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When I get past the concept of one or the other and pay respect to the grey area my path as a teacher becomes very clear.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST TALI KOZIOL
I have two amazing teachers one in the Iyengar style and one in Vinyasa. They’re so incredibly different. They use different words to cue and describe the asana and they fall into different areas of our local yoga community. They both have qualities I want to possess and when I decided to embark on my initial teacher training a naïve part of me thought I would come out teaching just like one of them. Though which one, well, that I didn’t know.
That alone tells you something about my personality.
I used to be quite stuck in the idea that things were this OR that, black OR white, right OR wrong. So I struggled in my first half of my teacher training. Not with the concepts or embodiment, but with the fact that Shannon, my Vinyasa instructor, was so different from Shelly, my Iyengar teacher.
Then there was also the loyalty factor. The question of did I have to have one true teacher or could these two different teachers both me my guides in the same way?
Beyond ideas of right and wrong, there is a field
I made it through my 200 hour program and began to really find my own practice when I found comfort in the revelation that I don’t have to be loyal to just one or the other.
I respect my teachers both deeply and they both have given me such amazing guidance, support, and tools to be a better student and teacher. As I began to teach I definitely didn’t teach just like Shannon with whom I completed my teacher training, but I also didn’t teach just like Shelly my private instructor for three years now. I am a hybrid, a teacher who draws from both.
So when I began to dive into The Conversation, my 300 hour program with Shannon, I had to get very clear with myself. Studying in a closed group for eighteen months is an amazing opportunity and also an easy way to throw on the blinders if I wanted. I am surrounded in our classes by so many people with such a strong, gorgeous and highly athletic practices. Regardless of how my teachers talk about finding my own niche, regardless of how I know that’s what I need to do, it can be easy to let that fall away when you’re in the company of this caliber.
Being daunted gives way to daring to be real
It would be easy for me to sit back and look at this room and this high-level of embodied asana and think “Okay, to be successful you have to be just like these teachers”. So many of them are freakishly strong and graceful, who wouldn’t want to emulate those qualities? However, that’s the old me, thinking you have to be “this or that”. Once I began to talk with these teachers, my peer students; I realized they all have so much more to offer than pure athleticism.
They are all developing their niche and evolving into their own teachers.
Once I put aside the idea that I had to be at a certain level of athleticism before I could be a great teacher I went back to the concept of being a hybrid. What was it from Shelly and Shannon that spoke to me on such a deep plane? More important, what is it that made me want to teach yoga? Simple.
Yoga empowers me to seek an active life, to tend to myself, to nurture myself, and to build better relationships. So simple, so easy. Yoga gives me Empowered Rejuvenation.
Birth of a personal teaching style
There it is.
That is my major. My area of focus, my specialty, my niche is Empowered Rejuvenation. I am working to pull from Shelly, Shannon, and other resources of development while never forgetting to ask myself “Why did I want to teach yoga?”. I teach because I want to share the same gifts yoga has given me.
When I get past the concept of “one or the other” and pay respect to the grey area and the life yoga has awarded me it becomes very clear. It begs the question … did I choose my major or did it choose me?
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.