02 Apr Yoga musings of a young old teacher
As a yoga enthusiast I am drawn to the writings and theories of other teachers. Over the years I’ve followed the teaching of many yogis whose language seems to best represent the delight I find in my own personal practice. I listen, I practice, and then somehow magically it morphs into my own unique voice. The practice of yoga has personally healed and influenced my life as a mother, wife, and friend.
And I am a yoga teacher. A new old yoga teacher. I say old because I have been teaching for over 15 years. My classes have been defined as Vinyasa flow and I have taught the practice to hundreds of people from all levels of experiences either in a class or at a retreat. I say young because the information is still new to me. I am a student of the practice and imagine I always will be. Although asana (the poses) make up the large majority of my class I have a never ending interest in why the practice offers such a multitude of benefits.
When I started teaching sometimes people would to my class on a whim. They had heard of the growing “trend” in our community and wanted to check it out. I remember leading Savasana in one of my first classes and the result was mass exodus complete with avoidance of any eye contact as they rolled up the mat and tiptoed over other bodies. But sometimes they came back. And then they stayed for the final resting pose. And with each class I became a bit braver offering breath work, theory, and meaning behind the practice.
Over the years (quote credit to Oprah) there is one “What I know for sure” as a yoga teacher. I’m not enlightened and the benefits of the practice are gifts from yoga, not Amy Annis. People roll out their mat for many different reasons. Some need clarity for a big decision and want to reboot the brain. Others are looking for the internal stillness in a frantic culture. One client wanted to rehab a knee so he could walk through the woods with heavy hunting gear. I have watched yoga soften the edges and heal hearts. And some come to feel the burn. Certain yoga teachers may scoff at that last statement but it has always been my philosophy to share this practice with whomever comes to me for what ever brings them to the mat. It’s not my job to suggest what your practice means to you. It is yours alone. Most of the time even the person who only comes for the purpose of sculpting the body walks away with a genuine interest in the other components. They are struck by a discipline that makes them feel more aware and mindful than anything else. They are also young and old.
Last week a women from my class posted on Facebook that she was listening to my advice and seizing the day (vs. cleaning her house). She said that her teacher told her not to strive for perfection. I glanced through my notes with no recollection of ever saying those specific words in class. I hadn’t. She had walked away from her practice with a clarity and awareness of what she needed for the day. I’m quite convinced that those words were whispers from her own internal voice. She listened and lived her practice off the mat.
As a teacher, countless hours of learning the practice have gently defined me. As a student, your practice will metaphorically unfold as well. Come for whatever reason. Leave with a new one.