Dispelling The Myth of the Spiritual Yoga Guru
I recently read a comment stating that you can’t teach a spiritual life unless you practice it. But what does it mean to practice a spiritual life and when do you actually achieve this state? Spiritual in comparison to what?
Yoga teachers are human, too, and I’m going to argue that I’m in a much better position to teach a spiritual life, because I have been to hell and back. I relate to my students because I know how it is when the monkey mind won’t shut up, and you can’t pay your bills, have major relationship issues, or actually stop breathing. Let’s face it - life is tough for all of us. Just because I’m a yoga teacher doesn’t mean I don’t have life struggles and I’m suddenly above it all.
There’s a certain stereotype about yoga teachers that just isn’t accurate. We are not all granola-eating, tree-hugging, spiritual giants conquering the world through our yoga poses and meditation practice. I will admit that I am personally a vegetarian and enjoy hemp cereal occasionally (no, THC is not an additive). However, I became a yoga teacher solely to share my love for yoga with others, not due to my lifestyle or personal choices. I am the first to admit that my draw to yoga is because I need it. I sometimes find my life unmanageable and yoga helps me get through each day.
Now, I can’t speak for all yoga teachers, but I will speak for myself, and I know there are others out there like me who don’t fit the yogi stereotype or conciously choose not follow the stereotype. So, I'm going to dispel a few yoga myths for you:
I’m not a spiritual guru.
Just because I have a yoga certification, doesn’t mean I’m holier than thou. Sometimes I get upset, pissed off, and forget to breathe. I struggle through life just like non-yoga teachers. I have to remind myself about spiritual principles that I tend to forget often. I’m constantly learning and growing. I don’t believe I will ever reach a point of spiritual guru, but the point is that I’m striving for it. For me, spirituality is not about being afraid of going to hell, but for people that have been there.
I don’t know everything about yoga.
Yes, I said it. I don’t know everything, nor will I ever claim to know everything. There is so much to learn about yoga and life in general, so I continue to strive for more. I do make a conscious effort to educate myself and be the best yoga teacher I can be. What I do know is how to teach yoga and how yoga has helped me personally. I learn something new every day and what makes me a good teacher is that I’m a good student.
I don’t have a perfect diet.
I became a vegetarian post yoga school and breast cancer. My personal reasons were mostly due to medical and spiritual choices, but a large portion was because meat started to gross me out. I used to be able to eat chicken and milk just fine, but now it feels very heavy. I can’t say that I have the perfect diet, but I do make a conscious effort, especially for medical reasons. My guilty pleasures are the occasional Mexican food (I’m a California girl through and through!), and definitely chips and salsa. You may see me with my power smoothie one morning complete with spinach and chia seeds, while the next evening I’m sneaking off for some Taco Bell. So, now you know.
I don’t have Pandora channel set to only Krishna Das music.
My musical taste is actually quite broad. You may catch me listening to Pearl Jam, MC Yogi, Rebelution, or maybe a little Eminem. It really all depends on my mood. When I was living in New York City, I taught a Punk Rock Yoga class to the Long Island Roller Rebels team, for which my sister plays. Lately I’ve been on a MC Yogi kick and he’s my new hero. The fact that he rhymes about yoga and spirituality is pretty awesome.
I will admit it’s probably a dream of mine to wear yoga pants every day and it’s getting worse. I have a day job and I am forced to wear business attire. I am not a fan of slacks and my other wardrobe. If I had my way, I would wear jeans or yoga pants, tank tops, and flip-flops every day. I really don’t get why we feel the need to “dress up” to impress others, but I do it because I’m told to. I guess I’m a little rebellious in that way, but I like to call it free-spirited. If I want to wear a costume, I think I should be able to. We sure do have a lot of silly rules.
To me, being spiritual sometimes means being the first to admit you don’t have it all together. I’m a work in progress and it’s freeing to accept the humanity of it all. The people who actually claim to have it together really have me wondering how they do it. Maybe they are just somehow magically blessed through some completed karma cycle. My life has never come easy and I make the best of it, whatever happens. If you’re in the human race, you’ll probably relate. I think it’s important to be authentic, real, raw, and genuine. That’s where the real spirituality happens and I embrace it fully.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.