Recently I was chatting with someone on a dating app and the conversation turned toward the standard, “so, what do you do?” question. Often I’m hesitate to throw out that I teach yoga, because I’d like to keep my personal life and my yoga life as separate as possible. That said, eventually it’s a topic that’s going to come up.
It led to this message appearing in my notifications, “Have you ever tried goat yoga?”
Part of me cringed.
Goats? Gimmick yoga. Grumble grumble.
Instead of ranting, I made a pun asking if she was “kidding” me and moved the conversation forward.
This did lead me to thinking … maybe I could come up with something catchy to set me apart from the crowded yoga field that doesn’t involve live animals and requisite chemical cleanup afterward.
Unfortunately my idea — yoga auditor — is probably about as niche as it gets. Which teacher wouldn’t want someone to attend their class and give objective feedback? I do it with myself all the time, as if the Pranakriya 200-hour YTT facilitations never ended.
I joke, but the honest, open facilitation conducted after each Pranakriya practice teaching session remains useful. Some of the affirmations continue to ring out in my ears 18 months or more after the fact.
For the first couple months after I began teaching, my drives home consisted of me talking to myself on a voice recording app as I attempted self-facilitation. I never actually listened to those recordings, yet it felt productive airing out my thoughts, because I’m sure at some point in our yoga teaching lives we’ve all asked ourselves this dreaded question: “Am I doing a good job?”
If you take the words of Swami Kripalu to heart and truly are a neutral observer of self, maybe answering that question is simple. Better yet, perhaps you don’t even worry about it because the idea of “good” shouldn’t factor into the equation, since it means you’re still caught up in your story.
At a certain level you are who you are as a teacher and the students who enjoy what you offer, will find you — others inevitably will move on.
Of course, this is much easier said than done. We all have our own anxieties or doubts — I *always* want to offer the best class I possibly can and actually feel upset with myself when sensing a class doesn’t quite land as planned.
Did I talk too much — or not enough?
Was my theme too esoteric?
Did I offer too many options or modifications?
Was it too hard — or not hard enough?
I could go on and, really, there wouldn’t be a point. Yoga isn’t an Olympics gymnastics floor routine where there is listed criteria for judges to compute a perfect score.
Instead, writing this I’ve come to realize that my Pranakriya trainings keeps me humble and, above all, human.
I’d rather be who I am in that given moment — good, bad or something else — than someone who’s just playing the idea of a yoga teacher.
Mike Cardillo, RYT-200, lives and teaches yoga in Connecticut. He believes yoga is more than simply making shapes with your body.
He can be reached at yogawithmikeCT [at] gmail.com or found at Facebook.com/yogawithmikeCT