Yoga With Leo

3 Reasons Why Teaching Yoga Is Uncomfortably Rewarding

Teaching YogaLeo Cheung1 Comment

Length: 6 Minute Read

Now, I love my job of teaching yoga, but there are certainly those days where I don't want to get out of bed. It doesn't matter how many jumping jacks Tony Robbins tells me to do, I can't deny the feeling I have for staying in and getting the breakfast courier to deliver all my meals.

In the long haul though, knowing the reasons why I teach yoga (or do anything) helps to propel me into action and have less of those self-indulgent days. I've discovered (and continue to do so) my reasons for teaching yoga, and the reasons aren't always easy to swallow. 

Peter Parker (aka Spiderman) said that with great power comes great responsibility, and Francis Bacon also said, knowledge is power. So my intelligently well-constructed theory is with greater knowledge of oneself (reasons for doing something) comes a greater responsibility to oneself, the community and the world at large - and if carried out, is rewarding, but long gone are those comfortable days of 4-day weekend TV marathoning. 

I acknowledge that these reasons are mostly for my own personal gain, and that hopefully by working on myself, it may indirectly impact others in a positive way.

1. Teaching Yoga Is A Call for me to Be Present

There are very few things in life where I am 100% focused and present to the task at hand. You may experience this through activities like playing an instrument, cooking a meal, making love or sitting in deep meditation.

When I step into the studio to teach, there is a call for me to be present. Present when I shake a student's hand and ask their name and actually listen and remember who they are. Present with my choice of words and the power of influence I have as a teacher who is granted with authority. The subtle nuances of communication that occurs in the room, what the students want and need, AND don't want and need, is a complex language that calls for my clear, objective observation.

The challenge now is to bring this presence into my classes, each and every time I show up. I am challenged to stay present, even when my mind is consumed by figuring out how to pay for a 30 year mortgage, or containing the excitement of a new relationship, or managing increased levels of stress from sitting in a box with four wheels.

The beauty of cultivating presence in the practice of teaching yoga is I get to bring that into my everyday ordinary life. Am I really listening in a conversation, to not only her words, but also the subtle nuances of what her body and face are telling me? How often am I distracted by the beep bopping buzz of my cellphone? How present am I on the road, to the stop sign, to the cyclist, to the emotions of restlessness and impatience that arise?

The call is to be AWAKE, fully conscious, even if it's to my not-so-pleasant and uncomfortable ways of being.

2. The Act Of Teaching Is An Opportunity To Look At Myself

Aside from looking into the mirror to fix my hair in a hot class, teaching yoga is an opportunity to check in and to take a sharp look at myself and how I am behaving. I look straight into the eyes of my ego and ask:

"Am I saying this out of arrogance or for validation? Am I not saying something that I believe to be important because of fear of rejection or vulnerability?

As a result of teaching yoga, there are numerous things that I've had to take a hard look at. Here are just a few:

  • The insecurity of not being liked by my students
  • The feeling of my work not being good enough
  • The anger, resentment and greed that arises from competition with other teachers
  • The self-aggrandizement that comes from recognition and status as a teacher
  • The panic driven fear of not knowing what the f*ck I'm doing (am I just making shit up?)

I'm grateful to experience these things on the teacher's mat, because the lessons learned there is what's also needed at the doormat of my home.

  • The insecurity of not being liked as a partner, friend or lover
  • The feeling of my Self not being good enough
  • The anger, resentment and greed that arises from wanting more from life
  • The self-aggrandizement that comes from "winning" in life
  • The panic driven fear of not knowing what the f*ck I'm doing with my life, I'll just make shit up, appearing to others like I've got it all together.

I often tell the students I mentor, that by being a yoga teacher, I've become a much more serious student. Never did I imagine that teaching yoga would have such an impact on my life, and this is what motivates me to continue down this path.

My teacher, Michael Stone so wisely said (something like this...) - "Your yoga mat is never rolled up", and that always stuck with me.

3. Making friends with Resistance

Resistance and I haven't always been friends. We're starting to get along, but don't get me wrong, we still have our fist fights and childish quarrels, but now I'm more apt to have a civil conversation and tell Resistance to shut the f*uck up!

Steven Pressfield, author of War of Art, writes poetically about the force of resistance that occurs when pursuing anything from a work of art, a commitment to a spiritual practice or carrying out an entrepreneurial project. Every living being experiences resistance, and it's no fun to bump heads!

What Pressfield suggests is that when resistance (fear) shows up, its a telling tale to go forth and embrace it.

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

If your stomach churns when you're at the front of the room doing a demonstration, then you may have drank too much the night before, or resistance is being a bugger and telling you "who do you think you are?"

If I listened to my fears, you certainly wouldn't be reading this blog post, nor would I have achieved anything of value. Overcoming resistance isn't so much as to prove to myself that I can do it, and have trophies on the wall of all my accomplishments. It's a recognition that I am of worth, and to respond to the self-critics questioning of "who do you think you are?" -

"well....I'm a HUMAN BEING, GOD-DAMMIT, and I'm free to be me!"

Want to create confidence and overcome Resistance? - Click here