A few weeks ago, I went to one of my favorite Bikram yoga teacher's class and she said, "Wow, its great to see you! I haven't seen you in a while."
I replied, "I know, I have been traveling a lot and busy filming for my new channel but I had some cancellations which opened up a lot of time on my schedule so I am back in classes for a few weeks."
She laughed, "So, that's how it happens for you." (She is very sassy, smart and without one bone of BS in her body which is why she is one of my favorite people to learn from.)
I laughed back, "Yep, pretty much. You know, in the 12-step communities they have this promise that at a certain point in your recovery you will suddenly realize that God is doing for you what you could not do for yourself. In my case, I seem to get cancellations when I really need a break. "
And it is true.
Of course that doesn't mean that I am always financially prepared for the "break that God gives me" and so on, but in general, when I am honest with myself, I can see how my best interests are often being served when my plans are rearranged by outside forces. Anyway, I had actually planned some time off this summer to come to Colorado and coupled with my "God-given break in April", I am actually feeling a sense of clarity return to my inner life, which is mostly wonderful. (From the higher perspectives, clarity is always wonderful and I am always willing to work with it, but let's face it, clarity often comes with demands for action, calls for surrender and moments of wishing that Pandora's box hadn't been opened and that a return to ignorance was possible. And so on.)
Part of the clarity coming my way has been a very soft, little voice arising from within about what I want to do as a yoga teacher. I am not talking about the forms of the external expression so much as I am talking about my own values clarification and inner orientation. Over the last few months of having a little more personal time than usual, I began to notice stark contrast between the joy I feel when I teach and work with my students and the fatigue I feel watching the comings and goings of our industry's dramas and our endless commentaries and criticisms about it all. I think the work of applying critical thinking skills to yoga and to our marketplace is important and I do not want important voices of critique silenced. Sometimes things need to be said and we need people to say them. I have been that voice before. I will certainly play that role again. Mostly, I am sharing about how I want to participate in the process of being a community member and teacher right now.
Right now, the work I want to do boils down to education and inspiration. I do not want to convince, coerce, convert, criticize, criminalize, (now I am on an alliteration roll just for fun!) or create controversy in my work. (Whew, I did it-- all c's!)
And to top it all off, I have recently realized that I really do not care how people practice yoga anymore. I am not even sure I care if they practice. And I used to care about how people practiced and if they practiced. I used to care a lot.
Obviously, I have my opinions about all kinds of issues related to yoga and practice, but I am even tired of my own commentary on the subject these days. I suppose that is what I meant when I said I don't care. Seems to me, people are going to do pretty much they want to do most of the time and me caring too much about their choices has become more-than-a-little tiring. Perhaps I am growing up. Or maybe I am burnt out. (A case could probably be made either way!)
I am not without caring altogether, mind you. I care very deeply that if someone is in my sphere of influence, and calls me a teacher-even peripherally- that I do what I can do to educate them as to why I am teaching what I am teaching and that I do what I can do to inspire them to find an authentic relationship to their practice that will sustain and support them over time. I care very deeply about doing a good job and about helping the people who have asked me for help.
And these days, for me it is not so important what practice someone does as much as that their relationship to said practice is nourishing, nurturing and responsive to their growth as a human being. If something I share helps an Ashtanga vinyasa practitioner stay the course- great. If some insight I offer helps an Iyengar yogi go deeper in their studies- that is wonderful. If something I share from a yoga text helps a Christian love Jesus more than I figure I have done my job. And so on.
Obviously, I have courses and trainings galore for people to do and all that work pays my bills and so on, but the spirit of my teaching work is not to corral people to "The Way", "My Way" or even to "A Way" as much as it is to support people in landing where it is right for them and to give voice to the very real experience for many of us that what is right for us changes as we grow and change.
To be continued.
Have a great day.
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"There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heaven, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart."