It’s my 10-year teaching anniversary! With a few tears clinging to the edges of my eyes as I write this — it makes me happy, to say the least. It makes my ego-mind (ahankara) flutter by being able to identify and say “I’ve been teaching yoga for a decade.” And like a nurturing mother, I tell my ego we still need to embrace being a student and we have so much more to learn from our teachers.
So please celebrate with me with these 10 things about 10 years.
“Contentment is really about accepting life as it is. It’s not about creating perfection. Life will throw whatever it wants at you, and you ultimately have little control. Be welcoming of what you get.” – Charlotte Bell
1. Action without Awareness. The body will guide you even when you have no idea why.
It’s 2013 and I’m leaving behind old patterns. Unhealthy relationships. An unfulfilling job that didn’t spark my creativity. Stepping into many unknowns. Like quitting my job without another one lined up. Starting yoga training, which I knew very little about and without knowing anyone that actually did yoga. Why am I even doing this?
2. There are times when the start of it all will, naively, feel like the middle.
It’s 2014 and I started teaching at Unity Yoga in Harlem. The first place I built a community. Where I found my voice as a teacher. I loved my students so much here and to this day think about them often. The random conversations entering the studio. And the follow-up conversations that happened more often non-verbally where I can see the quietness enter our bodies as we settled our NYC nervous systems during savasana. Naively I felt like I had been teaching for years but now I realized this was just the beginning.
Listen to one of my first playlists from 2014!
3. The grass is greener syndrome is forever a cycle and not a destination.
I’m graduating from grad school in 2015. An achievement I deeply wanted. But I remember really just wishing I could be a full-time yoga teacher. I craved to have my 300-hour certification. I’m obsessed with this practice and probably annoying everyone around me about it 😉
4. There are years that pass us that feel like nothing happens. But those are the years we live on the cusp of change. Brace yourself.
2016 — the year that feels like nothing meaningful happened. Meaning there is consistency in my life. It’s unsexy. No huge milestone. But is probably the most important, in some ways. Especially from what I can see now for the following year.
5. A sensitive heart will show you the way.
2017 is my Immersion in India. Before I left, an eruption of family secrets unfolded and I almost didn’t go. My heart was broken traveling here and it ended up being the best place to have a sensitive heart. I found my therapist here and stepped into the practice of Vedic Psychology. While it feels cheesy to say the year of “awakening,” nothing about it was obvious or instant. As my teacher said, “Spirituality is an inside job. Anyone can make changes on the outside” and it was the start of transforming my mind. At this point, I had mostly focused on the exterior or physical part of yoga.
6. One day you’ll step into what you think is the “greener” side. Not without endless challenges though, do you really want this?
Like #3 craves, I became a full-time yoga teacher in 2018, I lead my first yoga retreat in Nicaragua! I still have no idea how I pulled it off and the several that came after, aside from trust and a great co-leader. A healthy dose of doubt is helpful to keep going.
7. Change is the only constant in life. So what if you leave your favorite students behind (yes, I had favorites lol)? And your favorite studio? And the city that adult-ed you — who would you become next?
2019 was the year I felt the most burnt out. The year I have the most debilitating back pain from my nervous system being so dysregulated. In constant stress of living #6. This year I moved across the country to Seattle and tested out mostly working for myself, teaching part-time at studios, and freelancing part-time.
8. The year no one knew our conversations would start with “you’re on mute.” Where each human’s intersectionality makes us question, am I causing harm to others by being unaware?
2020 disrupted the teaching world (and the entire world!) in some good and bad ways. I officially created an LLC. I completed my 300-hour teacher training which started in-person but quickly transitioned to virtual. It was a full circle moment with Sarah Ezrin, a mentor assistant in my 200-Hour in Los Angeles, now a guest teacher in my 500-hour in Seattle.
9. We’re humans having a virtual experience
I question whether I can even say I’m still a teacher in 2021 with little to no classes. But I get that chance to teach in person again. Just 2 classes a week and it’s like placing fresh logs on brimming red coals. Practicing in community and in person is nothing short of magical. Humans need connection and community.
10. Output does not define embodiment
In 2022, my teaching income was only 4% of my overall income. If I measured success based on income, I would have failed but if I measure my success based on fulfillment, it’s the year I feel the most heard.
Over the years I’ve learned to not put pressure on teaching to fulfill all my income. It’s too much. This is the year it’s actually starting to make sense why I’ve done all this. I land a partnership to record video content for 3 million people to view. I get accepted into Insight Timer. I teach a summer Bilingual Yoga program in Seattle. I teach virtual Meditation and Writing sessions for an amazing community. I also graduated from my Vedic Psychology teacher training, the practice I learned in #5.
And while my life and career fill my days with non-teaching moments, I hope I carry the practice in my day-to-day still like a teacher.
I can only hope I keep respecting the practice as it has respected and carried me these past 10 years. I hope my words adequately described what has been passed on for centuries by many teachers before me. And for 2023? A vision…
I’m walking down by the lake, breathing deeply, immersed in the thought of becoming. Living. Breathing. Remembering the cusp of 2016 now in 2023. Unexpectedly I speak to someone, find something in common, and say “how long have you been teaching.” I’ve been teaching for 25 years. Without question I ask, “do you need an assistant?”