Do you have a certain concept or expectation of your yoga teacher?
As a yoga teacher, this is a subject I feel passionate about.
Lately, I've had all kinds of run-ins from participants who have illustrated to me common perceptions, ideas and beliefs about a 'proper yoga teacher'.
So what exactly is a yoga teacher really supposed to look or behave like!? If it's already accumulated a label, surely, that's taking away the whole ethos of 'yoga' itself.
Last week, I went to teach my regular yoga class at the health club- which needs members to swipe in to enter; teachers, though are admitted through automatically. However on this occasion, the receptionist ( who has seen me plenty of times before ) just looked at me blankly and asked ''what do you teach?'' Clearly he was reluctant to let me in, because he hadn't recognized me. On this particular day, I was dressed differently compared to usual as I was wearing a leather jacket and boots. The lady behind me who frequents my classes tried to explain ''you don't look like a yoga teacher today''.
I've even been challenged about why I get angry as surely a 'yoga teacher' doesn't get angry or upset, right? Again, another judgement based on a certain expectation of character.
Most Yoga teachers I know ( including myself ) have followed the path of the yoga philosophy because it has provided us with the tools for transformation. Which has helped us to better ourselves in order to lead a calmer, more peaceful life and to develop and evolve on all levels. Personally, I knew I couldn't carry on living the destructive lifestyle I had attracted. I really needed a positive, introspective change. Being a yoga teacher doesn't mean you're always pure, zen, eating a sattvic, vegan diet and staying in fancy pretzel positions all day long. In fact, those who have suffered the most and been through so much emotional pain are the biggest seekers of finding a way out of that heavy, dark negativity by yearning to gravitate more towards the light. Finally we share the teachings with our students, continuing to follow the path ourselves.
Whilst joining in a class as a participant a few weeks back, the teacher demonstrated a headstand and as her legs unevenly flew up in the air, she let out a scream and said, 'I'm going to fall'. It was truly refreshing witnessing she was happy to own, losing her balance and proof that teachers don't always nail the postures as they too have bad days.
I assure you, I didn't fall out of my mum's womb, straight into a headstand ( I wish I was that good ). It's all about the practice, falling down and having the guts and courage to get up again without allowing fear to block you. Besides, my own personal affirmation for trying the headstand is is 'when you go upside down, all your insecurities fall out of your pockets'.
The reason I love teaching is because the second I land on my mat, it makes me become the best version of myself and that's why I love what I do. It doesn't mean that makes my life perfect and exempt from bad moods and emotions.
Ladan Soltani- 'A dedicated yogi and author of fabulous fitness at 40'