I quit teaching yoga. After 12 years of trying to make it work. I quit. It's been about three months now. People keep asking me: "do you miss it?" I have to answer honestly, "no." Of course, it's only been three months. Ask me again in a year. Ask me in two years. I didn't miss acting or singing until about 13 years after I quit that.
Weirdly, I feel more involved in the yoga community now than when I was teaching. Granted, I still work for a yoga studio and I have much more time to practice yoga. I've gone back to the teacher I mentored with during my teacher training. I feel more connected to my own practice now. And after having some distance in the teaching world, I feel an objectivity of the "yoga world" that was absent before. Though some might view the following as quite subjective.
One of the things that was always a challenge when I was teaching was marketing myself. When I saw other teachers post videos, pictures, etc. on their Facebook pages and Instagram feeds (or back in the early 2000's, simply websites and flyers), I would feel inferior, due to my lack of desire or motivation to market my teaching in this way. I was also confused. I wasn't judging these people. I just wondered how it worked. Did they set up a camera at just the right angle before doing their morning mantra? Did they do that BEFORE or AFTER the real practice happened? Because that can't be the real practice, right? That is a private experience. Not something you share with the world. At least it always was to me. I just didn't get it. Was there a public yoga persona and a private one? Did these two personas mesh? What was behind the screen, when the person was bleary eyed in early morning meditation, crying when their shit came up? Did the creaky morning joints and uninspired practice come BEFORE the camera came on? Where was the reality?
Maybe it's growing up in the pop and acting worlds. I prefer seeing what's BEHIND the camera versus what the public sees. I like people's REAL stories. I enjoy seeing models with zits and musicians with pain. Grit, sad clowns, dirt beneath fingernails, warts on feet, and yogis that struggle with darkness, and maybe never reach "enlightenment." Or maybe they do and don't need to share it on Facebook.
Everyone has to make a living and I do not begrudge yoga teachers that pose in Lululemon pants and market themselves and become poster children for beautiful asanas with sunset backdrops and inspirational quotes, although I will admit I still don't understand it. Because the teachers I resonate with most are the ones that are so quiet, most people don't know they exist. They may not even make a living teaching, but the people they do teach are profoundly affected. The teachers that have changed my life and practice don't care about my story, my issues, my downfalls, my excuses, my hang-ups. And not because they are not compassionate. No, because they recognize that our practice transcends our story and it is NOT ABOUT US. They recognize that inspirational quotes do nothing if we don't face our darkness, our shadows, or excuses and our own bullshit. The teachers I respect have taught me much more about myself and my practice by barely saying a word, by being humble and quiet and simple and open. Not by preaching or being showy or cute or even inspirational. They don't pander. They don't try to please or make me comfortable. They quietly open the door and allow me to see the practice, as it is, each moment. Their teaching has allowed me to reveal parts of myself I want to hide from, yet know I must face. And they often do this in stark rooms, with no music, wearing grey and black, with messy hair, telling me quietly where to put my foot and when to breathe in and breathe out. Powerful shit.
So, maybe I quit because I wanted to be THAT teacher, but felt stuck in the surface, trying to half-heartedly market myself and be inspirational and make people FEEL something. Maybe I quit because the subtlety of how to teach that way is lost on me and all I saw were people craving experiences. Or maybe I just needed to finally pay my bills. Whatever the reason, I'm happy to watch those that enjoy teaching continue on their path and I can watch from back stage.
Just to play into the fool a little bit, I've included (giant, because, you know, marketing) pictures of me doing yoga "poses." Like really posing in yoga. This was an early attempt to get on the marketing train. I was not breathing and felt pretty weird. Can't you tell?