”om namah shivaya gurave”
I recognize the teacher within (from the Shiva invocation chant)
Two weekends ago, my colleague Nicolai Boas and I kicked off our joined Yoga Teacher training in Copenhagen. We had so much fun, and I felt honored and deeply humbled by the level of commitment, dedication, and wisdom already among the participants.
On the first day, we discussed “What is Yoga, really?” as a group. You might have heard that “yoga” literally means “yoking”, which is commonly referred to as “an action to bring together” apparent opposites and unify – here in the context of yoga – mind and body, breath and movement, life and death, yin and yang, etc. yoga is not simply a postural or a meditation technique, it is a way of life that feels inclusive of and aligned to a deeper truth within.
With this in mind, and if we drop the posture-guiding part of yoga for a moment, how come one can teach “yoga” then?
Well, if yoga is a state of mind to begin with, it is a way to show up and live life. Teaching it then, we could say, is bring to others something we love and know from experience can enhance our lives and widen our horizons. Teaching yoga can include our commitment to “walk the talk” and lead (whether a group or our own life) with open-mindedness, authenticity, and any other value dear to our heart. To teach “yoga” perhaps is to inspire others to meet themselves with self-acceptance and to see beyond outdated limitations, because we are determined to do the same.
In other words, teaching “yoga” is not easy!
And yet, seen in this lens, teaching yoga is something we have done already hundreds of times throughout our life. If you reflect about it for a minute, how many times have you “taught” something close to your heart to your family, friends, colleagues, clients, and perhaps strangers? How often have you passed along your favorite way to, for example, cook eggs, organize a schedule, process your feelings, express your needs with your partner, or one of your passions with a loved one? And when you did, can you recognize how you literally “showed up” and openly shared parts of yourself that felt quite unique… and vulnerable?
This is what makes you both so special and, simultaneously, so human. Indeed, we are all already teachers of “yoga” at some level.
At the same time, as much as we teach, we also need to learn. For some of us it feels way easier (and more comfortable) to be in the teacher’s role than in the student’s (if you are giggling right now, well… welcome to the club!). If being the teacher is easier for you, two things to work on might be humility and letting go. Instead, if you’d rather put others’ voice first and learn from them than teach to them, a growing edge can be to grow confidence and the courage to step to the front line.
No matter how comfortable and which “teacher” we are, we all certainly still have a lot to learn… in order to become better teachers!
I love the saying: “we teach what we need to learn.” This is why in yoga, and other disciplines I am sure, the best teachers are still students. Because we are dropping the ideas that we need to be perfect or already know it all, we can stay humble and keep growing our unique “teaching” skill with vulnerability and openness. Buddhists call this openness “beginner’s mind”, and others say that “the only thing we know is that we do not know everything” (or anything if you can stretch it that far!).
In a nutshell: Learn. Share. Fail. Grow. Repeat.
“We are perfectly imperfect,” as another saying goes, and what a huge relief, ah! Accepting fully this not only brings a big relief, it is also one of the greatest qualities we can keep cultivating as teachers of life, or “teachers of yoga.”
So, dear one, nothing is missing. Please take a minute and acknowledge where in your world—however big of a scale it might be–you are already making a HUGE contribution.
Yes, H.U.G.E. It might not feel this way and perhaps you are not getting an award every day for it. But if it was not for you and because of you, I bet that many lives on this earth would look very different today, and certainly less rich and fulfilling.
Okay. Then you might think: “Uhm, I might drop this Yoga Teacher Training dream after all!” (lol)
Well, we cover a little more than this, obviously! Aha! We will most likely offer a new one in the late spring 2024. Let me know if you could be interested and I will keep you posted.
Meanwhile, if I don’t see you in class, a retreat, an event or in the street (which happens quite regularly 😊), take good care. As always, reach out should you have any questions, if I can support you, or if you’d like to give me a little update about your life. Always happy to hear from you.