I’ve been thinking a lot these days about my recent journey into becoming a yoga teacher. It’s been an interesting one, to say the least and it has taken me into directions I would not have expected.
Like many others, my journey started in the yoga practice room, the safest place in the world where the teachers encouraged self-acceptance, calm and observation without reaction. For the overachieving ‘A’ personality that I am, this stuff was mind-blowing! I could screw up and still be a good person. Seriously, this was revolutionary to me. I wanted more of it and I wanted to be part of this wonderful movement, so I packed myself off to an intensive yoga teacher-training program. It was as wonderful as I thought it would be.
I truly appreciate the education and training I received in the foundational aspects of yoga, especially in meditation and the ethical guidelines of yamas and niyamas. While there is bound to be someone who disagrees with my broad definition of the yamas & niyamas, here’s the basics: Yamas are principles of non-violence, truth, no stealing or cheating, self-restraint, no envy, jealousy or unhealthy competitiveness and niyamas are principles of purity, contentment, discipline, study of the self & embracing the self. Basically, be a good person.
I came back from the teacher-training course a changed person: calm, accepting, non-violent and 95% all-loving. A hundred percent all-loving would have made me a saint and nobody beyond Mother Teresa has my vote for that one. I came back calm and happy – and then I walked back into the yoga studio and got slapped up the side of the head.
While before I was just another practitioner who soaked up the wisdom of the teachers, now I was one of the teachers and I found myself right in the middle of some wild and crazy personalities. Where was the wisdom? Where was the calm? OK, maybe this a bit of an exaggeration. There were definitely some of the calm, wise teachers floating around the space but at the same time there were quite a few people who seemed at odds with the whole yogic environment thing. Apparently they had slept through the yama, niyama, meditation part of their yoga training.
The insanity of the environment both shocked me and it welcomed me. It shocked me because my incessant naivete assumed that all the yoga teachers I had known before my training had already attained that all encompassing calm and acceptance through years of practice. It welcomed me because I had basically walked back into the let-it-all-hang-out atmosphere of the arts world. Who would have known that I had trained my whole life to exist in the world of yoga?
And yet things were different. Before my yoga teacher training, if I had come across one of these crazy and abrasive personalities, I would have verbally slapped them down and then stewed over the situation for a week or so. Now, in my mind I roll my eyes, I chuckle to myself and I walk away. No, that’s not totally true. Every now and then I have a mini meltdown over some yogic brick wall of a personality that is in front of me but that’s not the norm anymore. I guess that’s what is called growth.
You know? I really do love my life in the yoga world.