On the Joys of Teaching


One of the students in my ashtanga yoga class today—a devoted practitioner with a serene and gracious presence—asked me in a voice of earnest entreaty: What am I doing wrong? No matter how much I practice, I just can’t seem to do certain poses.

I asked her: How long have you been practicing?

Two years, she told me.

I smiled. You’re doing well. It’s taken me twice as long, practicing nearly everyday, to get to where I am—and I still have a long way to go.

You practice everyday? Another student asked, aghast.

Six days a week, for the last year, I said. And every other day in the three years before that. It’s all about practicing—and never losing heart. Even when you think you’re getting nowhere. Especially when you think you’re going nowhere.

They nodded then, satisfied and reassured. And for the nth time, I was profoundly grateful for the years of struggle, and for the ability those years had given me to look my students in the eye and say: It’s okay. I know what it’s like. You will get stronger and better. I know, because it happened to me. So be patient—and acknowledge yourself for how far you’ve come.

It’s on days like this that I remember all over again why I fell in love with this practice—and why I decided to become certified to teach it.

So to my students this afternoon—B., B., G., J., and L.—thank you for the reminder. You were my teachers this afternoon.

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