For the Love of Yoga

Guest Post By Ivy Rose

Everyone gets sick of yoga. I don’t care if you sleep on your Jade mat and carry around an Iyengar book in your hemp cotton bag. I bet you have all at some point heard an inner voice say, “shut up” when you were ankle deep in communal sweat and the teacher told you to extend your crown chakra up to the heavens.

I don’t dislike yoga at all. I spent five years teaching it and from those five years I learnt something very important about myself. I learnt that I am not supposed to be teaching. I know I will never open a studio, or teach a workshop, or headline at Wunderlust festival in Hawaii or Bali Spirit Festival. I hope I never again hear my own voice say, “inhale up-ward dog; exhale downward-facing dog” or have to explain the spiralling rotation of limbs in any of the warrior poses.

The truth is that I do not want to be known as ‘the yoga teacher’. This isn’t to say that I will never teach yoga again. However, I feel like that title is too carelessly thrown around and I don’t feel like I can live up to it. In 2008 I did my teacher training over four intense weeks. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Did it make me a yoga teacher? Ostensibly, yes. I could instruct a class of asana. I could lead a practice through a well-aligned vinyasa. Was I helping anybody toward a greater sense of enlightenment? Probably not, unless the lights in the room had dimmers. Get it? Ok never mind. None of my students ever laughed at my jokes either.

It’s not that I was a bad teacher. I actually felt like I was a “good” teacher. I taught what I knew but admittedly I did not know very much. Most of the time I went in with no plan and just opened my mouth and became a channel for whatever needed to happen. The poses would occur naturally and the class would flow without requiring too much of my brain getting in the way. It was more intuition rather than intelligence. Through the following five years of teaching and learning, I explored the dramatic flow of Shiva Rea, Himalayan meditation in India and the scientific alignment of Simon Borg-Olivier. All of this has helped me to become a better teacher, but mostly it has made me realise that I am still just a student. If yoga is the body and I extended my right arm and took a nail file out and scraped once across a single nail, I will have just erased everything I seem to know about yoga.

When I came back from India, I found teaching harder because I had so much more information. I wanted to pack it all in to every single 75-minute class. The feedback was that I spoke too much, my classes weren’t strong enough and people didn’t even get sweaty. Then I realised I was scraping together my classes as income, counting up my worth in dollar per minute value and asking if I even looked forward to going to work. The answer was no. I was starting to dread my own classes. I didn’t know if people wanted to be there and suddenly I realised I didn’t want to be there. I even stopped chanting the traditional OM in any of my glasses (shock horror). I had to go back to my foundation and start again. I wanted to be silent for a whole hour out of every day for no other reason than to hear my own breath. When yoga is your job it is easy to stop going to yoga as your rest. I wanted out of the whole yoga world.

I stopped teaching and I stopped practicing.

I went to the gym and lifted weights. Heavy weights. The amazing thing is that I still found my breath and my stillness. Sometimes yoga is not doing yoga.

Eventually I went back to yoga, stronger and more humble. I returned to yoga like a brand new student.

Anyone can be a yoga teacher. Anyone can pay the few thousand bucks and stand before a room of people and instruct the asana. The Eastern Suburbs in particular is saturated with intelligent, bright, conscious and passionate yogis. The word ‘yoga’ has become somewhat synonymous with the word ‘Bondi’ and even Clovelly and Coogee are quickly following suit as yoga hubs of the East. There is work out there for the right yoga teacher but the fact of the matter is that if I don’t really feel like it’s in my blood to do it then I should be on the mat, learning from these people who do.

So why don’t I teach anymore? I don’t believe in yoga as a work out, I don’t believe yoga fixes everything and I don’t want yoga to be my “job”. If I ever teach again, I don’t know if it will be enlightening or scientific or dramatic, but I hope you learn something from it and I hope I am doing it for the love of it and not to pay my bills.

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