The Real Reasons To Revere Your Yoga Teacher.
A student said to me recently, “We need to remember that you’re human, despite the fact that all of us think of you as superhuman.”
This gave me pause to consider the role that Yoga teachers often unwittingly take on when they embark on the path of sharing their love and gift of Yoga with others.
When you become a teacher, people inevitably project on to you the additional role of therapist, confidant, master, expert and/or person with all of their shit together… the list goes on.
And yet, when I consider my own journey into Yoga, and look around at the various beautiful teachers I’ve come to know, I recognize an interesting truth: Those Yoga teachers who are truly committed to their practice and the sharing of Yoga as a way of being in the world, rather than simply poses on a mat, have all invariably been damaged or broken in some way or another.
I daresay it’s the brokenness that drew them to Yoga, or more likely Yoga to them, in the first place.
Personally, I don’t know where I’d be without Yoga. Yoga has saved me. Yoga continues to save me each and every day: from myself, my thoughts, my feelings, my fears and my stories.
It saves me from the world around me, and the situations and relationships which I continue to allow to challenge, trigger, frighten and hurt me.
Yoga provides me with a continual practice of letting go of what’s false, while opening up to what’s real, the here and now, awakening to my true self.
Yoga creates space for me to breathe. It gets me out of my head and into my body, into my heart. Yoga allows me to soften into my strength. It provides me with a safe space to be, rather than do.
It is this understanding — the powerful gifts that I received (and continue to receive) from my Yoga practice — that led me to become a teacher.
Seeing how Yoga transformed, and continues to transform, my life, awakened in me the need to share this gift with others. How could I possibly keep this healing gift to myself? I feel I really have no choice but to share it.
Living and sharing Yoga is my dharma, my life purpose.
It has been through my life challenges, my struggles and my brokenness that my Yoga practice, my life practice, has truly been able to strengthen — all of the circumstances in my life have allowed me the opportunity to grow and to give.
And so, as you come to the mat and build your own practice, finding teachers whose experiences resonate with yours along your journey, recognize that Yoga teachers have more often than not been broken.
They have experienced situations which have made them vulnerable.
Yoga teachers, you will often find, feel things deeply for others, yet may not always know how to feel so deeply for themselves (although, they’re trying like mad to learn — this is Yoga, coming to understand connection).
Having gone through pain and suffering, Yoga teachers want so badly to help others feel and live better — to ease the pain and suffering of everyone they meet.
Because they know how hard and messy life can be, and they have felt the direct healing that Yoga can provide.
Yoga teachers often take on a heavy load as they seek to help. They are a work in progress… as we all are.
So, please rather than putting your Yoga teacher on a pedestal as someone who’s got it all together, someone above you or better than you, choose to revere your teacher for having the courage to feel for you deeply enough that they allow themselves to humbly share with you the gifts they’ve received through their own journey.
Revere him for being just like you: strong, soft, vulnerable, admirable, respectable, lovable and human, oh-so-human.
Revere her for coming to her mat every day to acknowledge her strengths and in turn, her weaknesses; her ego and in turn, her humility; his knowledge and in turn, his ignorance.
And as you acknowledge and admire your teacher, be sure to take time to most importantly honor and admire yourself, recognizing that You are your own best teacher.
Cat O’Connor is a lover of the written word, inspired thinking, speaking and sharing, Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons, and Yoga… oh yes, Yoga. Look for her in used books stores or out-of-the-way coffee shops, on solo or family adventures, and when in doubt, on her Yoga mat. For Cat, writing isn’t an option. It’s therapy. It’s sanity. It’s purpose. She truly and humbly hopes that what she shares here stirs something in your mind, heart and, wouldn’t it be magic if it stirred just a little something in your soul? You can find Cat on Instagram.