The Kind of Teacher i Want to Be

Words… as i wrote the title for this entry that’s been so long in the making, the word Kind was intentional, but not in the way it struck me when i re-read it.

The kind of teacher i want to be is – Kind.

The making of a yoga teacher takes all sorts of differing paths. For me, it started as a 200hr Hatha training over 18 months. During that training, the majority of the teachers were either Iyengar, or Iyengar-influenced. The practicality of Iyengar yoga appealed to me. I’m about as far from an esoteric yoga teacher as you can get. A friend calls me pragmatic. As much as i don’t want to be that person, i simply am… as is Iyengar yoga. Sensible and practical. And so, over the next 18 years, i climbed the proverbial Iyengar ladder. 6 levels of assessments. 4 trips to India. Training teachers. Assessing candidates. It’s a journey unlike anything else i’ve ever done.

The problem with pragmatism is it can be a blinders-on way of being that has the potential to take a serious detour into permissive discipline. The kind of discipline that, for me, began to erode the connection to my inner voice, my intuition.

The unmaking of a yoga teacher also takes on all sorts of differing paths. For me it started in savasana. I was visiting a well-known therapeutic Iyengar centre for a week of training when the unrelenting voice in my head during every savasana said: “i don’t want to do this anymore”, “i don’t want to be here”. I had already begun to unravel myself from assessing as i didn’t really believe in the process, but i was also in the middle of formulating a teacher training program for the studio i was teaching at at the time. The easier, safer, expected route would have been to shut down that inner voice and simply continue on. Even though i struggled for some time (still am, truth be told) i knew that i could no longer over-ride the whisper that was getting louder with each savasana. I would not do what was expected – by everyone inside of the Institute of Iyengar yoga and by everyone who had sacrificed A LOT (family, time, finances) in my ongoing pursuit of being an Iyengar yoga teacher: Get over it, and get on with it. Keep going – everyone has doubts.

The unravelling that had already begun took on a journey of its own…

A move to a different city with no Iyengar studio where i took classes of other yoga disciplines and met fabulous, sincere teachers who were adept and masterful in their craft, not because of a grading system, but because they chose to deeply study what called to them. I began to appreciate my training and use it in a different way as i could go to any class and if not feel at home, at least not feel lost. I took a trauma-informed teacher training that had me look deeply at my privilege. I went down breath, spine, functional-range and pain rabbit holes. While i could afford to, i saw a counsellor who Kindly helped to unlocked some doors that helped me immensely.

In savasana today i had a flashback of the last time i was in India. It was in the evening at the end of a hot and muggy pranayama class taught by Geeta. People were fidgety. I was as well, but i knew not to move. There were bugs, i know because i clandestinely opened my eyes and was blowing softly at them so as not to draw attention to myself. Geeta finally announced to stop fidgeting and someone (who obviously didn’t know any better) said there were bugs. We were told that since the fans were going that could not be – we simply weren’t disciplined enough to do savasana properly. I had that flashback, because i moved to sweep a bug off of me during savasana today. Eventually i opened my eyes and simply watched the clouds and birds drift by. Maybe, according to some, it wasn’t proper, but it was mine and it was delightful.

Fidgety savasan sped up 2.5X

The re-shaping of a yoga teacher is a continuous one. Truly an evolution for me – based on a new-found love for my practice. The physical part is more fun for me than it’s ever been. Mostly because i’ve given myself permission to let go of all of the ‘shoulds’ i’ve been taught. I’m not doing inversions at the moment. I do breath work, but no longer have a formal pranayama practice. I incorporate CARS and FRC into my physical practice. I show up and see what what happens. I read books/articles based more on science than on philosophy, and i listen to my inner voice – on and off the mat. Mostly, i give myself permission to fuck up, never mind not be perfect.

If you fidget in savasana. Or don’t know the proper sequence of things. If you skip a day (or 10). Give yourself a break. Be Kind to yourself -it does wonders. Find a teacher who knows their shit for sure. (One who knows their shit stinks too 😉 But most of all, find a teacher who is kind.

I want to be the Kind of teacher who makes your nervous system feel safe and leaves you wanting to do more – for yourself, not for me. It’s the Kind thing to do.

Love, sam