What do you do? I usually don’t know how to respond to that, exactly. There’s the obvious, I teach yoga. But calling myself a yoga teacher never feels right. And I am able to train people to teach yoga effectively but I don’t really think of that as the sweet stuff that gets me up in the morning either. Frankly speaking, I think a monkey could learn how to teach Warrior 1, no offense to monkeys.
So what is my job and what do I do at my training that matters? There are gagillions of trainings all over the world so really why come here in particular? Here’s what I’ve come up with.
I think that many people are just coping. As adults our lives get so busy and we forget that we ALWAYS have more internal work to do. And then there are the people who are so traumatized that they have become impossible to be around because they are not really available. They spend their adult lives just coping because they are so damn lonely. And then there is the collective free floating anxiety that has never been explored or resolved and our yoga practice, our cocktails, our anti-depressants take the edge off just enough to make that feeling livable. Don’t get me wrong, coping is good and necessary but the way I think of it, it is the phase that happens before the healing. Coping is a holding pattern, like muscles that splint when they are torn. We need it to hold ourselves together but then at some point, if we want to really heal, we need to let the scar tissue dissolve and build strong healthy muscle. We need to mourn the trauma and do the deeper work that makes emotional agility possible.
The yoga practice, unlike the drink or the pill, clears the path. When taught well, a class has the potential to shine the light on what needs attention. And my particular skill set and training style allows me to tell people what I see and then give them tools and resources to heal. I am resolutely on the side of the part of the trainee that is screaming for healing, that part that got left behind along the way.
I am not attached to trainees becoming yoga teachers and in some of my trainings and private sessions, the yoga is just a small piece. What I do care about is igniting the spark that gives them the fuel and insight to begin to look at who they are how they are moving about the cabin. They do leave with the skills to teach and we all work really hard on making sure that happens. But for most, it’s the process of learning this skill and what it brings up that is the gem for both the students and for me. Participating in someone’s personal evolution is deeply moving and a huge honor. It’s life changing in either role.
I think that my place in the world of trainings is important, not in that I think that I am the best or that there aren’t other important trainings. What I know from my own experience is that dogma and fundamentalism do not lead to deep healing. They lead us into a deeper trance. And from my perspective, teacher trainings must help future teachers connect to their source, develop a personal practice and cultivate a connection to the Divine that resonates with them. We don’t necessarily need to be vegan, vegetarian, organic, thin, successful, happy, healed, whole, balanced, or have a Buddha head in our gardens to be a yogi. All we have to do to begin is practice yoga and notice the conversation that happens as a result. The practice of bringing in more breath can’t not work. And as you do yoga, what you need to do next will be revealed to you. (and news flash, that includes for some people, moving on from yoga.) All that other stuff is what worked for someone else at the time of their exploration. It’s valid too. It’s just not necessarily yours.
Living with questions is so much different than coping, which has the effect of blocking the questions and storing them in our cells. Once we open the door to the possibility of a deeper understanding of what the heck we are supposed to do with our lives, we are already healing. In my experience, that is the beginning of connecting to and feeling profound joy. The path becomes one of getting to the heart of things, a curious, deeply spiritual exploration. Part of my calling and my teaching, the way I see it today, is to facilitate that process through teaching people how to teach yoga. When I take the yoga out of my trainings what I would say is that my trainings are unique in that they demand that you stand up for yourself by becoming more of yourself. We all go together beyond the level of personality and stand up for the others in the room. In those moments, the trainees become healers and in those moments I know why my training is different. There is no ego, no feeling of being better or farther along, just a feeling of profound connectedness and belonging to all things. I still don’t know what my job title is. But I have a little more insight into the job.