Who IS the Yoga Teacher Anyway?
I have been teaching yoga for a long time and practicing with a teacher even longer. I am the next generation of wildly experienced yoga teachers, fully embodying all aspects of yogini, householder, avid student, entrepreneur, community leader, teacher and lover of of life! I find myself, as I greet many new-comers to yoga joyfully anticipating the possibility of experiencing the benefits that yoga promises wondering, “who is the yoga teacher anyway?” I wonder, do people really want to learn yoga or are they looking for yet another way to work OUT instead of working IN?
I offer this Peace from my humble perspective. Please understand, I was around when yoga wasn’t cool and people said things like, “you teach that yogurt” and other attempts at making light hearted conversation with ‘clever’ yoga humor.
I have been through people looking at me and gasping at the cost of yoga training, stating “I can go down the street to (insert local gym) and take yoga for only a few dollars a month!” They, having no idea the true cost of my PhD in yoga training or of my fellow yoga teachers, think we are fitness instructors with some weekend training.
In the United States of America, as the experienced yoga teacher I find myself pondering yet again, “who is the yoga teacher, anyway?” Would I walk into a music store asking to learn to play piano and then begin to tell the teacher “I only want to play chopsticks and furthermore, I only want to play what and how I want to play?” Would I ask this of a piano master? I am thinking no, this would not be the case, but maybe so…
Either Americans do not know what it means to be a student or they do not understand what yoga is and what it actually affords humankind. I am the eternal optimist, a believer in the people and I think we are looking at a mix of both. As yoga teachers, we are the Steve Jobs of the evolutionary development world. Yoga and Ayurveda are a technology, the training, practice and study of thriving, the science of the mind and truly evolving in the world we call “humanity”. We are here to teach people first and foremost what yoga actually is before anyone will be able to actually begin a true study of yoga. Most people don’t know what they really need from yoga and how could they, if they have no idea what it consists of?
Compounding the rampant misunderstanding of yoga and ayurveda, many yoga studios, feeling the very real pressure of needing to “just pay the bills” have transformed into glorified gyms. There are true yoga masters, yogis and yoginis I deeply respect that have found the need to drop into teaching people to work OUT more instead of teaching what is needed most in our world, to work IN. Let me explain why: Yoga and Ayurveda exist to transform current patterns of thought, breath, movement and consumption so when a potential student enters a studio, what they want and what they really NEED are generally not the same and even conflicting with their own best interest! And still, most want what they want…are they teachable?
Yoga consists of eight extremely important pillars and these are referred to as the 8 Limbs of Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga (not the brand). This Ashtanga Yoga (again, not the brand) is referred to as Raja Yoga or yoga for the kingly or royal life. These limbs of yoga are not meant to function alone but, as spokes on a wheel sustain smooth and effortless progression so yoga enables one to move smoothly through life. These Eight Limbs are as follows: ethical development with oneself, ethical relationship with others, physical training to take a seated posture, breath practice, sensory consumption reduction, ability to focus, meditation and absolute autonomy leading to present moment Self awareness. Ayurveda is the “what, why, where and when” and yoga is the “how” of thriving. The most effective yoga teachers will have training in both yoga and ayurveda. Yoga is a profession that offers people a chance at REALLY living the dream, the real and sustainable beautiful reality, but it comes with work.
This now brings me back full circle, “who is the yoga teacher, anyway?” Rasa Yoga is a true school of yoga, and we exist to teach yoga, not what the general population may think yoga consists of but yoga. As my teacher has said to me, “if you want it your way, go to Burger King!” We are here to teach what is needed, based on excellent yoga and Ayurvedic principles. Even if one has a Phd in kinesiology or has studied dance and all of the branded movement trainings still, its not yoga and I ask you, “who is the yoga teacher anyway?” Do you want to learn yoga or something else? If you want to learn yoga, I mean really learn and embody yoga, I am your guy so to speak, we are your guys. Yoga is suitable for everybody, as Yogarupa Rod Stryker has stated, “you can do yoga from a hospital bed.” Anything unlike this is not yoga, this does not make it wrong, simply put there is yoga and then there are other disciplines.
In closing, I realize I may not win any popularity contests with readers, but honestly, if you are my student, I would rather the discomfort of pressing limits now so that you may love yourself more later. Truly, it is only that, to know your value and love yourself more, true gratitude for this beautiful life that you have been blessed and thriving in a way that we all learn the true meaning of life together. I love you….