Recently I had the pleasure of leading a four day 300 Hour Teacher Training. The yoga teachers who take this training currently hold a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Certification and teach students in yoga studios as well as other community venues. The intention of the additional training is to add to their education as a teacher and deepen their own discoveries as a student.
What do you as a non-yoga teacher have in common with this dedicated level of yoga teachers? EVERYTHING, if you are a committed human being to the possibility of personal growth and expansion for both your own radical self care and the betterment of society. Truthfully we cannot separate our learnings as a student on a yoga mat, or in life, from our ability to teach through daily interactions.
While some of us are deliberately a teacher as a profession, I see each of us as a teacher and leader from who we are and how we show up in life on a daily basis. We each impact those in our daily life in a profound way….from our children, spouse/significant other, extended family, close friends, co-workers, those we exercise with, go to school with, go to church with, the dry cleaning and grocery store clerks, everyone we encounter! What we do and the way of being we do it from teaches others through our interaction and result. Cause and Effect. Relationship and Impact.
A group of yoga teachers came together for a four day training. First thought for most is NOT, “yoga teachers have stress.” We teach stress relief! And yet, it became evident throughout this training session that the majority of these beautiful, generous souls had significant stressors in their lives.
If you have looked at the top stressors in life, you know that they have to do with change. In my viewpoint, most of the top stressors that impact our well being are experiences where there is a LOSS OF LOVE AND RELATIONSHIP TO OTHERS that previously existed.
These include marital separation, divorce, death of a spouse, death of a family member, loss of job, imprisonment, moving, and a change of schools. Throw in the fear of each of these before they happen and you get to experience the stress before the event even takes place. There is a gift(insert sarcasm!)...double the stress for free!
We discovered that several of us were going through many of these stressors. Over the last 4 years I have personally experienced divorce, empty nest, death of my last living grandparent, death of my dearest life long friend, lived in 4 homes while processing into full time Arkansas residency, and sold a business to open a start up business to solely support myself financially for the first time in my life. Some of these stressors were by choice and some not. All of these stressors resulted in the loss of loved ones and connection to a community I was deeply rooted in.
How can I and this group of teachers experience stress and lead you to lower stress levels? This is the golden nugget question! The answer is to experience stressors while living in a state of peace rather than being stressed through an intentional practice of filling our lives with the people, places, and experiences that give inspiration. The root of the word inspiration is spirare, which means “to breathe”. I think of inspiration as being that which we breathe in that gives us creativity and hope. And, I believe the “that which we breathe in” can be an innumerable amount of people, places, and experiences that fill our love tank.
As yoga teachers, we are undoubtedly inspired by our yoga practice. The physical actions of yoga create lower stress levels through the physical practice of breath and mindful movement. The simple focus of breathing intentionally while moving creates a mental space clear of those thoughts that stress us out. As increased concentration and awareness become available in the physical practice, it becomes available off the mat and in life. As the practice shifts from stress relief to pure enjoyment and fun, pure enjoyment and fun begin to come alive in life!
Life does not consist of a physical yoga practice only. Even for yoga teachers! As we listed what inspires us, what fills our love tank, our list of people, places, and experiences expanded into time with our family, deep conversations with friends, biking, cooking, sunrises, music, gardening, art, cleaning, and many other options were listed.
Let’s get real, life has and always will have stressors. The formula to experiencing stress from a state of peace rather than being stressed is to keep your love tank full through the people, places, and experiences that give you creativity and hope. Start or strengthen your path to peace by making your list of inspiring people, places, and experiences. And of course in my opinion...include some yoga!