I have reason to contemplate the why’s and wherefore’s of my profession. Why did I choose to teach yoga? What do I hope to achieve?
I began my healing journey long. long ago with a single thought: I am not happy where I am. How can I change? At the time I was 18, just going back to high school after a two year hiatus of parties and low-wage jobs and high ideals. Embracing vegetarianism four years earlier with nary an idea of what this might mean for my body (I was much more concerned with ethical eating then), I had gained an enormous amount of weight. Yes, dear readers, a high carb, low protein, low fat diet will make you fat. Or rather, podgy. I was a podgy 175lbs and unhappy about it.
I decided to change and joined the gym – the YMCA to be exact. And I don’t mean once in a while I went to the gym. I went about five days per week, every week, in addition to being a full time student, working in the evenings and moving only on foot and bicycle. I was active and I instigated the change I desired. It took a long time, but I have great faith and even greater willpower. More than anything, I believed myself to be deserving of this attention. I was also scared – my obese father gasping in pain from angina, wired up in the hospital bed after coronary number one, shuffling ever more slowly after heart attack number two, gave me all the motivation I ever needed to try to live a healthy life.
When I “became” a “healer” (masseur), I saw that most of my most faithful clients are the ones most unlike me. Many people who put themselves in the care of alternative health professionals are using this as a substitute for self-care. That’s ok, we’re all on our own journey. But, a part of me could not stop there.
I chose yoga because it is a discipline that demands the student participate fully in her own healing journey. The student is the one who awakens on dark winter mornings to practise. The student is the one who holds the exhale even though fear screams loudly from the depths. The student is the one unafraid to critique himself and his motives, steadily digging out the ego and its tricks. Yoga asks a lot of the student and I chose to teach yoga because I admire those who are willing to take their own lives into their own hands and make the changes necessary. Or, be brave enough to fail doing it.
Yoga as liberation
I see some professionals adopting messianic attitudes. Stick with me and you will be well! This in both allopathic and complimentary medicine. Yoga is the path of liberation. The ultimate goal of the yoga teacher is to make herself redundant. We want to foster a steady home practice, making the student ever freer and more independent. This is why yoga, unlike other disciplines, appeals so much to me, a confirmed libertarian. (I used to be an anarchist, but I like libertarian humanism much more…no violent undertones).
Yoga as liberation makes it dangerous. How so? Well, just as the Vatican objects to the yogic notion that a person can commune with The Divine without the intervention of a priest, some professionals (like physios or doctors or even dare I say it chiropractors) might object to the notion that a person can heal themselves. I don’t actually think that no help is needed. In fact, accepting our common need for interaction and the melding of human energy fields is part of the path of self development. But, the fact that we need human touch doesn’t mean giving up our own healing power.
So, dear souls. Believe in change, be strong enough to pursue it and set yourselves free. Kaivalya.