Over the years I've taught many different styles of yoga in many different locations. The word "teacher" though can be misleading. Its standard practice in our culture today to label someone leading a practice as a teacher. Its a label we learn early on as children when we enter school and it sticks with us. A teacher is in charge, a teacher knows all, a teacher imparts general knowledge onto you. Everyone's definition differs but basically they are all very similar. I am also a certified paddle board instructor and when I'm teaching paddle boarding I'm fine with the teacher label. However when I'm "teaching" yoga I tend to think of myself very differently. Why the difference? When I'm teaching you to paddle I'm teaching you a basic defined set of skills. Those skills allow you to use a paddle board. To get on, to stand up, to balance, to move, to stop and to turn. Basic skills with a basic result. Everyone does the skills a little bit differently but they are basically the same and for the same purpose for everyone. In yoga, any style, i'm not teaching basic skills. Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind. I never sit down in any class and say, okay ... this is step one to quieting your mind. So what am I doing then? I'm showing you my practice. I'm guiding you through the practice I use and ideas I believe that have allowed me to find a quieter place. A quieter place. I haven't perfected my yoga. I never will. Its always going to be a practice. I will always work to be a little bit better. There are so many different ways you can pursue yoga, my knowledge is very limited. It may seem vast in comparison to what you know but yoga is the discovery of the self. You can only discover yourself through yourself. You are your only Guru. My practice may not be your practice. Or maybe only some parts of it will resonate with you. Your goal is to find your own practice. Become your own teacher.
That doesn't mean you take some classes and then you have to go home and do yoga all by yourself. You can do that. Or you can do anything else. Being your own teacher is about discovering what resonates with you. Finding what works and using that as part of your practice. Maybe its an intense asana class, or maybe its a quiet meditation, or maybe its singing or playing music, maybe its walking or running, maybe its reading. The possibilities are endless. An asana class is meant to show you a glimpse of what that peace might feel like. Once you are aware of what the feeling is you can find it anywhere and everywhere. You can begin to cultivate what works for you and build on it. It may develop or change over time and your practice can follow it.
So what is that feeling? I can only tell you what it is for me. I imagine it to be different for everyone. The old line "you know it when you find it" sounds like a lot of wishy washy talk but in my experience it was true. When you feel it you'll know. You'll know because you will feel better. We are feeling machines. We are constantly feeling everything. It is our interface to the world and everything around us. You don't need someone to tell you that you are feeling. If you are happy you know it. If you are hurt you know it. You just feel it. Its a universal language that is inherent to us all. I can't teach you how to feel angry, its something you just feel. This is the same. You will feel better. The only key is being open to it. We certainly all feel but many of us have learned to deny our feelings, to turn them off, to not be open to them. If we don't allow ourselves to feel then we can never feel better.
Still its always a practice. No matter how experienced or educated the teacher they are still practicing to be better, just like you. We are all practicing to be better if we choose to do so and are open to it. So your teacher is on a journey of their own. They are working to find a better self just like you. My practice is still often a struggle for me, full of ups and downs, as things change and I meander down life's path. I'm always practicing to be better. Sometimes I feel better and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I'm teaching a class and even though it appears that I am peaceful I am struggling inside as well.