What we love about happiness is the idea of it, the idea of attaining it. We dream of and imagine what happiness looks and feels like. We convince ourselves that our lives would be so much better if we were happy, or happier, but what does this even mean? What makes someone truly happy? Do you know what makes you happy? Aren’t I supposed to be happy, because I teach yoga? I am — but not all of the time; remember, I’m just like you.
When someone thinks of a yoga teacher, they imagine a calm spirit. They might also imagine an uber-liberal vegan hippie, which in some cases is true, but in general, people view yoga teachers as an image or “ideal” of happiness. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because it’s motivating and inspiring to be around people who are happy, even if it is just perceived.
What I’m getting at is there’s an idea that a yoga teacher is supposed to have everything figured out. It’s as if they’re the prime example of someone who is put together, focused, kind, and a present minded being. I would venture to say that I am some of those things, but not all of the time. And you know what? This is EXACTLY why I am a yoga teacher.
Each time I step onto my mat or suggest someone else step onto theirs, I am reminding myself to try to be the above things — to try to be happy — and to actually be happy, at least in that moment. Being a yoga teacher holds me accountable. If you’ve ever had a good teacher, of any kind, you know this feeling, because your teacher has held you accountable.
Together, a teacher and student create a relationship of accountability. They remind each other that you should always do your best, and not just for yourself, but for others. This mutual accountability is powerful. It acts as a catalyst for change and can significantly contribute to greater happiness.
A yoga teacher is a reminder and model for being kind and patient to oneself. They (should) encourage focus, present minded-ness and self acceptance. If the teacher strives to be the best and happiest they can be, the students do the same.
So, I teach yoga because it reminds me that my actions impact others, and that actions are powerful. I teach yoga because my students hold me accountable and because I am reminded to do my best. Doing your best creates fulfillment, creates happiness.
Whether you’re a teacher or student, you’re still human, and this means that it’s difficult to your best all of the time. You are not happy all of the time; you’re not perfect. If you’re like me, you have flaws, you make judgments, and are impatient at times. You’re concerned how you look and feel; you’re sensitive. Admitting these things and doing your best to accept them is the most important (and honest) thing you can do.
Just because I teach yoga does not mean I’m perfect. I struggle too.
Ask yourself what things you sometimes struggle with. Rather than allow a hundred questions come to mind about why you’re that way, or how you can change or want to be, remind yourself that those things make you who you are. To be a better version of yourself, you must digest the idea (or at least try) that this is you. It is ok to struggle. It is ok to be unhappy sometimes. It is okay to allow yourself the space to be human, and to be uniquely you.
As you are uniquely you, remember, though, to do your best — or at least remember that once a yoga teacher told you to try.