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Teaching as healing

We are not the authors of all of our thoughts. The inside voices, installed by childhood experiences are not made explicit until they are verbalized by us. That might be in the heat of an argument, when we realize we sound like one of our parents. These programs were installed without our ability to decide if we wanted them, in the same way you downloaded your native language automatically.

Some of these programs are helpful, some of them were traumatic and created an unacknowledged belief about ourselves. "You don't have a good singing voice". "You are so clumsy". These ideas were provided by those that were verbalizing their own obfuscated trauma.

When teaching yoga, there are essentially two forms of language; a) cueing the form of a pose and the actions within it, and b) editorializing about the experience. Here's and example:

"From mountain pose fold forward, inhale gaze ahead and exhale step your right foot back into a lunge. You might feel tightness on the front of the back leg. Breath through it.... good".

The first sentence contains the pose and action cues. The second contains the teacher's own experience.

Articulating your own experience in public without a script is a high-wire act. We don't know what is going to come out of our mouths extemporaneously. Will it be helpful, or will it be the exhaust gasses of a machine built in our childhood from traumatic ideas?

This is why teaching yoga can be so difficult. As we teach others to move in a certain way, we become aware of what was hidden within us - and we have to do both at the same time. The yoga teacher must put the student first, and unpack what we've been saying to ourselves later.

Eventually, it becomes possible to view everything that is revealed through this process as an opportunity to simply see who we are. My own identification as a good person, or as a competent teacher, or as someone who isn't manipulative is questioned. Even my own desire for the outcome of this inquiry to have a certain, positive result is uncovered as yet another form of self-interest.

So this is yoga. This is why it can become more than a physical practice, and this is why it's never become routine to me. The journey doesn't have an end as far as I can see, and that's just

fine with me.

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