The idea of becoming a yoga teacher came up slow like the tide.
As I got deeper into my practice I became curious about the best way to protect my knees and hips (two weak areas in my body), so I enrolled in a yoga anatomy course.
After a particularly vigorous Ashtanga Vinyasa class, I started thinking about sequences and I wanted to know the philosophy behind each pose. And so it went: in my thirst to learn everything, I began attending course after course.
My search for a deeper understanding was both a blessing and a curse. It seemed as though every class I took brought me closer yet father away from feeling like I actually “knew” anything.
It felt like the deeper I got, the more mysterious everything seemed.
When Opportunity Knocks…Close the Door?
When my yoga teacher approached me to work in his studio, I saw the opportunity as a heavy responsibility. I told him I would have to think about it. I felt like I needed to take more courses, to read more books, to have more hours of observed teacher training.
I immediately began to compare myself to all of the great teachers that I’ve had in my life and I listed all the ways in which I fell short.
I had placed my idea of a yoga teacher up so high on a pedestal that I couldn’t even begin to reach for it.
My fears began to attack me, tormenting me with questions ranging from the profound to the absolutely inane: How can you teach about a body/spirit union when I am struggling on the same path? What if people get hurt in my classroom? What if no one shows up? What kind of music should I play?
I was being offered a chance to teach something that I love in a beautiful yoga studio with two other teachers who I admire and respect, and yet, I could only think of all the things I didn’t know.
Taking the Plunge
Before my first class my stomach was tight and my mouth was dry as cotton. I was so nervous that I mixed up my lefts and my rights, I left the door bell connected so it rang at a crucial moment of relaxation and my MP3 player died.
To my surprise, my student’s reactions weren’t of indignation. They didn’t think I was some false yogi pretending to be something I was not. Instead we all laughed because they were things that could have happened to any of us. They didn’t expect perfection from me and when we all started moving, all of the things I didn’t know washed away and I was left with all the things I did know.
I have taught many classes since that first day and every one of them has been different and challenging for their own reasons. My students constantly teach me how to be a better guide and their kindness and acceptance of my foibles have led me to be kinder and more accepting of myself.
Am I Perfect Yet?
I want to tell you that after battling my demons I cured myself of these insecurities forever but this would be a lie. I still struggle and wage war with fears about my abilities as a teacher. I am still not an expert but I am coming to terms with the impossible standards I set for myself.
On good days, I am in awe of how little I know and this fact keeps me searching for ways to deepen my connection to my own practice.
On bad days, my mouth gets dry and I worry that no one will show up to class. In these moments, I try to use my over active intellect to my advantage. In place of those fears that used to roll around in my head like stones polishing themselves to a shine, I repeat a little list ofThings to Remember. I repeat them over and over, like little mantras that keep me running towards my classroom—not away from it.
Things to Remember:
1. No one is perfect. No one expects you to be perfect either.
2. Teaching yoga is gift—don’t run away from it.
3. Low class attendance as a blessing! Hone your skills as a teacher.
4. Practice, practice, practice!
Author: Andrea Chong-Bras
Editor: Renée Picard