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Teaching becomes the Teacher

Five years ago when I ventured down the path of yoga teacher training, it hadn’t occurred to me that teaching yoga would entail standing and speaking in front of groups of people.  I simply enjoyed practicing yoga, reading about the philosophy and after having two sweet girls, I was looking to step away from an engineering career so that I could spend more time at home.  As I began teacher training, the public speaking part hit me.  It was an ‘Oh shit’ moment.  “What in the world was I thinking?!”

Almost four years into teaching yoga, and teaching itself has been one of many great teachers I have come across to this day.  Teaching yoga makes me face my own insecurities and vulnerabilities every time I get up in front of a class.   It gives me the forum to stand in front of a group of students when I feel comfortable and have a plan.  It presses me to stay the course, when the plans fall apart and I need to attend to the unexpected.  Especially in those moments, I know what courage really is, as trivial as it sounds.  To feel exposed and to hold space for students, both the ones that leave happy and the ones who leave frustrated.  It brings me face to face with all that self-talk and doubt, wondering “do I really have something to offer?”.  It has taught me to build focus and concentration even with the internal chatter that sometimes surfaces.  “Did she not hear me or is she choosing to do navasana while I have everyone else in warrior 1 because she hates me?” 🙂

Doubt, or this self-talk as I’ve described it, is one of the five hindrances mentioned in Buddhism.  It is the kind of self-talk that makes assumed conclusions without sincere investigation.  It is self-talk that stems from a place of insecurity and ego, in the sense that you project things onto yourself when they are really not your things to carry at all.  It undermines one’s faith and sense of (humble) self-confidence.  Doubt colors our own self-image in a way that can feel paralyzing.

Four years into teaching, I have learned to watch the inner workings of vulnerability and doubt, and how they play out.  I have learned to take it more lightly and to even laugh.   I have learned that I love teaching yoga.  It makes me feel alive.  It helps me to feel fulfilled at this point in life.

And yes, I do believe I have something to offer and so I stay the course.  Even more so, I love that teaching has become a part of my practice.  It has helped me to do the hard work of embracing both the light and the shadow sides that sometimes go unnoticed or ignored.  I am grateful to be teaching and to have a community of students that help me in more ways than they realize.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow! I love this post! This is so wonderfully written and I can completely relate. I very much needed to read this today. Thank you Sheila!

    February 14, 2013
    • Thank you Jen, It’s good to know that the experience is one that is pretty universal xo

      February 14, 2013
  2. It’s so TRUE! Teaching really is such a good teacher. With the help of my students, I’ve been able to see the places I need to grow and when I’m ready and brave enough to go there, the reward of reaching to the new level is so gratifying. Not only do I come to know my practice in a deeper way, but my students do, too. Thanks for the post!

    February 14, 2013

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