My yoga journey has had it’s ‘Ups-and-Downs’. Everyday that I practice, there is always something to learn, to take in and ways to grow.
It all started fifteen years ago when I was fourteen-years-old and took on yoga as an extra-curriculum activity that I took for granted. I had deep respect for my teacher but I found it boring and felt as though I could be doing something more active. So, I left- not understanding the power of stillness and asana.
I returned to yoga almost five years after that with an eating disorder, broken heart, lost sense of self and dance-induced injuries. I was in a lot of pain and felt like there was no exit. Yoga eased this pain and helped me re-train and un-learn what I had come to know about life.
Five years ago, I made a decision to share what I had learnt about yoga with others. Upon making the decision to become a yoga teacher, I learnt and am still learning to be humble and to take in so many great pieces of advice from my surroundings.
These 5 pieces of advice have made me a better yoga student and teacher:
1. ‘Practice and all is coming’ - Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois.
When I was younger, I would struggle with crippling anxiety. I would be left unable to speak or do anything because of my anxiety. Hearing this piece of advice didn’t cure me of anxiety; however, it helped me plan and manage my time correctly. It also reminded me to trust. There is only so much that I can do and the rest is up to The Universe. Whether it’s with relationships, money, jobs or travel, if I give my all, do the best that I can and stay consistent, results come without the need to attach to them.
2. ‘Be authentic’- Iyanla Vanzant.
Truthfully, the yoga world can sometimes feel competitive. It’s challenging to brand yourself, to remember sequences, remember where you are supposed to teach and remember to stick to the purpose of why you became a yoga teacher in the first place. That’s why authenticity is so important. When you are authentic, you give others permission to do the same. When you are the best version of you, you shine. You shine because no one else has the essence that you have decided to embrace.
3. ‘Let go of the need to make other people’s experience for them’- Emalia Dawson
This woman has had the biggest impact on my progression as a yogi because she embodies authenticity and staying true to a purpose. She gave me this piece of advice after taking my class and it shifted my perspective of teaching completely. Before hearing this, I felt like I needed to do the work for my students; however, after hearing this, I realized that it is a joint effort between the students and teacher. The pressure is not on me to be perfect and never make a mistake. I can teach, make mistakes and grow while still being a good teacher.
4. ‘Some people may not like your class and that’s okay’- Chaelon Costello.
Similarly to how I received the other piece of advice is how I received this one and when Chae told me this piece of advice, I cried. I felt a deep release. I had always had the ‘disease to please’, as Oprah calls it. Having gone to an All-Girl’s High School, I never felt enough and had a deep desire to make people like me. Trying to make people like me was painful and exhausting. She probably has no idea but, her telling me this released me. Since that day, I have had people leave my class and it doesn’t eat me up. People who don’t like me or what I have to offer do not deserve my mental mindspace; those who appreciate and respect me do.
5. ‘If you asked The Universe for something, it came and you don’t want it anymore, send it back!’ -Jared McCann.
Jared uttered these words after our morning practice during his teacher-training in New York , two years ago. They resonated so deeply within me because I had just accepted a job as acting General Manager at a restaurant that I had thought I wanted but turns out that I didn’t after all. I felt guilty to turn it down so I took it. I took it and regretted it; however, I didn’t want to show The Universe that I was ungrateful. Jared’s words that morning liberated me. I understood that just because I had previously wanted something, doesn’t mean that I had to want it when it came. Sometimes sending it back doesn’t mean ungraciousness; it means knowing what you want and making yourself happy.