On Teaching

Yoga has always intimidated me. Flexible, I am not. Touching my toes has meant settling for just above my knees. And the thought of going to a group yoga class is still scary.

But Yoga with Adriene has been a revelation. Adriene Mishler is a YouTuber, whose 30-day guided yoga lessons have nourished my mind, body, and soul and presented me the building blocks for better balance on and off the mat.

Each day, I’ve worked hard to fit in the daily practice of yoga, but anxious questions often fill my mind: What if I don’t have the time? What if I miss a day?

Oh, how I’ve missed the point. The core of Adriene’s teaching lies not in each individual lesson, but in Day 30. While so many instructors rev up their spoken words per minute as high as their audiences allow, Adriene pulls back. She turns her microphone off. Day 30 is silent. And our inner teacher fills the space. Day 30 is to cultivate the teacher within us all.

At some point in our lives, our teachers leave us. And if we have not internalized their lessons, this fact can be devastating. The best teachers are reliable, but taken too far, great teaching can be a tenuous crutch. Many have felt the chaos that comes when the favorite teacher is out sick and the substitute covers and is disrespected. Order is removed, and gains are lost.

Day 30 reminds me that the purpose of teaching is to leave and have student rise without you. Teaching is what happens when you’re not with students. Their education is like a door. We can choose, paint, install, and display the door, but only the student can open it. And the moment they do, we cannot be there. It’s not for us. Teaching is about letting go.

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