It’s Saturday, 10:53am PT and I am freaking out.
“Just breathe,” he tells me.
“Breathing is for people for people who can’t get what they want!” I snarl.
In the beginning, he only liked me, I think, because I was a yoga teacher. Because I was writing blog posts about self-awareness and discovery and because I was generally calm and a good listener. Because I gave advice about how to live with yourself.
This is all stuff that Yoga teachers do. But the reason that they know how to teach it is probably because they had to learn it for themselves. Behind every Yoga teacher telling you to sit with the discomfort is a desperate woman (or man) tearing her/his hair out (maybe literally) because nothing seems to be going right.
I tell people this all the time when they say, “shouldn’t she be happy/calm/peaceful/loving? She’s a Yoga teacher?” I always say, “She didn’t become a yoga teacher because she was happy. She became a yoga teacher because there was something she needed to fix.”
For example, Ana Forrest, one of the most renowned Yoga teachers in the world, just published a book that is partially autobiographical called Fierce Medicine, in which she offers advice on using yoga to heal from addictive behaviors, eating disorders, and physical and psychological abuse.
Remember, she is the best of the best. Of course, she’s “healed” now, but if she’s like any other Yoga teacher you know, she’s still a human being - and grapples with everything that made her who is she today.
Of course, not every yoga teacher has come from a past as dark as Forrest’s. But the reality is that everyone (yes - even you!) has problems. Big problems, gross problems, and annoying problems. People who choose to pursue yoga are the kind of people who wanted to fix them, thus are very aware of them. That means that a) they don’t try to hide them and b) they sometimes still make mistakes.
For example another famous teacher, Elena Brower, told Yoga Journal this month that after growing up in a family of hot-tempered folks, she still works hard not to completely lose her sh*t at her young son. What makes Brower a yogi is not that she was able to stop herself from screaming at her son and threatening to leave him at a grocery store, (she did that) but rather that she realized her error, and was able to apologize, explaining her behavior and why it was inappropriate.
At the end of the day, pretty much the only kind of Yoga teacher you should be really worried about is the kind that pretends that everything is FINE. They are lying. Period.