A few years ago I was at one of my husband’s poetry events at a cafe, the event was pretty crowded and since I was sitting by myself I offered the empty chair next to me to a man I saw standing nearby. We struck up a conversation. Have you been here before? Are you a poet too? What do you do? I told him I was a yoga instructor and he mentioned that he had taken a few classes years ago. All was well until the waitress brought the tiramisu I ordered before he sat down.
This was not the first or last time someone would tell me I was un-yogic. Other instances include:
- Asking to be paid for the classes I teach
- Drinking wine
- Playing hip-hop in class
- Playing music period in class
- Not being vegan
Bonus: I curse too. Never been called out on it by the yoga police (yet) but just figured I’d share!
I can keep going but I’m sure you get my point. Almost all of these offending behaviors were pointed out by perfect strangers (well except for the getting paid one but that is another story). This also happens in the virtual world where people are even more bold! Just recently I had the pleasure of interacting with a charming young woman on Facebook – let’s call her Ruby.
Apparently one of my post appeared on Ruby’s feed and she did not like what she saw.
She never said what the offensive post was only that she had been trying to “un-like”me and that I needed to do something about that. I responded that I am not responsible for what appears on her feed and there was nothing I could do (I did not post anything directly to her page and we don’t have any mutual connections) and because I’m a smart ass I ended it with “Namaste boo”. Of course Ruby pulled out my favorite response for this occasion: “You call yourself a yoga teacher?”
How on earth can I be a yoga teacher and not tolerate total strangers coming to my page demanding that I provide technical support by removing content from their feed?
Part of yoga is finding your truth and trusting your own voice. Finding my voice as a teacher meant letting go of what I think a yoga teacher is “supposed” to be. For me that means making sure the person leading the class is the same person that you run into at the grocery store. I don’t whisper in my normal conversations, so I do not whisper when I teach (no breathy “innnhaaale now exhhaaale” either). If you get in my car you won’t hear chanting or sitar music (well maybe once and a while), so I don’t really play that in my classes. I refuse to feel like I’m leading a double life.
This is authenticity. I bring it into each of my classes and encourage everyone around me to step into their own authenticity as well.
We tend to get wrapped up in this idea that anyone who does yoga is some mythical creature who walks the earth sipping their kombucha, greeting everyone with a bow and a whispered namaste. Anything outside of this is often looked at as “un-yogic” and in all honesty we should probably knock it off.
I am compassionate yet sarcastic, nurturing yet firm and humble yet not afraid to let my voice be heard.
P.S. Tiramisu is delicious.