It sometimes feels that there are many expectations that go with being a yoga teacher or yoga therapist. There are the external expectations that we can put our feet behind our head (only if our hip sockets allow that range of movement) or that we spend our spare time hanging out upside down or chanting! There’s also the aesthetic expectation that we will be tattooed or dress colorfully. There’s the idea that yoga teachers have perfect lives…or at least we never get stressed, angry or upset as all obstacles gracefully float over our heads during our meditation.
Then there’s the hope that all yoga teachers understand bodies, and have undertaken to study anatomy & injuries. There is the idea that all yoga teachers maintain a regular yoga & meditation practice (you’d be horrified if you realized how many yoga teachers have no meditation practice but instead think it is all physical). That we never get injured or make mistakes, get physically frustrated or stressed.
Now not only are these expectations that may be held by our students but also by many yoga teachers of other teachers. The self-judgment… why do I still get upset when someone is mean to me? Should I not be able to ‘let it go’!? Why do I get frustrated with my bodies limitations when I know yoga is not about physical achievements but about a journey towards the self. Other yoga teachers never seem to suffer the same self doubt & human suffering..until you talk to them!!
Basically its simple. Yoga teachers are not enlightened beings.. yes even those that post instagram selfies in difficult physical postures! In fact in many ways they may be less far down their yoga journey than a yoga teacher juggling her part time work & family while she fits in her own practice before the kids get up & always puts effort into her yoga classes held in a local village hall. Yoga teachers are human, and many of us chose to teach yoga as it helped support us through difficult patches in our lives & we wish to share that opportunity with as many people as possible. We are not perfect beautiful tattooed ethereal beings who alight on this planet merely to teach our yoga students the secret of life before floating off again in an iridescent bubble of light!
As a yoga teacher I am on a journey of good times & bad! I get tired & I get stressed, my body has good days & bad days & my relationships go through rough patches. I get injured physically, psychologically and emotionally on my journey, just like any human being! Recently I unfortunately had a few weeks of high stress. This served to remind me of the importance of maintaining not only my own home practice but also attending yoga classes, getting body work (massages, healing, Rolfing) and time for me. I was reminded how easy it would be to accept the leaky eyes & tense shoulders rather than face my inner self in meditation, I was reminded that life seems to sneak in more reasons not to practice yoga on those weeks we really need it. I was reminded that I may not fit into many of the expectations of a yoga teacher but I am me & happy to be so. That my journey is to be the best possible version of me & not to worry about others’ expectations of what I should be.
So this blog is a simple reminder that the weeks when life sneaks in more excuses not to do your yoga & meditation are the weeks you need it.
That rushing to get to a yoga class is better than not getting there. That we need more maintenance than our home or car yet we often look after those better than we do our own bodies! I know people who only fill their car with good oil yet eat poor standards of food, I know people who spend £100s on cars or houses every month (living up to other’s expectations) yet say they can’t afford massages or yoga sessions. We need to prioritise ourselves to get the benefits of feeling happy, comfortable & well in our physical body & mind. So today make yourself a Spring resolution to spend the next 3 months establishing habits for a lifetime. Regular yoga, eating clean, getting outside more, making time to relax (that doesn’t include TV watching!) & establishing a meditation practice (5 minutes is better than no minutes!!). Habits that are less about what others expect you to be & more about how to be the best happiest healthiest version of yourself.