Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Do You Teach?

I recently finished a week of yoga teacher training. As always, I met some of the most interesting and like-minded people.

Except one woman.

She was, of course, a yoga teacher. She taught at a YMCA in her hometown somewhere outside San Diego. All week long all she did was complain.

Sometimes people in her class leave before savasana. She always has to deal with new people. Some of the class wants it to be easier. Some want a harder class. Some won't follow her cues. People complain about her music. She isn't friends with any of the other yoga teachers where she works.

And on and on and on she went all week about her list of complaints teaching. She didn't seem very happy to be teaching or to be at the training.

Finally at lunch one day I couldn't take anymore. "Then why do you teach?" I asked.

Well you'd have thought I just asked her the final Jeopardy question. She was speechless. (Which at the risk of sounding snarky was kind of nice that she stopped whining for a moment).

She never did give me an answer. But I didn't hesitate to tell her that all teachers have those issues. It's part of teaching.

And to remember, its not our class. It's our student's class. We are just there to facilitate their practice that day.

And it's a big part of the reason that yoga teacher trainings, retreats and conferences are so important. They feed and nourish us as teachers. We get to take a break from being teacher and get to go back to being student again.

We get a reminder of what it's like to feel a little confused in class, not feel well on the mat and unsure of ourselves.

Taking a break from teaching makes us better teachers. Not just from the new information we learn, but for the rejuvenation it gives us. We can return more knowledgeable, rested and re-invigorated.

I encouraged her to take a break from teaching. To nourish herself. And then decide if she truly wanted to be a teacher. It's not for everyone.

But when you are meant to be a teacher, you know it deep inside you. And no amount of distractions keep you out of the yoga room.


  1. It's strange why certain people keeping doing what they're doing whether it be teaching yoga or making bottle caps when they don't enjoy it. They just have to keep it up until they find someone like you to come along and tell them it's OK not to do it anymore. Sometimes they need someone to give them permission to change.

    I teach yoga because I can't imagine not teaching yoga.

  2. She would probably have a mental breakdown if I went to one of her classes one day. =)

  3. you can feel this when someone who IS yoga walks into the room. my mentor is this. she's amazing — her energy is like arms snuggling you in for a hug { even if you aren't the huggiest person, like me :) }.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree, and think that if you feel like this you also owe it to your students to take a break. How can you serve others if you're caught up in your own 'stuff' all the time?