One of the more controversial statements I’ve made when instructing yoga teacher trainees is that it takes at least twelve years to become a good teacher. One of those statements I heard from a senior teacher when I was a junior.
Is it true? I don’t know really. I didn’t feel completely comfortable in my skin teaching yoga for about twenty-five years. I still get completely anxious before big teaching gigs, as in not being able to sleep the night before.
First a teacher has to find her own voice to be good. It’s not lost or misplaced. It’s based on years of yoga practice experience so you just have to get those under your belt.
Then, you get shaped by the practice so you aren’t necessarily the same person who started out on your mat.
I got hungry to study Ayurveda and yogic philosophy in the early 90′s, even though those disciplines weren’t being taught in the tradition I’d learned. Then, I needed to get experience in the reflective practices like pranayama and yoga nidra.
Now, at last, I’ve come home to Patanjali’s yoga, as a novice in some ways, a sutra ingenue, perhaps like you.
I realise I need to to be gentle with myself as I learn foreign vocabulary and strange concepts through exposure to the sutra. I’m staying open but questioning the relevance of this learning to me and others. I’m confident Patanjali became the good teacher he was by doing just that – a teacher for all time, as it turns out.
Tasya vacakah pranavah
Existing beyond time, Isvara was also the ideal of the ancients.*
*The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali, translation with commentary by Chip Hartranft