My teacher seems to talk to me differently now that I’ve done TT with him. As just a regular student he was oh-so-careful not to bring any expectations to our conversations. I can appreciate why, even if sometimes it felt a little strained. So I was highly amused by his more genuine response to what I thought was a small but exciting bit of personal news — that I’m changing my office working hours to give me a mid-week afternoon to myself.
I was full of enthusiasm about having this space for yoga stuff. A solid stretch of hours at home to play around on the mat while I still have some day-time energy, time to explore teaching ideas, or for Sanskrit or yoga study, or for a writing project I’m hoping to start up. Yay!! But his response? “How are you going to fit your practice in during the rest of the week if you’re working longer hours on other days?” Oh! Now suddenly there’s an expectation that we share a value of a daily practice! I’d almost feel proud, if I didn’t know this has always been how my yoga is, a modest but regular practice whatever the weather.
Of course it’s a valid point, and I had thought about it and prepared some mitigations (I am a trained project manager after all!). Only the attempt will see if I can manage competing demands better through this pattern or not. But the thought stayed with me since the balance of personal practice with teaching practice (as well as other more earthly demands) has always been a major concern to me. And as coincidences often go, I found myself having a couple of conversations on this topic this week.
Another student at the studio asked me about TT before class one night. Her hesitation was entirely about the effect on her own practice. Would she end up knowing too much about yoga and shifting the practice from body up to head, when the reverse journey was her original motivation for coming to yoga. Would TT in fact deepen her practice or the opposite? All I could do was emphathise with the concern and tell her I’m figuring it out slowly… Yes, of course her yoga would change and not necessarily in the ways she might expect. And it needn’t be bad!
And one of my fellow graduates emailed me wanting to talk about how her relationship to yoga had changed. She was anxious, so we explored a little. It turns out ‘change’ was something of a euphemism for “I no longer practise or attend class”. Um, I really wasn’t sure what to offer here. My personal opinion is that she’s taken on too much teaching too quickly — and meditation as well as yoga asana. Wow! Several other graduates I know are also already teaching multiple asana classes a week. I don’t get it! How do they have the time and energy to do this on top of full-time jobs? Oh, well, actually I now see one answer at least — they are sacrificing their own practice. But doesn’t that rather undermine the point of teaching? Shouldn’t one teach what one knows, or is exploring, experientially? Anything else seems dishonest, a bit hollow.
I might of course be guilty of the opposite reaction, that I’m overly reluctant about committing to a teaching practice too formally yet. On a certain level I feel ready to begin to teach, but I’m questioning whether I feel ready to each every single week. And whatever the weather. I doubt I have sufficient reserves to meet students with enough care, energy and inspiration to feel I was doing the right thing for them each time. And certainly not multiple times per week. For me that would be a recipe for burnout and unhappiness and would kill my own practice. It could be a lot of fun, I’m sure, but I’d need to create yet more space for it to work well. And my modest yogic superpowers don’t yet encompass being able to stretch the space-time continuum!
So I’m feeling my way towards what I can offer right now. It’s got to be sustainable and it’s got to be a reflection of my own practice. Two rules to keep me honest! Beginner’s enthusiasm is great and I could easily get over-excited, but I’d like this to be a longer-term game. And that needs planning.