Yesterday I was really looking forward to meeting up with some of the other graduates from my recent yoga teacher training course. And we had a pretty nice time together catching up and looking forward. But actually I came home really depressed. So depressed that when Hubby asked me if I had a nice time, I burst into tears!
What was so bad?
Just one comment, one comment that really got to me. It was the reason someone gave for not taking up the opportunity my teacher offered us to teach a charity class at his studio. For me this feels like an amazing thing to do — to practice my teaching, yes, but also to give something back to the studio and the community. My only concern is to uphold the values of the studio sufficiently and do my teacher proud (or yogic equivalent thereof!).
But the comment from the person who rejected this offering: that she didn’t care about the people who would come to the class, so she didn’t want to do it; she would happily teach if it was us, the other graduates, but just a set of random people — no!
OK, she was speaking honestly and she was still really committed to us as a group. So that’s nice. But what about all the rest of what we learned? What’s the point of feeling togetherness as a group if you don’t do something with that support and reach beyond the closed circle? Otherwise it’s just a yogic love-in, some narcissistic band who reinforce each other’s values. It doesn’t achieve anything. What about our discussions of service, of īśvarapraṇidhāna, unity, community and all the rest?
Sure it can be difficult teaching people you don’t know, finding care and compassion for them and offering them all that you can. This is a difficult act of trust and love, but in some ways it’s much more rewarding than teaching other yogis who are secure in their own practice. When I’m teaching beginners or people who practise only sporadically I know beyond a doubt that I’m offering them something they cannot bring to the mat themselves. And this is the joy — seeing them unravel a little, seeing them enjoy making the physical shapes and hearing them reflect afterwards (if I’m lucky) about what they observed in themselves along the way. They are full of wonder and that’s such a delight.
I think of teaching as a yoga version of ‘paying it forward’. If I can offer them the space to have some experiences on the mat, I like to imagine how will they be in the rest of their day when they step off the mat. I always hope that the breathing space that yoga practice is might help them have a better quality of day somehow, and then they might too have something to offer the people they encounter along the way. Doesn’t have to be big. It might just be a smile or letting someone rush ahead of them in the supermarket queue. But it’s something.
For me, that’s the real sharing of yoga.
And today my spirits lifted a little as I got a beautiful invitation from the TT meditation teacher for a course he’s running to explore Oneness. The generosity of this restored balance to my experience of the world. And because I felt humbly limited in my understanding of his perceptions of Oneness, far deeper than my own, I was reminded that we’re all on our own unique journeys. And it’s not for me to judge anyone.
So I guess I should stop harping on about it and practise a bit more īśvarapraṇidhāna myself.