When we first met, you were my sanctuary. You were the place where I was safe; where I was held and encouraged to grow and stretch. Somewhere along the way, you became my everything, and then you crushed my dreams and shattered my heart.
In the beginning, yoga teachers were my heroes. They had some kind of magic that was making me whole. I figured if it feels this good to be a yoga student, it must be so much better to be a teacher.
So, naturally, I signed up for yoga teacher training. And it was immediately clear that I was going to be good at teaching.
6 months after YTT graduation, I was hired at the studio that had become my home, where I mattered and where people knew me. One class lead to another and before I knew it I was teaching 15 classes a week, leading programs and teacher trainings. I was even a founding team member for one of the world’s best yoga festivals.
As the student, who I am was enough.
As the teacher, I suddenly had all this pressure to be liked, to fit the model and to serve up a hot dish of my own heart wrapped in the package of a highly physical asana practice. It started to wear me down.
As the student I heard: “Rotate your inner thigh to the sky. Awesome chaturanga Amy. Inflate your upper back. You are doing great.”
As the teacher I heard: “You are so aloof, connect more. Touch people. Go slower. Talk more about yourself. Yoga isn’t about the teacher. You give too much information. You should have a website. Give your students gifts. Get your numbers up. Don’t worry about numbers. Invite people back to your class. Thanks that was great. Be you, but not too you. Have an incredible sequence and a life changing play list. And finish on time. And make sure that everyone pays at the desk. And don’t leave the room smelly. And say good bye to all of your students. Oh and don’t eat meat or sugar or drugs. Drink green smoothies, but not too many. Send a newsletter. Have a blog. Get photos taken. Be a brand.”
Those few years where I worked my ass off, I made around just enough money to squeak by. It’s okay though because you make a lot of karma dollars when you teach yoga.
Yoga started to look like a road to nowhere that was paved in shit. What was once my sanctuary, was now a draining pile of disappointment.
So I put my yoga talents to the side and started putting a business together for myself. I wrote blogs about everything but yoga, because who needs another blog about yoga? Hasn’t it all been said?
But as much as I pulled away, yoga won’t leave me alone. I try to hide from it, and it keeps coming back to me.
Ok yoga, you sly little minx, what do you want from me?
Well, first step is re-establishing our love affair. I’m sorry I had forgotten how beautiful a practice you are. I’m sorry I got swept into your illusions and dramas.
Thank you for providing a perfect mirror for my own growth. Thank you for the incredible community, thank you for the opportunity to lead, and thank you for giving me something to care about so deeply.
I do love you, but shit you are a demanding lover.
By writing and publishing this blog, I’m calling myself forward to look at yoga with new eyes. Not as student or teacher or business owner, but as an active participant in humanity’s universal evolution.
I’m done complaining about the pay, or the mismatched weirdness of yoga as a product. I’m done debating about the value of one training over another, one posture over another, one studio over another.
I want a new conversations, so I’m asking new questions.
When I say “ok yoga, what are you doing for humanity? What impact are you making?” That’s when I start to get really excited.
If 30 people show up to my class, and they got sweaty and a little boost of serotonin, I failed. If 30 people show up to my class and they remember who they are and they know how to sustain that knowing as they go out into the world, then we are getting somewhere.
As I look at yoga through new eyes, new questions start to form. I invite you yogis to sit with these and marinate in them:
- Where do you see yoga in 100 years?
- If yoga is an intelligent and beautiful system that wasn’t invented, but rather uncovered… why has that system come to the west?
- And why is that system so popular amongst white affluent women?
- Why is it that yoga is so focused on physicality in the west?
- Instead of how is capitalism ruining yoga, what is yoga teaching capitalism?
- How do you feel when you teach or practice? Do you know how to feel that way all the time?
- What exactly are you teaching? And don’t say a pose… tell me how YOU are teaching something that only YOU can teach.
And the thing is, the questions I’m asking are not going to be answered by the Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita or even by the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. These questions aren’t meant to be answered. They are meant to alter what our priorities are.
There is a ripeness in yoga right now. It’s asking for a shift, as is humanity. Yoga is a tool that teaches me how to be me. If I just use that tool on my mat, I’m a mess. If I learn how to LIVE YOGA ALL THE TIME… Well isn’t that a fun idea.
In conclusion, yoga, you crazy love muffin. I’m on board, but as a revolutionary. I won’t maintain your status quo, I will push your edges, expand your possibilities and rock your world.
I love you and all is well,