Yes, I teach yoga

I am tired. Tired of constantly defining what I offer as a yoga teacher in negative terms. Yes, I am a yoga teacher, no, I don’t teach hot yoga, fast yoga, or yoga for your butt.

Yoga is now a common term in our language and as such has certain associations that come with it. It is seen as a workout, a purely physical engagement with no connection to any other part of our being or life. I meet someone at a fundraising luncheon and tell her I teach yoga and meditation and she immediately asks if I teach hot yoga. When I simply say “No, I don’t.”,  she shoots back, “You don’t think it’s good?”. This is not what I said, but I now need to go into a whole explanation of what hot yoga is and who might benefit from it and what I teach and how it is distinctly different in theory and execution. And as I speak, her expression glosses over and I have lost her. She wants something simple and quick and that’s not who I am or what I do. That’s not what yoga is. I am a yoga teacher and I am interested in depth and conversation and I am tired.

I am sad. Sad that the term ‘yoga teacher’ has been highjacked and when I tell someone what I do, I not only have to add “and meditation” because meditation is not understood as the beautiful crown jewel of yoga that it is but I have to explain over and over again the depth of what yoga is. Because yoga is seen and experienced by so many as just calisthenics, I am left to describe its various practices and there affects including but not limited to asana and its power to transform all the layers of our being if offered in the larger context of life practices. You would think I would enjoy this in the same way I absolute love teaching these concepts to my students and teacher trainees but it is a struggle to do this day in and day out with strangers who are not necessarily interested in the nuances. Yoga is varied and nuanced and deep just as I am and I am sad.

I am worn out explaining that ‘hatha yoga’ is not a style or class title but, in fact, all physical yoga practices are hatha yoga. So when someone lists for me all the yoga they have tried: hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, flow yoga and restorative yoga. I have to bite my tongue or else brace myself for an incredulous look if I dare to say that all of these are indeed hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is the practice of engaging with this amazing body as a vehicle of expression, insight and presence. It can be a beautiful portal to touch not only the living tissues but the wild and creative mind as well as the sweet and potent heart. Hatha yoga is the book title and all the various brands and types are the creative chapters. I am worn out offering explanitory notes for all this.

Yes, I teach yoga: asana, pranayama, chanting, meditation, and so much more. I offer the practices of presence and embodiment and love. I encourage people to reclaim their bodies in a positive and sensory way so they can show up for more of their life, their relationships and even their death. I share my struggles to be more compassionate, loving and present, moment to moment, with my students so we can support each other on this journey of life and death. I teach yoga and look forward to the day when I don’t balk at telling this to a stranger and we can then dive into a juicy conversation about the transforming gifts of the various yoga practices and the challenges and joys of the ongoing practice of Life.

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  1. […] are long-time standing teachers like Elizabeth Rainey making statements like […]

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