Sunday, July 21, 2013

As I prepare to teach my first yoga class...

"We teach best what we most need to learn."- Richard Bach

I am not the most flexible person in the world. I'm also not the most laid back. My body is neither attractive nor bendy enough to warrant taking yoga-pose selfies and I don't have a background in dance or Eastern Religion/Philosophy. And yet, I am about to embark on a brand new career as a yoga teacher.

I hesitate to call it a "career" because I'm certainly not doing it for the money or as part of some grand business plan. I have very few practical or logical reasons for becoming a yoga teacher and though I have never thought of myself as much of a risk taker, I have no question in my mind that I'm making the right choice.

That's not to say I'm not nervous. It's going to be quite a change from living at an office and in nightclubs, answering hundreds of emails a day and basically just doing what my clients tell me to do. I'm going to be much more self-directed. Much more exposed and vulnerable. Much less secure. 

Instead of just using my mind and my "mouth" which have always been the weapons in my professional arsenal, I'll also be utilizing my body- an entity that has spent 9+ hours a day in the same position for 9+ years. I've been hard on my body this past decade...Berated it, compared it to an unattainable standard of perfection, starved it, filled it alternately with caffeine and alcohol, and kept it confined in a windowless room for hours on end then claimed the one hour a day of yoga I was doing absolved me from all of my sins.

All along though, yoga has been right there with me. No matter what else I was doing, yoga was somewhere in my thoughts. Slowly but surely over six years of practice it moved from a beloved but small place in my mind to an overwhelming desire to learn and discover more that could no longer be ignored or suppressed. My priorities shifted from nighttime partying to early morning practice. The more I let yoga in, the more my bad habits, negative emotions, and self-defeating behavior patterns dissolved. My vacations were suddently being spent in yoga intensives and retreats instead of Miami and Las Vegas. My favorite websites, magazines, and books all had yoga or some tangential aspect of the yoga practice as their subject matter. I believe, and though my cardiologists may have another theory, that my heart even revolted against me for the continual denial of my yogic urge. 

I am a childlike and curious person, a passionate spiritual person, a lover of learning, and deeply committed to becoming a more fully evolved and thriving human being. The more I learn about yoga the more I realize I still have to learn and the more I wanted to know. Each book I read gives me a new list of books, authors, or topics to explore. I have never been so deeply immersed in or consistently inspired by anything else in my entire life (other than maybe my dog...). What else could I be doing with my life that is more important than chasing this desire to its logical conclusion? And yet MOST beautiful thing about the yogic path is that the conclusion never comes. Sure, one day you can become such a masterful asana practicioner that postures you once found daunting become a peace of cake, but there is always more work to be done. The only way to "complete" the path of the yogi is to become an enlightened being and though only a very small percentage of us ever reach that moment, I can't imagine a more worthwhile aspiration towards which to endeavor.

Tonight is the eve of my first ever yoga class as a teacher. I don't know yet what kind of a teacher I will be, but if I teach yoga the way I study it, I will do so with diligence, earnestness, compassion and a very humble heart. I will never stop learning more and will approach the practice with the reverence it deserves. I will never begin a class with a half-assed dharma talk or close it with an insincere "namaste." I might stumble over my words or mix up the order of my sequence, but my intention will never falter. I can't yet say if I'll be "successful" at teaching yoga but I am truly proud of myself for giving myself the opportunity to try. 

"If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it."
-Yogi Bhajan