During my yoga training we have been warned on several occasions that there is a very high likelihood for Yoga Teachers to neglect their own practice of yoga. I didn’t think much of it, because I was getting my fair share of yoga at that point. We were meeting once a month for the entire weekend and we not only practiced yoga 2.5 hours at a time, but we also studied the philosophy and in between the monthly meetings I was also spending a fair bit of time reading, researching and writing assignments. So, I felt that, even though my physical practice was limited to about a total of 10 hours monthly, I was doing other yogic things that more than compensated for lack of daily practice. Now that I have started teaching, I find that my own practice has definitely taken a back seat and prepping for a class takes precedence. Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because I’ve forgotten what yoga did to my mind and my well-being. Let me explain.
I’m a born worrywart. My mind is instinctively concerned with something going wrong. At a slightest indication of trouble my mind will dwell and analyze the situation until I literally become sick with worry. I tend to overanalyze the situation and try to find out every single scenario of any given issue, concentrating my energy on the worst case scenarios. This makes for a very unpleasant existence. It makes me unable to go to sleep easily, because my mind will be constantly on overdrive. Long story short, there is too much happening in my mind. And you ask: “What does that have to do with yoga practice?” Well, I say A LOT. When I first started practicing yoga I have learned to let go, to surrender. I took on the attitude of : “What will be will be and unless I can change the outcome, I should not stress my mind with it.” This was very difficult for me to accomplish, being a person that tended to worry so much. But with practice I did conquer my innate propensity to busy my mind with unnecessary thoughts. After all, that’s one of the objectives of yoga – to quiet the mind, to stop constant vacillations of the mind, to surrender and be in the moment rather than everywhere else. There have been many situations since in which I had employed this philosophy of detaching myself from the situation and letting things fall where they may without worrying. And without exception my mind was at peace whatever the outcome.
Last night I realized that this surrender, this quiet mind was no longer mine. I lack my practice and as a result I lack a quiet, peaceful mind. I was on the way home from work last night and as I was turning onto the street I live on, I heard an unfamiliar sound coming from somewhere in the car. I immediately tensed up and thought to myself : “Please! Not another issue with the car!!” (I’ve had quite a bit of going on with my vehicle in the past year or so). Later on that night I had to leave the house again to go teach my yoga class and again I heard the scrapping noise. May I just say that my night was not exactly peaceful. I could not fall asleep as my mind was racing with worry and worse case scenarios. I did manage to sleep, but it did not come easy. I left home this morning and I noticed the noise was gone. I came back home without hearing the noise again and soon I started putting 2 and 2 together and it suddenly hit me that I have lost my yoga mind. I created a problem with the car in my mind not knowing what was happening. I reached into my reserve of worst case scenarios like I used to and let my mind run amok with worry! To what end? To lose several hours of sleep? Worrying about what might be did not fix the car, in fact I don’t know if there is or isn’t anything wrong with it. The point is, I have forgotten how to quiet down my mind and how peaceful it can be once I release it from the responsibility of analyzing, speculating and worrying. I have neglected my yoga practice. I no longer sit and breathe, there is NO meditation, there is NO practice.
So the moral of this story is that my teaching cannot interfere with continuation of self study, as that would mean teaching something I no longer practice and that’s not who I am and that’s not what yoga is about.
In Peace and Happiness.