Do you notice how even in stressful times, even when everything seems impossible, there can be one very special thing for which to be grateful? Or even with a class, workshop, training in yoga practice, and instructor training, how even if the investments of attending seem to not make it worth it, you can come away with one thing that radically propels your practice and teaching? Seeing this way is an exercise in keeping broader perspective. Such wider vision can help us feel more peaceful and content, as we continue learning along the way. As Patanjali wisely advised, "effort towards steadiness of mind is practice" (The Yoga Sutras I.13).
In our busy modern lives, logistics can be complicated and to-do lists long, but time and money short. Yoga instructors are not immune to this condition. Yes, we can be fortunate enough to make very decent wages and have chunks of time in between classes to attend to personal matters (when not preparing for our classes, training, and engaged in our own practices). On the other hand, at times in our lives we live on the run, scrambling to make a living with teaching and perhaps other jobs. Our time and money can feel precious.
We might invest some of those scant resources in workshops or classes, and come away feeling disappointed. Perhaps the style and philosophy of the teacher didn't resonate with us, or we just weren't ready to receive what it might have had to offer us. If we can re-frame our thinking to focus on one particularly significant thing that we learned, however, that one thing might just be significant enough to shift how we teach for the better. Or, we taught a class/private lesson wherein the energy felt off, and something in us feels disappointed. If we can shift our thinking towards one notable improvement in our teaching, or one special development in a student’s practice, that disappointment can turn into contentment - even joy.
I have a few personal examples of such instances. One time I spent hours traveling to-and-from a studio, because I had heard great things about it. I paid for a pricey drop-in class (it seemed to me then, as a cash-strapped working student). In the class, however, I just didn't recognize anything all that special about the studio and the teaching. In fact, the teacher put forth some cueing and other guidance that I personally didn't (and still don’t) agree with.
Then, about three-quarters of the way through the class, the instructor cued me in a backbend in a way that led me to experience that group of postures in a whole new way. To this day, the cue has revolutionized my back-bending, and the way I teach it. I pushed myself to focus on that, rather than remain frustrated that I invested all that time and money for not much (as it first seemed to me). That allowed me to feel more content and peaceful after the experience, as well as really help that significant thing that I learned stick with me.
Stay tuned, please, dear readers, for a following article going deeper into this topic!