To teach or not to teach?

This is not really the question. Not the real question, that is. However…

I have to admit, I’ve been seriously questioning my desire to become a yoga teacher. In a conversation just the other day I insisted, “There are so many yoga teachers already… and what have I got to add to the mix?” I asked. Then, I answered, “Nothing. I haven’t got anything to add that isn’t already fulfilling the needs of our community.” He tried to tell me I was wrong but quickly gave up the fight and just listened. That’s all I needed at the moment: a sounding board for my self-doubt and insecurity.

I am guessing that self-doubt, to some extent, is normal. Isn’t it?  I mean, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt that my offering was of little to no value to others. On prior occasions, I was 110% off in my self-evaluation. If I had ignored my fears, and abandoned my plans, many would have lost out on account of my deep-rooted fear of not being good enough. I think this is what you would call a samskara, and probably one of my biggest ones.

On all the occasions where the perceived message was one of not-good-enough, the person on the other end always seemed to be asking for more. Although I cannot remember each instance, there have been MANY, I now wonder if I got it all wrong. What if their asking for more wasn’t that my offering wasn’t good enough but, instead, so good that they wanted more of it?

Moreover, how would it be different if my approach to giving wasn’t so tied up in receiving a response of gratitude? How would it be if I could just give without expecting something in return? This concept is indeed different than how we (I) have been brought up where, right from the start, we are taught to say “thank you” for the gifts receive. Don’t get me wrong. Gratitude is a good thing.  I’m simply suggesting that the expectation of “Thank you for dinner, Mom. It is delicious,” can set one up for disappointment and invalidation when preoccupation interferes with the message being delivered – even if the recipient truly was appreciative.

Which brings me back to my offering and teaching…

There is a woman at work who desperately wants to move in the direction of a healthier lifestyle (eating, exercise, etc). However, when her plans to go to the gym fall through, she is so hard on herself that she feels like she has failed before she has even begun. I have been suggesting to her that she alter her view of working out from one of a task that she has to do to a more positive viewpoint that will make her want to go instead of dreading it. Today, she greeted me enthusiastically and proudly announced that she was feeling really good and energetic. “I went to the gym last night, Julie” she said with pride. I smiled and listened as she shared her experience. A few minutes later, I was sharing a few stretches she could use to help alleviate the tightness she was starting to feel from her hard work. I reminded her to protect her spine by pulling into her core when lifting and to BREATHE. I also shared a few core-strengthening exercises she could do at home if, for some reason, she could not make it to the gym. In essence, I was teaching her a bit of yoga.

And, if I was to be perfectly honest, it felt really good to be in a position to share these helpful hints. Maybe I have something to offer after all. Just maybe.

I guess the better question is: When?

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