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I want to be a yoga teacher

November 13, 2010

This afternoon a friend asked me if I was certified to teach yoga. Funny — I’d only darkened the door of her studio a handful of times, and not shown any special prowess. Modestly, I answered no. We were in the small cafe where I seem to be a lot lately, seeing as I have so many important things to do and errands to run I have no time to cook, let alone do yoga.  If she knew how many times I’d frequented that cafe lately for biscuits and quiche she would not have asked.  I am not — these days — the yoga type. She said they were desperate for qualified teachers since the number of people wanting to practice yoga had far outstripped the number of available teachers and the teacher/student ratio was beginning to look like public school in the early grades.  It’s an aspirational thing, this yoga.

The next day in the restaurant I saw another friend who has recently become a yoga teacher enjoying a post-practice bite with a student. Both were glowing. The new teacher thanked me for introducing me to the old teacher, who’d invited her to lead a class and see how she liked it. She was so busy teaching these days she hardly had time to meditate anymore. I nodded empathetically. She would have to go away next year for a month and just hone her special practice and get in touch with herself.  I said I knew what she meant.

I said I’d been meaning to get back to class for about six months but that things kept coming up: birthdays, dogfights, breakfast, homework, dishes, hangnails, business, laundry, emails, arguments, meetings, long baths, you name it. I had a feeling I was on the wrong trajectory. I had a feeling I’d be better off on the yoga trajectory, busy as it seemed for those who were on it.  Forget training assembly line workers to be nurses; they should be training them all to be yoga teachers, and shipping them out to sleepy resort towns to open studios. If I could just find my outfit. I had a lovely pair of yoga pants somewhere. That’s not the name for them; there is a more technical term, which I’m sure will come to me as soon as I find the pants. They are made of special high-performance material that wicks away the moisture and fits like sausage casing. If you refer to them as sweats you mark yourself as hopelessly unhip.  You may as well be riding in a Greyhound, listening to an eight-track of Neil Diamond’s greatest hits.

I could wear the transitional pants, the kind they sell in a yoga store but promise you they are OK to wear on Saturday errands, even on weekdays.  You know, from the studio to the street. They don’t scream: look at me, I just did a handstand in a hot, crowded room and felt all the toxins leave my body. They don’t yell: I am svelter and more serene than thou.

As I thought about it while lingering over coffee, it’s not enough just to go to class. There are so many trainings available, and so many people who seem to need it, and the old people who’ve taught yoga for a lifetime are so incredibly sexy and cosmopolitan, there really seems to be no good argument for not — if one has the time — becoming a yoga teacher.  I don’t have a halter — I don’t think I’m the type to wear a halter.  In the meantime I’m hoping this vintage concert T-shirt and chaturanga capris will do.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Matt Nicodemus permalink
    November 13, 2010 9:51 pm

    Michele, I think of Natalie Goldberg, trying to decide whether to more deeply immerse herself in Zen meditation, spending regular weekends and weeks in retreat. Her teacher then told her that for her, writing was her meditation, and that she should continue doing that. Please don’t do anything that’s going to seriously reduce the amount of yourself that you give to this practice which you do so well and is obviously of such benefit to you and the rest of us, your readers. My sense is that yoga classes are a very good thing for you, just like every-other-day swimming is very important for me, but becoming a teacher of others would be a whole different can of worms for us, worms whose squiggling and squirming could very well, and with only good intention, get in the way of what we each most need to be doing and expressing. Of course, if employment as a yoga teacher will provide essential income, that’s something that has to be considered. But those worms, they do move around so (have you ever seen a knot of them in a vermiculture composting bin?), and, as your friend was saying, they so often call practitioners to spend great amounts of time, travel, and money to ‘return to the river’s source’ and deepen their understanding and skills.

    Maybe I’m taking this whole essay of yours too literally and seriously, Michele. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d been so cloddish. But I do want you to know that just as much as the world needs poses and prana to progress, it needs what you offer us every time you set pen to paper (do you still?) or fingers to keyboard, and you’re already a well-developed, teaching master. Now, if you can only work out the income thing….

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