Teaching Without Shame: Letting Authenticity Win

I'm in love. I'm in love with the way that my yoga practice makes me feel physically, mentally, emotionally. Listening to the natural rhythm of my breath and experiencing total body awareness is powerful. The practice is unconditionally accepting, forgiving, and allows screw ups sans judgment. Vulnerability happens on the mat. Growth happens on the mat. These things are certain.

Teacher training in Vermont brought a different perspective to my practice. Taking my passion to the next level: learning how to translate the practice to others. Anatomical nuances and philosophical sutras. 200+ hours, Saturdays all day 'til I was done. Read, write, chant, practice, learn, practice, laugh, repeat in whatever order. The studio was always warm and smelled of Cedar or Nag Champa. Hugs aplenty, compassion thick. Friendly faces always learning with me, feeling confused with me, being vulnerable with me. Then one October Saturday it all ended: I cried as Kathy presented my graduation mala + certificate and the group om'ed three times. Goodbye, comfortable nestChallenges, vulnerability, growth = not over. 

Moving back to Michigan encouraged some re-arranging and re-evaluating of priorities. The "ME" that I was able to find and fall in love with in Vermont wanted to make decisions. So I created a blog, kept in touch with my Vermont self, stuck with my passion, let it evolve. Grad school came and went all the while practicing, writing, keeping all things yoga close to my heart. Back to Marquette, inspired but fearful. Too many hometown connections, too much exposure, too much courage required.  

Started teaching anyway. 

Things happened: 

  • I didn't die.
  • Surprisingly nailed it with my lefts & rights. Hardly any screw-ups. 
  • Found that a good playlist can focus my intention and my energy.
  • Forgot Pyramid on the left side during that one sequence in that one class where we worked the glutes really hard and now everyone is walking around uneven OMG (perseverate, perseverate, perseverate). 
  • Got compliments for teaching a great class. 
  • Learned to say THANK YOU instead of bringing up that one time I forgot Pyramid on the left side. 
  • Laughed like Satan when we did Boat Pose for the 5th time. Not yogic. Crap.
  • Learned that I am my own worst critic.
  • Had lots of people come back. 
  • Had some people not come back.

TEACHING WITHOUT SHAME

Teaching without shame is a practice of it's own. Shame is a state of cognition that resists courage. Shame is like feeling embarrassed except it's more personal because it's self-inflicted. Teaching without shame is detaching from taking it personally. Embracing the differences in all of us. Learning that some teachers are great for some students and some students don't vibe with some teachers. Appreciating that a teacher is always a student. Falling in love with feedback. Teaching with my whole heart. Accepting that teachers are people too and some days are hard and you can't just manifest your way to a good mood. Detaching from self-judgment after a not-so-great class. Showing up again and again. Welcoming my discomfort but being honest and true to the confidence within me. Laughing it off. Sharing my story.

Challenges, vulnerability, and growth are ongoing in life and as a yoga instructor. Without my personal practice, I would struggle to let go of some of thoughts that are rooted in self-judgment and shame. I would never have accepted that cracking jokes and sometimes saying something ridiculous during class is just part of who I am. Shame would continue creeping into my psyche, controlling my thoughts, highlighting my slip-ups. Without continuous self-reflection and growth, shame wins.

When authenticity shines, shame hides. Authenticity sets me free: free to accept that I am me, my classes are me, my personality is me, and the growing is never over. Authenticity and vulnerability create connections. Authenticity keeps people coming back. Let it be my intention to teach and practice with authenticity, passion and drive. Let authenticity win.