I keep coming across fitness and yoga “professionals” who are having public breakdowns over not living up to their projected ideals. The pressures these people are under to deliver an image and product that matches some social fantasy about health and happiness eventually becomes too large of a burden, and they end up feeling like failures, frauds, unloveable losers. I recently wrote a letter to one of these instructors who was thinking of giving up yoga because she felt her poses weren’t “good enough.” Of course, they were good enough and it was simply our deeper human condition that was fueling her doubts. My prayer is this brief letter will help her and you . . .
Dear L: In my opininon, your poses, alignment and teaching style are beautiful and professional. But those are really just secondary, low bar concerns. It’s your ability to sift and share your authentic insights and introspections about life that make you a valuable yoga instructor. Much of the yoga being taught these days, even by “perfect” instructors, is just dead–just endless (and often intimidating) pose throwing in service of some “health” or “fitness” god. As you’ve discovered, no amount of isolated pose work or body sculpting will alleviate our (ego’s) deeper, heartfelt emotions and concerns. If that were possible, physical therapy, the gym, or effective diet plans would be the place to seek enlightenment.
The true, original forms of yoga (Patanjali, Bhagavad Gita, Tantra, etc) were created to free us from these internal anxieties and burdens, so if you can figure out how to convey yoga’s answers to these universal problems to yourself and your students, you will be among the greatest teachers to ever stream across YouTube. If teaching (not instructing) still call to you, please keep naming the problem and helping us to explore yoga’s solutions. You–you’re insights and experiences–are the true gifts you have to offer to us.