Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Doldrum Soliloquy --- Day 196

Walk: R/T Kabuki Theater (Magic Mike)
Distance: 2 miles and teach yoga class

Maybe it is mid-summer doldrums, but today I wonder about whether to stop teaching.  Then there would be nothing... except the emerging 'next thing.'

It's not the income, although the whole way money works in the yoga teaching world is confounding, often depressing.  What you are there to impart is physical, yes, but also spiritual. Yoga philosophy/spirituality is an integral part of yoga practice.  So, I am part yoga 'guru' in the ancient Eastern sense along with being a movement-based class leader in the (increasingly athletic) Western sense. So, what I have to pass on is Huge, and extremely absorbing on and off the mat.  It is safe to say yoga is always on my mind.  Each class/student presents new questions about anatomy, personal life issues and schedules, dealing with injuries and illnesses, or why I do or do not include certain things in my classes.  For instance, many come for chanting or dietary advice or very technical understandings of very 'advanced' poses - and I do not concentrate on these things.  I/every good yoga teacher can only teacher with authenticity; they can only really pass on what they deeply know and resonate with.  That's part of the spirituality really.  I could chant I guess, but it would be hollow, just the shell of chanting, and the student would be cheated.  And so would I because I would essentially be pandering or, in the Western sense, co-dependent.

So there are myriad on-going, deep, imperfect decisions always to be made.  The task is infinite so, on a good day, you feel like you've tapped into and passed on that sense of the transcendent infinite - and on a bad day, you feel deeply inadequate because there is so much and you could only offer so little.  There are many, many bad days - even when students are really happy with the classes and come regularly, I carry deep sadness/emptiness that something always is missing.

What is missing too is real world connection.  Maybe in offices people have 'networks' of people, work 'families' and friends to do things with after work or to share work gossip and gripes with.  Not so for the yoga teacher.  For one (big) thing we work alone, maybe passing other teachers as we come and go from our studios or offices or private venues where we teach.  Even if we talk, it is surface talk as all our concerns and student-teacher relationships are personal, private and actually spiritual.  The student-teacher relationship is essentially sacred even in our contemporary Western culture.  And this adds to the lack of 'yoga family and friends' because it simply doesn't really work (or is very rare) for students and teachers to be friends.  What both student and teacher are there for is not friendship - something more vast is meant to go on.  As I say, sacred. 

But we're no longer living in a society where spiritual guides live separately in places like ashrams and are supported by society.  (I might add, a personal 'Yay' on that).  But then there is the 'new' business of yoga teachers/spiritual guides/sacred personages being people living at large and needing to support themselves like everyone else who works for a living.  And at present, the money is non-sensical.  Yoga teachers for the most part get paid around $4.50 a student, can't predict their income due to variable class size, must pay their own medical, liability insurance and taxes.  When they are sick or on vacation, it is on their own dime.  And they need to keep growing their own practices so face expenses for their own yoga classes, retreats, trainings. Teachers who have 'quit the day job' are under constant pressure to build classes, give workshops, promote, hustle, hustle, hustle. Without community.   Really, it's a (rewarding) mess with the benefits of constantly living at your edge, growing and helping people, but it's also physically challenging/depleting, depressing and isolating.

You can't imagine the attachments to your students and your teaching though.  There's a huge, deep Tug between you and virtually every one of them.  In some ways stopping teaching is literally unthinkable. Unthinkable. It's a smoo you can't wrap your brain/being around.

So, what to do?

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