Almost eleven years ago now, my sister and I drove down to Carmel, California (I was living in San Francisco at the time) where we decided to have our “charts” read. While I can’t remember the name of the woman who read our charts, I remember two very poignant things about that visit:
1. She told me that I would be a teacher for the rest of my life.
2. She gave me a picture of an angel (which I saved and carried with me as I moved from California to Vermont to Massachusetts to Connecticut.)
I always wondered why those two things have stayed with me over the years. Until now. It’s not a big stretch to say: “I am an educator” (after all, education was my minor in college) but over the years, I’ve made the assumption that my teaching had to be done in the classroom. I now understand that this is not what the “chart lady” meant. While I enjoy being in the classroom, my life’s passion is teaching what I know to help others grow. As Herbert Kohl said in 36 Children, teaching WHO we are is more important than teaching subject matter.
Last week, I was chosen to be an Educator for lululemon, an athletic apparel company that teaches people not only how to improve their lives but how to give back to their communities. It is an exciting opportunity for me to be able to teach to a wider audience about the practice of yoga, not just as a way of sweating and stretching but as a way of exploring our spirituality and purpose in life.
In Yoga International, Natalya Podgorny writes:
The lack of a grounding Yoga philosophy has shrunk Yoga practices to asana. People who regard asana practice as a beautiful set of exercises are definitely benefiting, but only in proportion to what they think asana is all about. They are benefiting on a physical level, but they are not able to apply asana for higher benefits because they don’t know that there are higher benefits. When they have problems related to anger, grief, or depression, it never comes to their mind that Yoga can help, so they look for a cure somewhere else, and the application of their Yoga asana remains confined.
But if they know Yoga philosophy, which tells them that a human being is not body alone, not mind alone, but body and mind together and that our core is pure consciousness—and if they know Yoga practices are designed to lead us to that core—then they will ask, “I’m doing my asanas, so why am I still suffering? Why am I still a person with a negative mind?” Normally, with asana practice, people don’t even think of that. So the philosophy is very important. Without it you are sitting on a pile of gold without knowing it and you go on begging for pennies. When you are grounded in Yoga philosophy you can look for empowerment of your body, breath, mind, and consciousness and everything that constitutes your very existence.
I now understand why I carry that angel around, the one that the “chart lady” gave to me back in November of 1999. It’s a symbol of spirituality, faith, philosophy, God… and it’s entirely connected to her statement that I would be an educator for life.
Over the next day or two, make a point to ask yourself the question: Who Am I? You may be a wife, a daughter, a mother, a coworker…but ask yourself who you are in relation to your life’s passion. Please share! I know that I am an educator, ready to take on a new challenge.