I am currently about halfway through a 250-hour yoga teacher-training program in Asheville, North Carolina. While I have practiced yoga fairly regularly for the last decade, it was only the past few years that I really felt called to deepen my practice and inspire others through yoga.
Every time I practice yoga, I come home to myself. I connect with my body, get out of my monkey mind, and remember to breathe! It is so easy to forget these simple practices, yet the more we integrate them, the more we have the ability to improve our daily experience. This is ultimately why I chose to become a certified teacher. I love the idea of being able to help people change their lives with a practice that has created so much transformation in my own.
The teacher-training program I am enrolled in is nine weekends spanning over seven months. I have enjoyed the gradual process of exploring aspects of yoga that rarely get covered in an hour-long drop-in class. It was only during the fourth weekend that we really delved into what it means to become a yoga teacher. One idea that the director of our training program kept going back to was that ‘we are all teachers.’ Whether we hold a piece of paper that states our training qualifications or not, ultimately we are all teachers.
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This idea is as simple as recognizing that how we show up in our daily lives teaches those around us. When you embark on a journey such as a teacher-training, you start to look at your life and wonder, am I really showing up with the compassion and grace that I would like to be? Choosing a profession such as a yoga teacher demands that we have balance in all areas of our life, because we become models for others. In many professions, it can be easy to keep work separate from personal life, but with yoga, our practice continues on and off the mat.
In our fourth training weekend we also discussed that although we are all teachers, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we automatically become qualified to guide all our class participants towards whole health. Respecting the ethics of yoga, we must be humble and direct our students to more qualified practitioners if they have any sort of physical or emotional ailment that we have not been trained to address.
It can be easy to tell people what they should do for healing when they come to us with a specific issue. Maybe we know someone with the same problem and a certain pose or diet healed them. But before we go giving out advice, it is important to remember that as trained yoga teachers, people may look up to us with certain beliefs that aren’t necessarily true.
A teacher holds a position of authority that can lead many people to believe they are also masters of wellness or spirituality. They may think that since we have devoted our career to yoga, we have mastered every asana and never have stray thoughts during our final savasana.
Yes, we are all teachers.
But with this knowing, we must remember our students have the ability to teach us as well. They can teach us to be humble, to be patient, and to learn more about the uniqueness of each individual.
Every person has within themselves their own teacher, a guidance system, a higher being, that is leading them to where they need to be. This may bring them into our class, but our job isn’t to ‘teach’ them our knowledge. Often times it is our job to simply remind them to trust their own guidance and intuition. We are here to bring them into their own practice and to get in touch with their own center, the unshakeable core we all harbor a deep connection to, yet so often lose touch with.
So we are always teachers and we are always students. And it is this remembering that allows us to remain in the awareness and connection to ourselves and to the aspect greater than ourselves that is ultimately within, leading us to where we need to be, to show up how we need to show up, and to inspire others with our own compassion and light.