MY "BEST" PRACTICE BY GUEST BLOGGER LAURA MILLS
December 1, 2101 My "Best" Practice? By Laura Mills, in the words of a New Yoga Teacher
When I was little, someone I admired advised me to achieve two objectives with my future: first, I must choose an endeavor that brings me happiness; and second, no matter what the endeavor, I must be my very best at it. Very shortly after I began teaching yoga, I knew this particular role model would be proud, for no endeavor of my past had shown me so much joy. But even now, more than six months into my teaching experience, the second objective trails a question mark.... Am I truly the best yoga teacher I can be at this point? And if not, how can I become so?
It's not a question of spending more time on class preparation. A yoga teacher can literally spend every moment sequencing poses and developing themes. Realistically, of course, that can't happen--and at this point, I believe I've found a place at which I reasonably weave together yoga teaching and practice with the other strands that together form my complete life, including the eating and sleeping, errands and chores, writing and reading, and other pursuits with which I enrich my time.
If I'm already reading, then, perhaps I should read more about yoga and yoga-related topics. Material abounds, for sure; one of the first things that struck me about teacher training, in fact, was the amount of reading material. Books about the fundamentals of yoga poses and the teaching of them, books on yogic philosophy, books on human anatomy, books on how to incorporate yoga into life off the mat...I confess that even now, six months after teacher training's end, I have yet to make my way through every last page. But even after I complete my first pass through this resource library, much more will remain to be read. Not long ago, for example, at a local bookstore I spotted shelf after shelf of translations of the Yoga Sutras (all different from the three I already own), the Upanisads, and the Bhagavad Gita, as well as books on different styles of yoga, yoga for various ailments and ages, and others. Yes, keeping the pages moving will always be an option.
But really, even while a stack of still-unread yoga books is never far away, I know that yoga-in-writing is really only a small part of what's left for me to learn. The more yoga I practice and the more yoga I teach, the more I feel as if I stand only at the beginning of a path that stretches infinitely ahead. Just connecting with other teachers and students teaches me new lessons all the time, like there's always one more way to sequence a class, one more way to incorporate a theme, one more reason why people come to yoga in the first place, and one more inspiration that brings them back class after class. In six months of teaching I have yet to leave the studio with the same mind with which I entered; at the very least, after every class I am strengthened in my knowledge that I don't know all that exists to know about yoga. And that I never will.
And actually, now that I think about it, perhaps keeping this very point at heart--with the greatest humility and the firmest commitment to yoga as a lifelong practice--is the essence of truly being my very best at this endeavor. Yes, I can continue putting my efforts into preparing classes, and I can pursue yoga-related reading whenever time allows. But I can also reaffirm my intention again and again to embrace my own studentship, letting myself just BE TAUGHT as life as a yoga teacher and everything else that I am unfolds. I can keep my heart open to the practice with the faith that, no matter how long I've been teaching, yoga will always have something left to teach me.