Since I’ve started teaching yoga, I realize how much more I am probably getting out of the experience than my “students.” I put the word “students” in quotations for a variety of reasons. First, we are all practitioners, regardless of where we stand in a class. Second, the idea that I could impart wisdom to anyone on this enormous thing called yoga is kind of laughable to me; I am only just scratching the surface. But, as Yogi Bhajan said:
“If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.”
I only recently started teaching yoga, so I can hardly consider myself any sort of master. And truthfully, I can’t imagine I – or anyone else, really – could ever “master” yoga. Not to get too deep, but yoga is as vast as the universe. Just when you think, “Ah, I finally have a handle on it” your mind gets blown with some new bit of wisdom.
But I’ve learned so much in the short time that I’ve been teaching. Only through this experience am I beginning to wrap my mind around concepts that I learned about years ago in my teacher training. Not to mention what I am learning about myself. Teaching yoga is a lot more cost effective than years of therapy. And yet, I think I’ve gotten more out of it (with deepest apologies to all my past therapists).
Nonetheless, those who arrive to a yoga class in the role of “student” look to the person in the role of “teacher” for guidance and instruction. I can’t help but giggle a bit internally when students come up to me after class asking for information. Really? You’re asking me these questions? Who am I to tell you?
Luckily, the majority of the questions tend toward the physical rather than the philosophical. “Am I doing chatarunga correctly,” for instance. Or “What do I do if my lower back hurts in bridge?” And for these questions, there are usually fairly concrete answers. Although, even in this there are different ways of looking at things depending on what type of yoga you practice. Ah, nothing is ever black and white in yoga!
Regardless, I try my best to respond. Sometimes the best response (when I don’t know the answer which is often the case) is doing some homework. I try to find an answer and bring that information back to the student. I don’t want to abuse my position by providing a pat, off-hand response that may be incorrect. I want to respect the role my students have ascribed to me. I want to, as I was taught in my training, take the seat of the teacher. I just hope I do that role justice.