Practice what you preach

A little under two years ago I jumped into the scariest adventure of my life, I became a small business owner. There was a lot of planning that went into the whole process and when we opened the doors I felt ready. We had plans for just about everything we thought would go wrong. Now, the actual process of running the business was not hard; It still isn’t. However, this isn’t an article about how to run a business or a story of how my time has been as a business owner. This is a Blog about the one part of yoga that has broken my heart- Complaining, gossiping, negativity and overall ego driven teachers.  

Now, not every teacher that I have come across fits into said categories. I have met many amazing, wonderful, community driven, community based, compassionate teachers along the way. And yes, I guess I could be letting the actions of a few loud voices cloud my thoughts. But as yoga teachers, we should practice what we preach. Students need to be able to come in and disconnect from the world and connect to themselves when they practice. We are here to serve the community, not ourselves.

Ahimsa; non-harming, kindness, compassion to all living things. Now this doesn’t just mean be vegan, all though it can be part of the journey. It also means, most importantly, to be non-harming, kind and compassionate to ourselves. The practice is about self-reflection no matter what your practice looks like. We must first be students of the practice before we can be a teacher of the practice.  As Archbishop Desmond Tutu says: “Ubuntu is about the essence of being human, it is part of the gift that Africa will give the world. It embraces hospitality, caring about others, being able to go the extra mile for the sake of others. We believe that a person is a person through another person, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanize you, I inexorably dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms and therefore you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in belonging” (“Ubuntu is the idea that what makes us human is the humanity we show each other. It is a Xhosa (South African) word and philosophy emphasizing community, sharing and generosity.) When a teacher walks into a studio to teach, the first thing that tends to occur do is complaining. Thus, you are hurting not only the environment but yourself.  When all your social media posts are negative and come with an excuse you again are only hurt yourself. You sit around a coffee table with friends and all you do is gossip, that too is self harming and in my opinion the worst. We should deeply understand what we have been taught- when you dehumanize others, you inexorably dehumanize yourself. 

Satya; the commitment to the truth. As we know, it is not always easy to tell the truth. I myself, have told many lies in my life and many hurt people by this exact act. But now I try my hardest to be truthful even when it’s hard to hear. Yes, one can watch in the way we deliver the truth and try to do so in the most compassionate way, but as teachers to the practice, we must stay true to who we are- we must speak what we believe to be the truth. I have a working mission statement for life that I revisit at least once a month; “To be happy and healthy”. I ask myself this almost every day, “…is this going to make me happy? Or is this going to keep me healthy?” and if the answer is no, chances are I won’t do it.  With this I tell you, as a teacher, no one is asking you to be perfect, to live everyday like the gurus of the past. If you ask me, it’s damn impossible to do so. What we are asking you to do is simple, be you. Be the most authentic form of you that you can be today.  If you, yourself don’t have a meditation, pranayama practice how is it that you can teach it? What I teach is what I practice, and yes right now my teaching is centered around the asana practice, but not because that is what yoga is about, but I do think that is what most people come to class for and need. As you grow as a student and become more interested in the meaty part of the practice, so will your students. Don’t fake it or peddle something you don’t yourself practice.

What you do in the class room doesn’t make you a teacher of the practice, it’s what you do when you’re left alone with your own thoughts, behind closed doors, when no one is watching that the true teacher reveals itself. It’s the moments that we sometimes fear the most when we look in the mirror and see yourself looking back. Do you reflect about your day and see how you can make a bigger difference with the people and community around you? Or do you just sit there and complain to your partner about how bad your day was? Or do you sit there gossiping about others when you think no one is listening… do you find yourself being more negative than positive?  We should all stop thinking “what’s in it for me?” and start asking “What can I do to help”