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A year and a half ago I wrote an article about becoming a yoga teacher at the age of 62. It resonated with so many yogis that I was blown away.
I was asked by some to write more, so I wrote about my accomplishments since becoming a yoga instructor. It was premised on the fact that if you have faith in yourself, the possibilities are endless.
But, I can’t rah, rah you into something you already know about life.
The thing is - there are more important and profound experiences we will encounter. Our certificate of completion as a yoga teacher is only the beginning. It is when we start to teach that we are catapulted into a reality that starts to blow our identity out of the water - big time.
Becoming a yoga teacher requires a lot of soul searching. I wasn’t prepared for that.
The truth is that most students need and want more from us than teaching poses, reading poems or talking about the Yamas and Niyamas. They deserve an educator who not only knows about the workings of their bodies but who too has suffered (yes, I said suffered) continual transformation and who can demonstrate that one can survive and thrive.
I recently attended a nine-day retreat/teacher training. I was so wired, I ended up having outrageous dreams and somehow felt a compulsive need every morning after breakfast to visit the cows, sheep, and horses on a neighboring farm - just to calm me down. I sat against and hugged motherly trees on the magical grounds so I wouldn’t cosmically float away. Though tough, the depth of the training was incredibly valuable.
It’s scary to be asked to dig deeper into one’s emotions and spirit. And what I’ve learned is that it is the yoga poses doing the asking, not the teacher. We come up with the sequences, instruct, hold the space, inspire and comfort.
But now, it's quite interesting. Because now I’ve become so aware of the intricacy of those endless possibilities.
My training opened another door. This time not to add to my certification hours as a teacher. But to the experience of the endless possibilities of my own spirituality. Whoa. And I’m a terrified to go there. At the same time, I’m exhilarated. Curious to see what else is in there to help me inspire and maybe help others to heal themselves. As practitioners, it’s like we are on a constant Louis and Clarke expedition into grace.
I’ve learned that our happiness, joy, and contentment flows from the learned awareness of who we are – all the good stuff and the bad stuff. We dance on the currents of gentleness and love. We get pissed off when warranted. We are defiant at times. It helps us succeed and can be our worst enemy leading us to fail.
Personally, I’m less judgmental than I was with myself and with others. I mess up – but have learned to give myself a break. All the ways I could be I’m not and yet I’m still finding out all the endless possibilities of who I could be. I’ve become a seeker.
And that is what I guess the Universe would like for all of us – to become seekers - every last one of our beautiful souls. To move beyond what we can physically touch into the realms surrounding amazing energy and light.
I expect at some point my students will find themselves seeking those endless possibilities for themselves. I strongly believe that we are here to help each other. That is why I became a teacher. And whether the practitioner originally started out to physically repair some aspect of themselves, they soon may find a dissatisfaction on that level. They may want and need to dig deeper. And how can they not with all the conversation promising transformation in the most astral of forms? So I say, bring it on – I’ll be there for anyone who needs support.
No matter where we are in our spiritual evolution, our job is to guide each other, to create a safe place for that exploration, and to help those who are closet cosmics to find themselves and discover the sweetness of life. Bravo to all who are or are thinking of becoming teachers and bravo to all those who naturally give and share their wisdom along the way. Because it’s not a formal training that produces endless possibilities. It is our essence, our soul, our heart.
Bettelynn McIlvain is a Yin yoga teacher in New Hope, PA. You can find more info at yogapoetic.com