What they are not telling you: Challenges of Being a Yoga Teacher
I bet you all had moments where you looked at your yoga teachers’ serene auras, gracious movements and said “what a wonderful profession”. And you were absolutely right, being a yoga teacher is wonderful. But it’s demanding as well and like all other professions it comes with its own challenges.
The most amazing thing about being a yoga teacher is the fact that you get to earn your living from something that you truly love and believe in. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many of us in our “modern” society. The downside of teaching yoga as a profession is, it is actually a bit weird to call teaching yoga a profession. It feels contradictory to the whole idea behind the practices of Yoga. The wisdom of Yoga belongs to everyone and yoga teachers are merely sharing this wisdom that was transferred to them by their teachers. Still, yoga teachers are putting a lot of energy, love and effort into their classes. The struggle for survival didn’t get easier as the human race get more civilized. Many of us need to work for living without much spare time. So, the only way for a yoga teacher to keep teaching is to earn money while sharing the knowledge of Asanas and Yogic way of being.
We usually overlook how big of a responsibility the yoga teachers are taking. Imagine teaching a class as a yoga teacher: people come into your class to move with you, to connect with themselves and the universe, to deal with their mental and physical issues, to further their spiritual practices, and to heal. And you have the tool to lead them into their sacred aim. You tell them to breath, they breath. You tell them to put their feet behind their heads and they sincerely do their bests to get is to that rather weird shape. They trust you with their breath with their bodies. The yoga students open their mind and hearts to the teachings that the yoga teacher will offer during the class. What a privilege, what an amazing opportunity for sharing and connecting.
Under these circumstances it is very important to be humble. The trust the students bestow upon the teacher might be a dangerous trap for an ego that is not being checked. We are all special in our unique way but still we are all the one and the same. What makes the yoga teacher look more sparkly and shiny is merely the wisdom that they are responsible to share. The wisdom of Yoga that have been passed on from generations to generations for thousands of years.
Here comes the last challenge that I want to talk about: maintaining the self-practice. The self-practice is a very important source of exploration and inspiration for a yoga teacher. When teaching they channel the aura of their own practices, their energetic reposes to the poses they are teaching. The challenge is if you are teaching classes during the day, you don’t want to think about what to do next or how to do it when its your time to relax into your own yoga practice. It feels more comfortable and relaxing to join a class. But then you miss your chance of free exploration of poses, variations, modification, your chance to test and improve your sequences. This does not mean that yoga teacher should never go to other classes. In fact, they need to. Yoga world is very dynamic, changing, transforming constantly. It is very important to keep in touch with what’s going on through joining other teacher’s classes, workshops. This just means that somedays after or before teaching a lot of classes, a yoga teacher still needs to go and teach themselves.
I actually have one more, bonus challenge. I am not sure if I can call this a challenge, but here it comes: There is so much to learn. Yoga has a very wide area of study. Yoga teacher’s studies anatomy of movement, yoga history, 5000 years of philosophy, subtle energies, pranayama, meditation, Ayurveda, lunar cycles, injuries, nutrition, movement, yin yoga, etc. There is always this list of books and it never gets shorter but only longer with each finished book. It is both intimidating and exhilarating.
All in all, sharing the teachings of Yoga is deeply satisfying on the spiritual level. The yogic lifestyle is inspiring the world for better. The privilege of being a yoga teacher is worth all the challenges that come with it.