The last few weeks, I’ve been preparing – like mad – for my final teach in a 200 hour teaching training program. Despite the usual demands of a very time consuming job and a large family, I’ve kept up with the work in the program fairly well. But, I have to say, coming down the home stretch is donkey-kicking my rear. I am, to be blunt, freaked out and really nervous. Other people in the program certainly get what I’m experiencing, as we are all together in this place. However, those friends and acquaintances who aren’t seem to be a little baffled about why it’s a big deal.
Recently, I’ve heard: “You are a teacher. How hard can it be to teach yoga?” “You do yoga every day. It can’t be that hard to just tell other people what to do.” “Aren’t you yoga people supposed to be really calm all the time?” hmmm I’m pretty sure the answers are: hard, yes it can, and supposed-to-be isn’t the same as are. It’s interesting how we assume that some level of expertise in an area means that all of the characteristics associated with that area will be firmly in one’s grasp all the time. Doctors should never be sick. Psychiatrists should never be depressed. Teachers should have children who get all As. Yogis should be supernaturally calm and composed every minute. It’s a lovely idea, but I don’t think it works that way and it’s an important message for both the yoga teacher and yoga students.
Doing yoga can help one achieve a greater state of equanimity and calm. That’s been one of the major benefits for me in my practice. And, as a teacher trainee, I also know the philosophical part of this. I know about aparigraha. I understand that I should let go of what I’m clinging to (whether that is desire or aversion) and not attach to the fruits of my actions. Yep, I got it. But, knowing something and being able to enact it all the time are two different things.
Yoga students and teachers are just people. They are regular people. And, when you think about it, the yamas and niyamas wouldn’t be necessary if these traits and habits weren’t pretty natural/normal/usual parts of our human animal-ness. Yoga teachers and students worry, get mad, have a beer, eat french fries, watch bad TV, read pulp fiction, and so on. So, if you are a yogi, don’t be too hard on yourself or your peers for being the human blessings that you are.