On Becoming A Teacher, Part One: Goosebumps + Humility

On Becoming A Teacher, Part One: Goosebumps + Humility

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I was talking just fine. My voice tone and the felt sense of my body were relaxed and cohesive (just like I recommend to yoga teachers in my series of blogs on the Languages of Yoga).

Until the goosebumps overcame me.

Until my mouth felt dry.

I swallowed. Inhaled. Exhaled. And welcomed the warm sensations of gratitude pressing upward from my heart into my throat, which tightened ever so slightly. These feelings couldn’t be diverted. My eyes welled up with feelings of immense appreciation. My teachers have been a portal into timelessness and grace. A sudden sense of the smallness of my own life overtook me. I was unable to continue.

However momentary it was to the students in the room, time was suspended for me.

I was transported to the homeland of yoga: India. Color, noise, complexity, love, equanimity, selflessness, refuge, awe, heartbreakingly poignant and deeply graceful. And, also, my teachers’ hearts.

This palpable and welcome reminder of the love I have for my teachers, and even more than that, the love they have had toward me, rushes through me each time I speak about them. They are in me. Their teachings, their presence, their tremendous commitment to Yoga: awakening, loving, creating peace and healing, serving, simplifying, honoring.

The Cycle of Teaching (and Learning)

Each of my teachers has their teachers. And their teachers before them. I know them to be genuinely awakened teachers through their presence, humility, consistency, and prayerfulness. To be with them is to be both deeply quiet and expansively inspired by the breadth and depth that is yoga’s wisdom.

My Indian teachers have taught me the depth of yoga. Beyond asana, pranayama, philosophy and psychology, they have also taught me in the ways in which they greet me each time I see them; and the way they greet each of my students: with freshness. They are teaching directly to us. They are not teaching from a script nor adhering to dogma. They meet us as we are, in our development as humans and as Western students of yoga. They lovingly challenge and inspire us. They may initiate paradigm shifts for our lives. They may turn our world “upside down”, as we say here in the West. However contemplative we are asked to be, however honest or self-reflective we are encouraged to be, however, ur shadows are asked to come into the light of awareness, it has always been an inherently loving and kind delivery.

As I am preparing for both our world adventure to India and for the upcoming yoga teacher trainings, I am reminded daily of my teachers back in India. Swamiji, Mataji, Acharya, Saraswati, and Deobrat.

Our training programs are taught with a blend of Western methodology and the depth of Yoga’s authentic teachings, infused with and exuding Eastern views, integrated with Ayurveda, the compelling texts of yoga, and its roots in breath and mindfulness and love.

Each time I teach a training, my teachers’ presence in me deepens. I am grateful for how their presence and love insists on a kind of humility from which teaching happens through me. My primary responsibility is to be present enough, resourced enough, and connected enough that the teaching flows. Much earlier in my yoga teaching life, I thought my primary responsibilities were to know enough, be able to do enough (poses), and be enthralling enough.

Both this immersion into yoga through our teacher trainings and our travels to India will be life-changing. In fact, teaching yoga has been life-changing for me too. It’s not just in the study of yoga, turns out it is also in being a conduit for yoga, dharma, and community that our lives are transformed.


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Sarahjoy Marsh, MA, E-RYT 500 is a yoga teacher, yoga therapist, and author with more than 25 years of experience in the field of yoga. She is the founder of the DAYA Foundation, Yogajoy and Living Yoga. Her book, Hunger, Hope and Healing can be purchased from Amazon.

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