When I began to teach yoga I was not the perfect student, but rather a human being striving for the same relief from struggle and cyclical patterns that were keeping my body in disharmony. My best teachers did not poke and prod me, didn’t talk over and through me, but spoke to me through their actions. When I started teaching part-time, I was going through the motions and creating pretty sequences, but I had a lot of internal dialogue, doubt, and residual anger from my past. Was I truly the same person off the mat?
I decided to re-read the Yoga Sutras, and after fully digesting the Yamas and Niyamas I came to understand that to be a great teacher, I must live and lead by example. While reading I came upon a previously underlined passage, and the words struck a chord: “Thus hate is to be won over by love because they are opposite of each other” (Chapter 2 Sutra 33; Way to Remove Disturbances).
In the moments that followed, I chose to leave behind the years where I couldn’t bring myself to wish the best for someone who’d hurt me; it was keeping me down to wish poorly for others. To be rid of the garbage that polluted my soul, I chose love and compassion. I accepted that true growth is loving regardless, and forgiving regardless. The angry, vengeful mind makes it really easy to hold onto hatred and resentment. If someone is no longer in my life there IS reason. I can STILL love that person! I often still send them love, and the more love I send the more I receive- because we are all love in this equation. I’ve practiced alongside friends and students with mostly the same afflictions in different contexts, and I have seen hatred also bring them down and affect their practice. How could I teach in a way that reminded others of their love?
The work began with me – I dug deep to understand the impressions or samskaras left on my mind and spirit – and each day I worked to dissolve them. I continue to work towards becoming total and utter love.
I cannot forcibly change the lives of others, but I will live and lead by example. We can break the cycle together, and be leaders in love. Dig deep, and notice the lack of balance and the lack of love when you continue to imprint anger, tension and stress. Notice all melts away as you begin to trust your soul, forgive yourself for your anger, forgive others for their human tendencies, and allow love to envelop you. The more we send to love to other people, the more we can love ourselves.
Are you willing to step up and lead by example? I am.