Why I want to teach yoga

For no apparent reason I’m going to give a short explanation of my pseudonym: bija is the sanskrit for seed or root. As in the seed from which things grow. As you can probably tell I’m very into my plant imagery and I tried to fit this word into a blog-friendly form. Alas it would not go so instead I decided to stick an ‘r’ in it and call myself it. Handily it’s almost my real name but not quite so I get to almost go by my name but keep some of the Google bots away.

Like a lot of people who practice yoga (and some who don’t) I want to teach yoga. I already have my eye on a course which will hopefully start in the next 9 months. This is a big deal to me, after my degree I swore off studying of any kind but I love yoga so much and so want to teach it that I’m making an exception.

I hope I’m up for the challenge, not only of the course but of the actual teaching part. My depression won’t make it any easier but hopefully all this work I’ve done helping myself cope will help.

I didn’t want to teach when I first started doing yoga, it never occurred to me. That was for photogenic people on beaches with many thousands of pounds to spend and willingness to travel. Not for me thanks, I’ll stick to my own mat and my own home.

But my first yoga teacher one day after class came over to me and (in front of everyone quite embarrassingly) told me I should think about teacher training. She said the way I did yoga was so meticulous and it would be good for me to train. I was surprised and flattered at first. However with later conversations I began to doubt her motives. She knew I was depressed and unemployed and I think she had labelled me as shy and in need of her help. I didn’t talk much in that class but it was predominantly 40something mothers and I was 24 and childless. How could I talk about how great it was to get away from the kids?! Anyway she said something which has forever stuck with me in a bad way. On asking her whether I had what it takes to be a good teacher she said “It’ll be the making of you, it’ll get you out of your little shell”

!! Little shell?! I was so insulted. What a condescending phrase! I was trying to make a point: you should only become a teacher if you have something to give. Teaching has to be more about giving than it is about creating a label for yourself. It has to be about learning from your students and giving them the knowledge that’s right for them, guiding them through their own experience. It’s not about the teacher at all, it’s about the student.

But still I thank my first yoga teacher because I decided then that I wanted to teach. Yoga has given me so much and I wanted to give that to others. Teaching yoga and painting is the only thing I can imagine myself doing for money.

I soon left my first yoga teacher and started going to a studio who runs a teacher training course. Recently I plucked up the courage to ask the studio owner (my second yoga teacher) about the course. She told me she’d been thinking about how I’d make a good teacher. She said that the last course produced teachers who were very keen on doing advanced poses but didn’t quite understand the serenity that comes with yoga. It’s about meeting students where they are. She said she thought I’d be good at teaching beginners that. Although, she quickly said, I would be good at the advanced stuff too.

Woah. I just assumed everyone thought I was shy! To have someone who teaches dozens of students pick me out and see a trait in me that I value in myself as important is incredible. I carry her words around with me like a talisman.