Toward the end of 2011, I was knee-deep in the “I-don’t-have-any-time-for-myself” game. So one of my New Year’s resolutions was to start practicing yoga as much as I teach it (i.e., take two classes a week). I wanted to put an end to the brief flashes of dread I was experiencing on my way to teach my yoga classes. I no longer wanted to rattle clumsily through sequences in my head as I sat in rush hour traffic, thinking about the end goal: “Namaste. Thanks for coming!”
Those moments in which I felt as those my yoga teaching gig was “just a job” nagged at me. How could this be?! How could I not be fully present in the moment but expect that of my students? How could I ask them to meditate if I hadn’t meditated in over a month? Was I…dare I say it…a yoga hypocrite?!?
No. I was human and just guilty of over programming myself. I was giving to others without taking any for myself. I was also giving myself something to complain about. Worst of all, I was hanging out with my old “painbody” (as Eckhart Tolle calls it)…that smug and uncommunicative Sam Spade character who used to live inside my head and who occasionally stops by every now and then to say, “Why hello there, stranger.”
A lot of teachers are guilty of “burning out” at one point or another. We may even start to feel like a vehicle, nothing more than a robotic hub where knowledge is absorbed, processed, and transferred to others. We drain ourselves. We become uninspired. As Chris, a yoga teacher from Northampton, MA, said to us in class yesterday, “We run out the clock on the front end.” Wait a sec. Didn’t “running out the clock” mean keeping the ball away from the opponent? Precisely. Unbeknownst to us, we become our own opponent and we run the clock out on ourselves. Game. Over. Running out the clock (i.e., not taking action/not practicing) is clearly cheating ourselves. It’s cutting short the play, truncating a chance to be inspired, eliminating the possibility that we can learn more in order to teach better.
In the end, we learn that practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes us whole. It teaches us to meet frustration with patience. It brings us peace with the knowledge that there is always something to work on, always something to improve upon, and always something to take us to the next level.