The Curse of the Yoga Teacher
Being a yoga teacher is the most rewarding ‘job’ that I could ever imagine for myself and it comes with so many incredible benefits. But there is also a big responsibility that comes with it. People meet you and they expect that you have got your shit together. You are at peace with the universe; a free loving hippie who loves adventure, has removed all negative traits and was put on this earth to spread love and peace. Men think you would be the perfect partner because you are so relaxed, strong and independent. At the beginning it is even really mysterious that you don’t drink or smoke or that you are vegan (and not to mention the fact that they assume you can bend your body into a pretzel). It sounds really exotic and wonderful to be a yoga teacher – I see it in people’s eyes when they find out what I do. Woah, you teach yoga, how cool.
So imagine their disappointment when they find out that I am a human just like the rest of the people they meet. I still have fears and doubts. I still lose my temper and make mistakes. I still get emotional and god forbid, cry. I still have moments where I feel insecure. There are still parts of my body that I am still learning to love unconditionally. I still like to be told that I am beautiful and I still dislike being told that I am fat. I still have bad days where I feel crappy for no particular reason. Yes, I am still a human being with feelings and emotions.
But, it is true that us yogis are not like the others. But not because we are less complicated than the others. We are even more complicated than the others. Because not only do we still have all of the same thoughts and feelings that the rest of the population does, but we are super conscious of it. We feel sad and we are acutely aware that we are sad. We feel it deeply and we don’t try to run from it and distract ourselves to forget about it. We can’t smile and pretend everything is fantastic when everything is not. We sit and we feel it. Yep, sometimes we also cry if that is what comes up in that moment. But we just allow it to be there, and then we move on.
We get angry and we observe it, we see where it came from and how we can stop it from happening again (even though let’s be honest - it probably will happen again). We are trained to observe our thoughts. We are trained to observe the reaction in our bodies. We are trained to notice the subtle changes. So even if something only triggers a small reaction in our mind – we notice it. Maybe this makes us even more emotional than others?
The hard part is that we really care. We care about why these feelings or emotions are coming up in that particular moment. What inside of ourselves is being triggered by this situation? This contemplation is meant to be in a non-harming, no-judgemental way. Not wishing we were different or beating ourselves up that we reacted that way – but instead just observing.
But this is the part I find the hardest: not judging myself when I ‘slip up’. Like when I lose my temper or speak without compassion or judge someone unfairly or feel insecure or struggle to love myself. I instantly feel like a failure, like a fraud. How can I teach my students to do all of these things when I haven’t even mastered it myself? Have I grown as a person at all? It’s scary to think that you can still be plagued by past behaviours that you thought you had rid yourself of.
But a friend gave me some great advice today. He told me that by being aware of the dark areas in my life I have the opportunity to shed light on them and grow. Then he reminded me that I am still human. It helped me to see that the biggest challenge for me to conquer isn’t only to stop undesirable behaviours – but it is learning to love myself even with my imperfections. Maybe I do still have a long way to go, but I am willing to try every single day to be the kind, compassionate, calm, happy, loving person that I know I can be. The kind of person that I know we can all be.