Am I a yoga teacher yet?
When do you become a teacher? Is it when you pass your 200 hours TT? Is it when you master pincha mayarasana? Perhaps it’s when you teach your first class, or when you get your first pay cheque. Perhaps it’s when a student tells you how much they enjoyed your class or when you develop a sizeable online following.
But what does it really mean to be a teacher? As an early-30s teacher with three years’ experience I undoubtedly have much to learn. I find myself sitting at the feet of my brilliant teachers, each with their own distinctive style and with much to offer their students, asking how my own offering could compare with these wonderful, experienced teachers. “I don’t know enough Sanskrit!” “I don’t know enough about the chakras or the energy body”. I can’t do a handstand away from the wall”. “Sometimes I just want to be on my own. I can be selfish!”
Last year when I was in Goa one of my teachers said, “I am your student, you are my teachers. You are my students, I am your teacher. We learn from one another”. I was reminded of an analogy given by Judith Hanson Lasater, that we are not creating something new from our yoga practice – I am not building a house from the foundations up – rather, like a sculptor, I am removing the excess material to reveal the sculpture underneath. It was always there, waiting to be discovered. We all have divine wisdom to share.
In this way we are all teachers. Each with our own unique way of understanding and contemplating the true nature of self, and with the ability to learn, interpret and share techniques and practices that will bring us closer to unearthing that hidden treasure within.
Teach what you know.
I am who I am today. When I’m 50 I will no doubt bring different teachings and experiences to my mat, to my students and to my life. But that is not to say that who I am and the teachings I have today are less valuable. They’re just different. And that’s ok. All of us are on our own paths, the twist and turns, highs and lows, over time, chip away piece by piece to reveal the sculpture underneath. Sometimes the sculpture is clear, other times it seems as though it is obscured. And for most of us this process is never complete. It’s a lifelong project.
As teachers we continue to learn from one another, and from our students with the aim of refining and enhancing the tools and skills we have to enable us to support our students on their own journeys.
So the lesson, I think, for myself and other new yoga teachers is to find joy in today, in this moment. Know that you are enough, you are exactly where you are supposed to be and you most certainly are a yoga teacher.