Choosing to become a yoga instructor was an organic process. I wasn’t working 9-5 and looking for a way out. I was searching for a way in.
Yoga was introduced to me in college. I went to school for acting, which was allot like playschool for adults. I absolutely hated yoga in the beginning. I think because it wasn’t introduced to me in a metaphysical context but more of a physical experience for the body alone. At that time in my life I didn’t know how to slow down nor would I have wanted to. Yoga back then was just a place for me to silently practice running the lines for whatever play I was working on.
When I stepped into my first ever yoga class at an actual yoga center everything shifted at once. I could literally feel the ancient nature of the practice within the walls of the room. It was not only beautiful to the eye, with so many bodies in various elegant and even not so elegant postures, but it was uplifting to my spirit. There were teachings being expressed that explained the wild nature of being human and how the practice of yoga could help us to better understand ourselves. Finally I had a place where I could allow myself to see myself and honor whatever was showing up on any given day.
The vibration in the space felt clean, high and loving. For the first time in my life I felt comfortable and connected to my physical body. I didn’t feel competitive or as if I wasn’t good enough. Every class was elevating to my spirit and I always left with some insight or knowledge to come back to throughout the day. I felt a connection with the people around me – even without knowing them personally. The yoga studio was my safe space at a time where my world was anything less than chaotic.
My decision to become a teacher was based on the desire to share what worked for me with others. Yoga had become my way out of the chaos and my way in TO ME! If I was suffering and could pull myself out from the muck then others should know how to do it too. I simply wanted to provide the space, experience and tools for anyone to create e truly beautiful life. Plus I had acting experience so speaking in front of a room full of strangers was really no big deal.
I didn’t truly begin to understand the depths of the yogic traditions until my first Ayahuasca experience. This happened about four years into my teaching journey. While receiving one of the deepest healings of my life with this sacred plant medicine, I was shown Indian temples beyond my wildest imagination. I was met with Shiva dancing and spinning along with a multitude of other yogic figures. All I kept saying in my mind was, “Its real!” Sure I had chanted to Shiva and gotten into the vibe of it all. I understood that he was the God of destruction offering us the gift of non-attachment, trust and creation. But I didn’t actually get it. I don’t think allot of us do until we experience something like a near death experience, Ayuahasca or traveling to India (if it’s done right).
Yoga is part of an ancient science. The culture and traditions are beyond any western yogis idea of plank pose and arm balances. It shouldn’t be as uncommon as it is to acknowledge this as a teacher, but sadly it is. Being exposed to the richness of the yogis via plant medicines and my continual travels to India has certainly made my offerings in the west unique, but there are difficulties there too.
How deep people want go, I believe, is based on their ability to know how deep the “deep end” really is. If they know it’s only a foot deep then usually they will go about a foot. If they know it’s a twelve foot deep pool some people might still only go a foot but most will eventually make their way into the deep end.
The real culprit is in the economics of yoga businesses. Studios have either lost the heart and soul of the practice or decided to operate without that “stuff” from the very beginning. Studios are not offering a “deep end” to dive into! The classes are soulless offerings with no time for actual teachings. The teachers are forced to “trim the fat” of their practice and offer “really fun and creative sequencing to a rocking playlist”.
The trouble with this is that the yoga we teach in the west is not actually helping people to evolve their consciousness. We aren’t actually moving out of the lower realms and into the higher realms of self-realization. We are stuck in the lower root of our being. We are fixated on the material world, our bodies, our money and more often than not, sex.
Some will say, “ oh but any yoga is good yoga. As long as people are showing up then something is happening.” I used to think that way too. Then I met my teacher who showed me that just doing the bare minimum is actually keeping people in that “one foot of water” when there is the potential to explore so much more.
Is the yoga really working if the same guy that has a dedicated physical practice, goes home after each class only to feed his porn addiction night after night?
What if there were more space and encouragement to teach about the nature of sexual energy (kundalini Shakti), the power of it, and the way it can be harnessed and controlled for a deeper state of awakening? Instead, we forgo the teachings and the student who thinks he is evolving because he “does yoga” is still caught in the behavior that continues to damage his soul.
But we don’t acknowledge the soul any more here in the west. And it’s a wonder to all of you that Donald Trump is our president? Where yoga is a billion dollar industry, can the mirror be any more clear?
My advice to yoga teachers that would like to continue to brave the world of soulful yoga teaching is this.
Practice what you preach and want you want to preach.
If you are not able to chant OM in a studio then you should become OM. Practice OM-ing everyday in your personal sadhana and the vibration will be with you.
I convey allot of who I am and the yoga I practice in my walk alone. I have developed sincerity in my Sadhana and study the teachings daily. Even though I might not be able to share them at some of the studios I teach at, its just inside of me. Its kind of like when someone you know goes to a foreign country for a few months and when they come back they don’t even need to tell you the details because the vibration is just inside of them. That’s where you want to be in your practice.
The asanas, sequencing and your “rocking playlist” are actually secondary to the vibration you carry. Think about it. NO one is doing anything that much differently. Sure, sequencing can get “creative” and borderline insane or boring but it’s the vibration you carry that will truly set you apart.
Create opportunities that foster connection through a different platform.
Maybe it’s a blog post or a class that’s held out of your living room. The point is to find a time and place where you can truly express what you love about this practice and your own personal journey. This is an offering that allows you to truly connect with your students. Connection is half the battle of becoming a great ( and popular ) teacher!
Stop focusing so intently on social media.
What I have personally discovered is that it doesn’t matter as much as we think it does. Yes, some people will look to see how many followers you have and by that add some value to who you are as a teacher and/or human. But how messed up is that really? If you really need to look impressive to someone then buy a bunch of bots and call it day. If you really want to engage with people in a real way that is helpful, go back to the previous step and start getting people into your personal space because you are authentically connecting and helping them achieve something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Let things grow naturally.
I still use my social feeds but since returning from India this past winter I have pulled back a lot. And you know what? I feel incredible. Seriously, I feel so good!!! I’ve cut out all the feeds that would trigger competition or judgment. Social media so often reminds us of what we aren’t doing as apposed to what or who we truly are. Its all smoke and mirrors and we shouldn’t give it so much power or it becomes just that, overpowering!
Now, I spend less time floating around out there and more time creating my life. I’ve completely cleaned the sphere of energies around me and the translation is coming through, not only in my offerings, but in the way I feel about myself. I am much more confident and at peace. My personal practice is deepening into a whole new level and my students are coming with me.