T-minus 5 days until we leave Colorado. The apartment is almost empty, our things have been either sold or shipped, the car is being packed and most of our loose ends have been tied up. After being in Boulder, CO for two years, I am ready to find somewhere else to call home. For me, this has been an imperative period of growth and transition in my life. As expected, attending Naropa University was transformative, but so was teaching yoga, and for reasons I did not anticipate.
Yoga plays such an important role in my life and it took me teaching in this community to figure out exactly why. I moved here without any intention to teach yoga, especially after hearing that the industry was extremely competitive. After only 4 months, however, I weaseled my way into two well known studios. I like to refer to this point in time as the beginning of the end.
I fell madly, deeply, in love with teaching yoga, more than I ever have before. If you don't know me, I cherish simplicity, am grounded and authentic to the point of fault. It is these qualities that make me a great yoga teacher and exactly why I have flourished in this industry. As with all things, however, there is a shadow side to teaching yoga and it is directly related to ego.
My relationship with yoga began almost a decade ago with the purest of intentions. I was living in my hometown in Upstate New York and really feeling the emptiness that is so often a result of our social conditioning. I was in my early twenties and deeply unfulfilled by my path in life. During one particularly unfulfilling run at the local YMCA I stumbled upon an article in Seventeen on the benefits of yoga and meditation. I wish I saved that article because looking back I believe it changed the course of things. Soon after I attended my first yoga class and it's still hard for me to describe this experience, but I was definitely hooked. I bring this up because the thing I remember the least about this experience was the physicality of the class. I do, however, remember sitting on the edge of my seat listening to the teacher's dharma talk. I remember her presence, which felt supportive and safe, my first attempt to meditate and of course, my very first Savasana, which was pure bliss.
I mourn the loss of these experiences by new and seasoned yogis alike in today's classes. As a yoga teacher in this community I was picked up and swept away by the physicality of yoga, a.k.a. ego. From an outsider's perspective I was excelling as a teacher. Within one year I was teaching regularly at four studios, subbing at three more and managing one. My classes were fast paced, hot and well received. They resembled little of the practice I fell in love with. Looking back, I felt like I was on top of the world and something tells me I am not the only teacher that has felt this way before.
Right around the time I signed up for my 300 hour advanced yoga teacher training, I realized that I was burnt out. Not only was I burnt out with my schedule, but I was burnt out with the practice. In a community that values nothing more than how hot or hard their yoga class is, I had lost my zest for yoga for the first time ever. Fast forward to now, I stopped teaching at the end of May and took a break from attending studio classes, which I was doing almost every day. I have allowed myself to slow down and reignite my home practice, along with tapping into other ways to move my body.
The thing that struck me the most in all of this was how easy it was for me to leave all of these studios. While I did not set out to teach at so many studios, it was almost like an addiction, where one thing is never enough. I think this is where I really got lost, not planting my roots in one particular place. At the same time, this is not particularly encouraged in this community due to an over-saturation of yoga teachers.
I realize that Boulder is not the only community like this and that yoga and our egos have become inseparable on a larger scale. As I said, I love this practice deeply and these experiences have served to show me exactly the teacher I do NOT want to be. This is great news, especially at a time when so many practitioners are questioning what the practice has become and what it will look like in the future.
All of this to say, I look forward to seeing where this next journey, this next chapter takes me. I have learned so many things about myself, but nothing more than what it really takes to be a yoga teacher. It takes finding your truth and being brave enough to stand up for it, even if that goes against the norm.
See you on the East Coast!