I clearly remember that day when after finishing my yoga teacher training, I was given the opportunity to teach a class at a local yoga studio.
Right before the class began, the following words resonated in my mind like thunder. Even after years later, I can still hear these words now.
“I have no f*cking clue what to do.”
Looking back now, I laugh, but back then, I wanted to hide under the face of the earth.
Twenty-something people were waiting for me to take them through some kind of “experience.” And I guess I did. Because since that day in 2005, I never stopped teaching.
I also remember the realization upon completing my training: the human body is a miracle. And through a yoga school, we just barely scratch the surface.
I knew where my students’ bones were positioned in their bodies, but that’s about it. I graduated as a yoga teacher at a time when touch was not only encouraged in a yoga class, but also expected.
I felt so inadequate with the use of touch in my yoga classes. But I knew that it was a selling point in becoming a successful yoga teacher that I wasted no time, and within three months of finishing my yoga teacher training, I was enrolled in a year-long massage therapy training so that I would be able to perfect the art of touch.
And of course, as the years went by, and I felt comfortable with touch, I learned more about mental health, trauma, body image, and other fascinating topics while understanding that the human body is not only a miracle, but that each one of us is a miracle with different qualities, and not everyone, for whatever reason, needs touch or wants to be touched, adjusted, or put into a posture in order to feel the benefits of a shape or satisfy the need of a teacher, guru, lineage, ideology.
I think that as a teacher, I learned more from the mistakes I did in my classes than from the trainings I had taken. I learned more from listening to my students and my clients than from following certain trends and gurus. I learned more from listening to my intuition than from favoring alignment over connection.
I learned more in the past 15 years from seeing my students not as clay waiting to be molded into whatever shape I propose, but as human beings who are connected to their breath, within a supportive community that uses movement as meditation and an anchor to alleviate the struggle of everyday life.
Since taking my teacher training and as the years pass by and my desperation from not knowing what was under the skin that motivated me to become a massage therapist, my journey has been so rewarding.
These days, after years of teaching in hospitals, shelters, jails, and schools, I can say that I enjoyed helping others become the teachers I wished I had. A teacher who sees with eyes of compassion, who understands that whoever shows up in their class is not necessarily walking in to be changed, but to be seen, heard, and acknowledged.
A teacher who knows that everyone who walks through a real studio door, or a virtual one, has a past, a story—and many times a painful one—and many come to this practice to ease the demands of everyday life.
In particular, these days, many of us feel encouraged to practice yoga online because it is less intimidating, while others are ready to make the decision of taking care of their physical health, mental health, and to find effective ways to reduce stress.
More increasingly, yoga teachers will become important only if they can understand the unique needs of society. Only if they can turn toward the different segments of society: the young, the adult, and the mature.
I like to refer to yoga as the tree that keeps on giving.
And I like to be part of this tree by helping other teachers find their voice and become the yoga teachers of the future. The ones who are fearless, unconditioned, and ready to make the world a better place.