Lately I’ve felt a pull to return to my yoga philosophy studies. There’s something about looking at life through a philosophical lens that makes me see myself more objectively. The truth is, I’ve been spending way too much time up in my head. I’m trying to work through uncertainty by over-thinking. It’s not going well. Let’s face it: life in general, but especially these days, is nothing if not unpredictable. We’re all trying to navigate the unknown as we face re-entry into a post-vaccinated world. There’s a lot to process and consider, and it raises some big questions about how we will redefine our lives. Ultimately, the only way to chart a course in a constantly shifting landscape is by grounding ourselves in a clear purpose. Yoga philosophy has a lot to teach us about how to find steadiness in an ever-changing reality, and I have found it strangely calming to work through my doubt and anxiety by asking bigger questions.
Foundational Sequence: Ardha Chandrasana
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) is the perfect pose to practice cultivating a playful approach to balance. It’s categorized as an open twist standing pose with the front thigh in a position and effort of external rotation. If you think this pose is easy, I have some bad news for you: Ardha Chandrasana is haaaaaaard. In fact, in my opinion it’s one of the most underestimated and misunderstood postures in the entire standing pose lexicon, right up there with Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) which I like to refer to as the black hole of yoga.
I’ve been feeling quiet and introspective in the wake of the untimely and shocking death of Maty Ezraty. I’m still very much in the throes of processing this loss. As if grief wasn’t complicated enough, I never had a personal relationship with Maty. In fact, I only practiced with her once.
I think one of the biggest challenges of teaching yoga is the tendency to make assumptions. The truth is: It’s hard to read a room without reading into it. It’s hard not to label what we see and feel. It’s hard to hold space without getting in the way. It’s ALL hard. Teaching is HARD.
The Practice of Authenticity
Ironically, one of the biggest challenges of becoming a yoga teacher is the very process we as teachers facilitate for our students: the practice of being authentic. Teaching will leave you feeling so vulnerable in revealing and unexpected ways. Beyond the wave of insecurities that will crash over you as you stand at the front of a room full of strangers, or the feelings of inadequacy that arise when you strive to teach well, is the very real obstacle you never knew you had to face: yourself. Your work is to unblock the channel through which the teaching flows by eliminating the patterns, blindspots, and beliefs that prevent you from embodying who you are. To be a good teacher, you need to know your subject; to be an excellent teacher, you need to know yourself.
The Art of The Edit
There is no short-cut to becoming a good teacher. It takes time and experience. The craft of teaching demands practice—as Patanjali suggests—for a long period of time, without break, and in earnest. I know what you’re thinking: “But Chrissy, what am I supposed to do while I wait for experience? I have to teach my next class in an hour!” I totally get it, navigating the awkwardness of inexperience is hard. I remember walking into the classroom those first few years feeling like a total fraud and how tempting it was to cover up my insecurities with over-instruction, fancy sequencing, or superficial spirituality. I learned quickly that this will only pull you off course and make this inherently long road even longer. Here’s my advice: Rather than trying to make up for what you feel you lack, focus on editing out what stands in your way.