One major reason the yoga teacher training business model is set up for success, in my opinion, is due to an increasing number of professionals seeking a lifestyle that is free of stress and anxiety. As stated by Jessica Rosen, owner of my home studio One Down Dog, in an interview by Well and Good said, “there’s a gravitational pull toward that kind of deep transformation” with signing up for teacher training. I know I was one of those people seeking some sort of personal and professional transformation. Even though the tainted perception of what a yoga teacher’s lifestyle looks like is very well highlighted in some really raw and open blogs posts, but the following is my perspective.
Last week was the first week where I taught more classes than I ever had. Paired with a lot of work for the yoga and meditation pilot project I am working on, which is in fact a project passion that I am not being paid for, it was a “stressful week”. Although I don’t tend to complain in terms of the number of hours I work, teaching yoga is not a financially fulfilling career. It is also not an easy one. It requires a lot of planning, maneuvering, guiding and energy transfer. But, I’ve learned to accept that this work is one that I feel passionate about. Both time and money are valuable resources. One usually makes sacrifices by choosing one or the other. Unfortunately, most people are unable to have both. If one has time, likely they have less money (and vice versa). It is also not to say that being a yoga instructor can not be lucrative. This is possible. But, most of us are not in it for the money. Conclusively, money was not the main stressor of the anxiety I went through during the past ten days. In fact, maybe it is, but I really do not think so. But, the truth was that something was? That something for most of us is usually undetected and we are unable to really pinpoint it until a later time or perhaps never. Whatever it was, I decided that seeking answers for its cause was not the right way forward. The constant search was not going to blossom into anything positive.
Anxiety is all too common of a denominator in human beings. Well, guess what? Your yoga teacher is also human. The feeling of worry, nervousness, and unease about something with an uncertain outcome plagues us all. It is how we end up dealing with said symptoms that eventually help us in our interactions with others, but most importantly, our intimate relationship with our own mind. If the mind is free of worry and unease, the human, in turn is happier.
The past ten days, a very familiar feeling of anxiousness that I dealt with for a good year draped over my mind. Everything that was work and life related was sprinkled with a dose of negativity and fear. Of course, of all weeks, this was the one that I had committed to teach, accept new clients and sub for some of my colleagues classes. I was meant to be around groups of students, who whatever their reason, had committed 60-90 minutes to their yoga practice. I had to make sure I guided them with a substantive practice. I am pretty sure I am not the first to admit, but your yoga teachers too are constantly coping with the reality of being human. Naturally, there came a moment where I questioned my ability as a yoga teacher. That, too, was the fear and unnecessary worry that I had cultivated in my mind. I knew exactly what I had to do. I increased the intensity of my practice. I meditated more. I took longer and deeper breaths. Every day, the stress and anxiety diminished. I told myself that this was familiar and the last time, it passed. With each namaste and closure of class, I felt that I was healing. I felt that I was able to connect with the my fellow humans even better.
What this practice, including meditation, has taught me is to control my reactions to the stressors. How I cope with everything in my life is what has drastically changed, which in turn, has had a tremendous effect on my lifestyle. It has taught me to sit with the emotions, rather than dig a deeper hole and live with the negative emotions. In fact, this practice has taught me not to label said emotion, whether it’s negative or positive. It has taught me that even the positive, joyful emotions will pass when their time nears. Pessimistic much? No, just reality.
The cyclical nature of how our emotions, thoughts and memories have a direct effect on our mental well being is what I am working on being aware of. To be constantly cognizant of the nature of my mind is a lot of work and this work doesn’t just happen. It requires time, dedication, intention and self-compassion. Recognizing that certain unhealthy habits rise to surface when certain variables are not in place help me make that cycle shorter and less dramatic than the previous time. For example, if feelings of sadness immediately take me to the nearest ice cream parlor or the wine bottle, I try to sit down and think about why that is my first point of coping anyway. Replace ice cream with your guilty pleasure. How do you cope? How healthy is that coping mechanism? Stop, don’t judge it or feel bad about it. Accept and deal with it. Have that three scooped ice cream just like I did at 10pm at night walking on Hillhurst Ave. Heck, have a drag of your joint, but don’t attach to it. Well why the hell not, maybe your joint will help you down that ice cream with less guilt. I digress. It is the strong attachment that eventually digs you deeper into that hole. That nasty hole of anxiety and worry that you can choose to live with or the anxiety which, with time and proper nurturing, will leave you.
So, ladies and gentlemen. The next time your yoga instructor comes into the room just remember that they too, are human. Remember, as well, that they have every intention of making sure they are there for you, making sure you come out of there feeling refreshed and well. And if you don’t, then that’s exactly the emotion you should be sitting with. Don’t fight that either. They are sitting right there with you sometimes with some harsh and nasty emotions. But remember that we are here. Right there with you, dealing with the same human issues of love, joy, anger, impatience, etc. We are all in this together. And this, my friends, is the beauty of being in this journey together.