What sort of teacher will I be this year? What can I promise my students? What intentions should I set?
2017 marks my twenty-fourth year of teaching. To the best of my recollection the first yoga class I taught was on behalf of Mountain View Adult Education. Or maybe it was the Parks and Recreation department. In any case, my ‘studio’ was a carpeted classroom filled with desks. Every Saturday morning I arrived early to push aside them aside in order to create space for all five (on a good day) of my students. We didn’t have mats. Instead we rolled out towels or worked on the carpet. We wore tee shirts and shorts and had no props or music. This was well before yoga teachers doubled as mix masters; before the Yoga Industrial Complex entered the stratosphere .
I taught the class as I had been taught: demonstrate, practice, refine, demonstrate and then move to the next asana. There may have been vinyasa classes happening somewhere but not in my cloistered Iyengar yoga community.
Two and a half decades has seen tremendous change. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a twinge of nostalgia for the way things used to be. I miss teaching for the love of teaching. Sometimes these days it feels as though there’s a competition to see who’ll be featured at the next Wonderlust gig or land the cover of Yoga Journal.
Back in the late 20th century we were so earnest. There was something so pure about it all. There was never any hope of my surviving and thriving as a yoga teacher and that was fine. In fact, unless you were that rare breed – a studio owner (and when I began teaching the Iyengar Yoga Center was the only studio in town; Yoga Source wouldn’t open until 1994) you had no choice but to keep the day job. Of course, back then I was a starving artist and a fledgling yoga teacher. What was I thinking? No wonder I packed it in and headed for Ireland!
But that was then and this is now. For a time I tried to keep up with it all. I completed my 200-hour training and then a few more trainings after that. I joined Yoga Alliance. As recently as last year I upgraded my YA designations and became a Continuing Education Provider but now I’m wondering ‘why‘?
The answer is so that I can find my place in this 21st century iteration of yoga. And there is a place for me – the older teacher. I’m happy to hand off much of what modern yoga is to the more ambitious. Knowing that I can me brings a bittersweet strength and liberation.
So. What sort of teacher will I be this year? I know I’ll continue to teach my truth. And for what it’s worth, that is my intention and my promise.