If you knew yourself for even one moment,
If you could just glimpse your most beautiful face,
Maybe you wouldn’t slumber so deeply in that house of clay.
Why not move into your house of joy
and shine into every crevice!
For you are the secret Treasure-bearer, always have been.
Didn’t you know?
As a yoga teacher, I believe my job is to offer an experience such that a poem like the one mentioned above becomes an inner knowing, that this is Truth, and yes, Bliss is our birthright. We are perfect as we are. All is as it should be. This feeling, this inner knowing is easy to teach when one is on top of their game and feeling an abundance of joy to share, but what of circumstances when a yoga teacher or any spiritual teacher is going through difficult experiences I prefer to term “growing pains”. As much as we are viewed as “having it all together” in our field, we still must fall if we are to continue our spiritual growth. With any growth, there must be discomfort of some sort or we become unaware or stagnant. If we become unaware, we lose sight of the bigger picture and our knowing that the universe/God resides within us and so, we are all connected. If we become stagnant we become stale, leaving our students wanting more from us, yet we have nothing to give. We spend thousands of dollars training ourselves on the physical forms of yoga, ignoring the needs of the spirit.
How do we continue as yoga teachers to teach peace, love, bliss when we feel disharmony, distrust, and/or sorrow? I believe this is an opportunity to relate to our students, making us that much more approachable and believable when offering our teachings. Perhaps it may be a jolt when the usual Happy-Go-Lucky, Sunshine, and Gerber Daisy’s teacher takes his/her space on the mat, offering a lesson from a place where feelings of grief, cloudiness, and weeds reside. We can utilize our current state of being in our teachings of the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, which guide us through the roller coaster life within the human condition. We may be spiritual beings, but we are humans on planet Earth and sometimes life is uncomfortable, even for the most spiritual of human beings. Just as a physical manifestation of pain denotes our body’s need to be tended to, so does the pain of the spirit suggest we have some spiritual healing to do.
Finally, because we teach like aspects of Rumi’s poem, our students, if they have taken our previous teachings sincerely and to heart, they will notice the struggle and the truth behind the “always peaceful and optimistic” persona we try to create for the sake of our students. My experience has been that the students intuitively know when it is their time to teach us and they do so with a pat on the back, an inspirational email, a smile after class that is filled with 1,000 words of encouragement, or even a mention of a lesson you taught them that hits home and is appropriate for your current state of being.
So, while we teach all experiences are designed for our growth and everything is as it should be, we still must allow ourselves to falter, fall, and finally grow more beautifully than we could ever imagine. We must continue to encourage and love ourselves as much as we encourage and love our students. This seems logical, but while the path is difficult, we must remember the quote, “It’s the journey, not the destination”.