Well, I taught with the story from the post for inspiration for a class on Friendliness on Sunday morning. It was a lovely class and theme for a beginning of the year practice with quite a few new friends joining our normally quite tight group.
After class some of my longtime lovely students commented to me that they couldn't believe that I'd thought and behaved that way. They couldn't believe it was me. Well, flatter me not, if refusing to move my mat over was the worst I'd ever done I might be a pretty amazing person, but believe me I am certainly no saint. I have thought, said, and done much worse in my life.
Their comments got me thinking about two things:
First, it reminds me how much we put our teachers on pedestals. I mean, I absolutely know I have Todd and Ann so high up I could never ever reach them. But they handle themselves so graciously and with so much humility it's hard not to believe they are absolute saints in living an honest and engaged life. It makes me a uncomfortable to believe that others could be holding me up in their minds the way that I hold up my own teachers.
I've been reading Christina Sell's My Body is a Temple recently. In the chapter on guru and spiritual authority she quotes philosophy teacher Carlos Pomeda giving some good questions to ask in choosing a teacher. Here's what he has to say:
"What's the person's pedigree? Who was/were their teachers? How long have they trained? How much have they practiced and how deeply? Most importantly, what is their level of inner experience? Have they dived into the depths of their own being? What have they learned? How much have they studied? How much experience do they have in guiding others? Finally, how do they live? Do their lives reflect their beliefs and teachings, or do they say one thing and do something completely different? Are they happy and fulfilled individuals?"
Whew! Well, that's largely how I choose a teacher. And, it's a lot to live up to if I want to truly truly be the kind of teacher I aspire to be.
And so, of course, I'm weeding out the habits that exist from the time when I was less invested on this path of yoga, habits from before I even knew the path. And am doing it as best I can, but to be honest I hope my students reserve the pedestal and know I am most certainly as human as they come. Struggles and all. I'm just doing my best to engage with the path, not to run away from it. And now especially I am making the shift into making my life off the mat match to the life I strive for on the mat.
Secondly, the comments my students made about me point to how effective this specific path of Anusara yoga actually is. The point of Anusara yoga is to teach people how to engage in their lives effectively in a real true way. The reasons to practice Anusara yoga are to remember our Divine Nature and to take delight in and celebrate that remembrance. In my opinion, Anusara yoga is designed to get you into your heart and keep you there as much as possible.
The path into teaching Anusara yoga includes Immersion and Teacher Training and takes a minimum of about 2 years to get to just the entry level of Inspired teaching. The immersion and teacher training set up of at least 200-hours of in depth study of Anusara, and the in depth practice in Anusara plus the years of practice in regular classes actually work. This yoga works. It is scientifically designed to shift not only the body, but the whole being on every level. The result is continuous transformation. At least, that has absolutely been my experience and the experience of those I've been alongside on the path. Honestly, the yoga works. It doesn't work as fast as instant internet, but it does work. I am absolutely a different person on the inside (and it's starting to show on the outside) than I was when I first started Anusara or yoga at all.
So, I'm glad I'm in it. I'm glad to be on this path and am excited to see what the next steps will be for me, for this sweet kula in Richmond, and for the broader Anusara community. To any students who think I'm more than they could possibly be I say: Keep the pedestal and instead walk this path beside me in humility, humor, and love. Let's keep getting into our hearts together!