now I care what I look like and don’t denigrate what I do for a living.
But teaching is hard work.
Don’t get me wrong, 99 percent of the time I love it and do it with joy and find it comes naturally.
These days I teach about 14 classes a week, some weeks a few more, some weeks maybe less. There have been times in my teaching career where I taught over 20 plus a week. No more.
But to survive on a yoga teacher’s pay and pay the bills requires much teaching.
Now I do a few things with the editorial and writing skills I have developed mainly through elephant journal but what I glean is little at this point. And I am picking up a part time job that begins this weekend in sales.
I am newly separated. I have debt. I have no health insurance and cannot afford what is being offered.
I do love teaching. I love my freedom. I love yoga. I love finding meaning in what I do. I love to share. I love being with people.
But the hardest thing for me about teaching is: (this is hard to say) being nice and more than nice, all the time.
As you can imagine, I don’t feel like I always succeed.
I have an edge. I am Pitta. I credit my dad for this. I am not soft. I am direct. I am not touchy-feely. I am Vata. I am quick but not airy in the spaced-out yoga teacher way.
I get to class early. I end on time. Always.
I teach alignment. But not like I used to teach alignment. I have softened. I don’t sweat the details and often wait till I know a student before giving them what I want to give them and sometimes I hold back a lot.
After all, if the student is feeling their body from the inside out and connecting with their heart and obviously not going to cause injury, maybe letting the details go and being encouraging is better than giving more direction.
And while I teach, I am feeling my mental, emotional and physical body.
Generally my mental body stays even, steady, not too crazy. Having a quiet mind is not hard for me but I also take a medication that ensures I have a quiet mind, and I know it makes a difference.
My emotional body is another story. This summer was the toughest I have had in… let’s say 20 years. I held it all together with a bit of grace, a lot of prayer and sheer determination. Most of the time I was raw and on edge.
Teaching saved me in most ways.
But I did not always feel nice.
And there are times I don’t even realize I am not in a good mood till I start teaching.
But I love to teach. Oh, I have times when I don’t like it, but I always love it. And once I am doing it I find my way in.
When teaching, I am on. My personal feelings don’t matter, in a certain way; in the way that my life takes a back seat. I am there to serve and provide. I am there to give.
And it can be hard. It can be hard to feel like I must always be a certain way that is different than my own fiery Pitta nature.
But I balance it. My passion for teaching leads me and my students feel it.
Nothing is perfect.
I remain grateful for my students and the opportunities to share what I love.
To me, yoga is how I engage myself and my life.
I teach from the heart always.
I teach what I know. I teach because I love it. I teach because I can.
I do my best and some days are better than others.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman