There are two known ways one can fall in love with another person—one you fall in love at first sight and in a second scenario, you fall in love with him/her gradually as you start exploring each other. I am having that second kind of love affair with yoga. Falling in love helps you develop a unique understanding of another person and sharing one of its kind proximity with that person. So my bond with yoga is as exclusive and intimate as falling in love.
The purpose of taking up yoga, like many of you, was to manage my stress and at the same time take care of physical fitness. When I began my yogasana practice, I had no idea that my acquaintance with yoga would turn into a long lasting affair. I never visualised in adolescenthood, not even in my distant dreams that I will take up yoga as the profession to realise my true potential. During childhood, thanks to 90’s television serials, I always perceived myself as the dashing and dynamic investigative journalist, who would pen real stories of poor virtuous people who can’t’ stand for themselves.
Life is filmy, but not that filmy
Post journalism studies, I tried to convey this fire of journalism inside me during my job interviews as a fresher, but I found hardly anyone seemed impressed. For them, I was one more immature young girl, who will understand with the passing time that she cannot change the world. They were right. Actually you cannot change the world, you should become the change. I knew this theoretically but I could grasp its real meaning during yoga studies. The sad and hilarious part is that no one offered me an assignment where I will push my limits as a journalist. I was surprised how movie/TV serial heros can land up their dream assignments finally! It was my first stint with reality; films may mirror our lives but life is not that filmy.
My mind always had an irksome question of how long I would continue my association with slower progress (not at par with expectations) as well as lesser contentment. Problems (including feeling of boredom) can be attributed to the evolution of human beings. Every invention whether fire; telephone or social digital networks are born out of stumbling blocks which the human race faces from time to time. Longing for physical fitness and stress free life motivated me to take up yoga.
Being a yoga student during a teacher’s training course at The Yoga Institute, Mumbai, was an ultimate experience. The course changed me inside out. The immediate effect was highly positive and constructive, and it was visible in my personality that time.
Dreams Vs Reality
My enthusiasm to teach yoga was over pouring. But being a teacher has its own benefits and challenges too that I realized later. Yoga teacher training program was one of the biggest milestones of my life. I had the notion that it will lead to a very peaceful, happy and wonderful life thereafter.This overconfidence was the outcome of my wholesome training in yoga. After investing a year for formal yoga studies and being with crazy yoga lovers, it was very much natural that we assume that people beyond the institute world are yearning to learn yoga.
As the newly passed out yoga teacher, I had a vivid and wide imagination that people would just flock to my yoga class. But it turned out to be a self-acclaimed illusion. When you realise the community’s understanding of yoga is superficial and motivating individuals to continue to practice yoga (yoga on the mat) for long is actually a tough job. Over the period, there has been progressive change in the mindset towards yoga–it is really heartening to see the society yoga perspectives are going through evolution and many individuals want to adapt to the true sense of yoga.
Journey from caterpillar to butterfly
My yoga teaching experience can be compared with a butterfly’s journey of metamorphosis. One fine day, the caterpillar stops eating, spins itself into a silky cocoon by hanging upside down to a leaf or the branch. After a few days, the caterpillar emerges as a butterfly. To transform itself, the caterpillar goes through a struggle and hard work. But as soon as it becomes a butterfly, it is free to soar effortlessly whichever direction it wants. Though yoga is passion itself for many yoga followers like me, it is much more than that–it actually diverts yogi towards his/her true potential.
Being a yoga teacher invites several experiences of various natures– good, bad, worst and best. It has given me a chance to apply the philosophy to life and form my own life philosophy too. I am sharing here some takeaways of my yoga story with you. They are not purely yogic experiences but amalgamation of my life experiences infused with yoga. You will definitely find some connection with a few of them as a student of yoga or a yoga teacher
1.Perfection simply doesn’t exist
The pursuit of perfectness never ends–it is an infinite process. Whether you practice one asana 10 times, 100 times or 1000 times; there will be scope for improvement all the time. The same rule can be applied to life. Whatever you achieve in your life; you will always feel that I can still have it more. So there is nothing like a perfect relationship, profession, family, creation or business or anything. You can definitely pursue the best but it is not necessary it would be perfect.
2.The power of loving yourself.
The biggest critic of anybody is no one other than self. Just recollect, how many times have you judged yourself in the last week? For example; I see others and tell myself, “see how good her figure is? You are still struggling with your extra belly fat. When I see social media updates of my friends; oh she has been there. I am still exploring my backyard. He has gifted himself a BMW and I couldn’t purchase a Maruti for so many years.
So we keep on criticizing ourselves on a daily basis and we don’t even realize it. An intense chronic self criticism can actually be harmful for our wellbeing. We can definitely strive for the better but it shouldn’t be out of self-hate but self-love. Cultivating little compassion and love for the self can really help release unnecessary stress patterns from the body and mind. There is no other feeling as powerful as loving and accepting yourself the way you are.
3.There is nothing wrong with selling & marketing
Being in a holistic profession has its own pros and cons. As the yoga teacher; you receive tremendous respect and love. But you cannot forget that you are actually one of the service providers as per the modern economy. If you rely on your teaching both for earnings and contentment, then it is apparent that you need to put up some effort to show your best to the world so that you get more students. There is nothing dirty about that. If you make false promises, convey wrong aspects of yoga; then it would not be ethical.
But making the yoga profession more fruitful is as worthy as any other respected profession or business. Though teaching yoga cannot be considered as the pure business, understanding of sales and marketing mechanics can help the teacher to reach more people, educate them for yoga and earn respectable income
4.There is no substitution for discipline
The destiny might have a role to play in our success but it is 100% true without discipline you cannot achieve any milestones in your life. I observed my work style in a neutral way and I found that I don’t finish many of the in-hand tasks. I leave one thing and take up another one. This way I wasted much of my time and efforts. Then I complained about the status quo in my life. For example; I started this blog with a lot of enthusiasm and posted a few good pieces initially. But I didn’t take any effort to publish any post from last 3 to 4 years. So giving up very early without giving my best was my biggest hurdle. Once I realized that I started working on them one by one. This post is the outcome of that discipline:)
5. You don’t need to cry to express empathy
Each person is unique and so is their story. As the teacher, you meet people with distinct backgrounds. Our understanding of sorrow, miseries and pain is limited–our own and loved ones’ experience, what we read and watch, shape the idea of suffering. As the teacher, you witness many strange and weird life stories which don’t fit into the normal definition of pain. The chances of falling into despair become very high. You take everything personally. So it took a really long time to listen to pain tales without getting attached to them. Feeling emphatic doesn’t mean to take your body and mind through the same misery of storytellers.
6. Faith over fear
Teaching yoga tests your faith in higher self. A renowned yoga guru, Sadguru says in one of his talks that lots of fears which we cultivate in our brain and hearts; don’t actually come true. But you can realize and believe it only when you actually face your fears with faith. I was in doubt initially of my teaching skills and yogic knowledge but fears started flying away as I continued teaching even when I was in doubt. A simple example; I didn’t learn riding bicycle during childhood and I was terrified to try it. I tried it with lots of fear on mind–fell off bike at least half dozen times but finally could ride it successfully.