Yoga Teacher Reflection: Why I Teach Yoga

Last month we kicked off a new series Yoga Teacher Reflections, lessons I’ve learned from the front of the classroom“. For this installment I’d like to get real honest. Why do I teach yoga?

The last day of my 200 hr Teacher Training with Kathryn Budig and Gina Caputo my teachers asked us to get up in front of the room and explain why we wanted to teach yoga. I had absolutely no idea what to say. As I listened to my fellow trainees explain how they wanted to teach because of their love for the practice and their want to help people I sat and listened to them and felt completely blank. Although I love my yoga practice and I did truly want to help people, the only thing that came to mind in that very moment was my ego.

The truth was, I wanted to teach because I thought teaching was cool. Real good reason right? That is the same reason I wore ripped jeans and went tanning in high school. The two were so different, one superficial and one not, but I was taking my high school self and bringing the superficial into the latter.

I didn’t realize until I was posed the question, I had a longtime need to be heard and gain social acceptance, I realized in that moment that teaching yoga was my latest manifestation of trying to fill those needs. Once I realized that I was totally and completely embarrassed. I felt shallow and small and ashamed. I felt like I didn’t deserve to teach at all. I got through the exercise by telling my teachers and peers that I wanted to teach yoga because of my love for spirituality and self realization, which was true but felt like a lie at the time.

Months after teacher training, I was back home, I was my planning my wedding and I was keeping a good distance between me and my mat. I still couldn’t shake that feeling of failure. I felt like I failed at being a yoga teacher before I even began because well, I was selfish and only wanted to teach to boost my own ego. Can we talk about a pity party? Lucky for me I’ve read a lot of self help books and so, despite my feeling of failure I eventually got back on the horse, (okay the mat). I knew I truly did love my yoga practice but I didn’t quite know why.

After months of avoiding my practice I dove in head first. I began to furiously explore myself through my asana practice. I started to own the fact that indeed I did have wounds that needed healing and although teaching wasn’t going to heal those wounds, practicing would. I fell more in love with my practice than ever before and then without hesitation I began to teach. I found that what I really loved about the practice was what I actually got up in front of my teachers that day and said, self realization through movement. I actually wasn’t lying when I told them that, I just hadn’t realized that part of myself yet because I was too busy diving into my ego and self shaming. Yet, after time spent on my mat I now had the confidence to say it out loud and I now have the confidence to tell you this story that feels dark and scary but is nothing more than my truth.

Why do I love to teach? Because I see those same fears in my students. I see us all struggling with ourselves in one light or another but I truly believe that with our practice we lighten that struggle and begin to see ourselves in a deeper way. Through our practice we can confront those dark parts of ourselves, we can look at it and say, “okay I see you, but I am not you, I can move forward despite this feeling.” We begin to have more confidence in our truth which in turn give us strength on and off our mat.

Why do you practice yoga? Why do you teach? What is your self realization?

Happy practicing.