I’ve been in your shoes recently. I’m a “newbie” of sorts, trying to find the right place to take yoga class, looking for the right teacher(s) for me. In the last two weeks, I’ve taken class at four different studios. One of the blessings of living in a city now is the abundance of places to practice, teachers to study with, "finding your tribe,” if you will. But, you guys, I’ll admit…practicing in a new location can be kind of scary and intimidating for this super cautious student [ahem me].
That’s right, I’m really, really cautious about where and with whom I study. In the last two weeks, I’ve felt the confusion of not knowing which is the actual front door to a studio. I’ve been confused about where to put my belongings and where to roll out my mat - like, Wait does the teacher face that way or this way? I’ve been in a room where I don’t know a soul, but you better believe I’ve turned to the person next to me and said hello [sometimes that’s shocking to a New England-er]. Stepping into this world all over again is a reminder of why I became a teacher and later a studio founder - I wanted to create a warm, welcoming experience where I knew students by name, where I remembered their aches and pains, their goals and dreams, and where I could encourage that growth.
I find myself seeking that for me right now. A place that’s welcoming. A place where I can grow and learn with my knowledge of yogic philosophy. Where I can get in touch with the yearnings of my heart, emotional pain, and physical manifestations of both. Sure, I’ve taken some lovely classes, but have I found “the place” yet? Or “the teacher?” Or “the vibe?”
No, not yet.
This morning, I stepped on my mat, which I do every single day. I sat on a bolster and breathed breath of fire. I started to move and then this comforting thought came over me. I am my greatest teacher. And, you? YOU are your greatest teacher.
Yoga teachers are guides, and there may be some really, really good ones, but they can never ever teach you what is absolutely right for you and your body. Only you can. That’s the beauty of yoga. It’s not dogmatic. What works for another body may not work for your body. The breath that you need today might be slightly different than what’s being cued in a group setting. The position of your hips in a pose might be slightly different than the teacher’s. And, that’s okay.
My job as a teacher is to be a mirror, reflecting your wholeness back at you. This is what teachers do - they remind you of who you already are as they share postures and breath and inspiration from yoga texts. Allow your yoga teachers to encourage your own inner wisdom, your connection with others, and to zero in on your individual physical and mental body needs. Because that is what yoga is truly about - we learn to recognize that the greatest teacher we seek, the answers we want, the peace we long for…is all within.
Once I remembered this, a feeling of warmth filled my heart. It took the pressure off trying to find the “right” place and putting such high expectations on another teacher. Do I value learning from others? Absolutely. Do I want a practice that’s safe and intelligently crafted? Yes. Do I crave moving and growing within a community? 100%. Do I ultimately know what I need in any given moment? Yes. But, a gentle “yogic” nudge in the right direction [emotionally and physically] is always welcome. Wouldn’t you agree? As always, I love hearing from you. Was this an “aha” moment? Do you agree that you are your own greatest teacher? I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. Over the years, I’ve been studying yoga philosophy and psychology that supports the individual even in a group setting. It’s why my personal path is drawing me to yoga therapy, and encouraging others to move past yoga as “fitness,” but rather as a true mind/body/spiritual wellness modality (because that’s what it is!). I’ve shared there is more to come. There are changes underfoot - stay tuned! However, if you’re intrigued by yoga therapy, which teaches YOU to recognize your inner teacher, I want to share great resources and articles here.
P.P.S. What does it feel like to constantly be in between two worlds as a mother and a business owner? Read my piece on Working Motherhood Part 2 here. A few weeks ago, I wrote Part 1 and the outpouring of emails, texts, and love were incredible. Thank you for sharing. We are never alone in our journeys.