One of the reasons I love to teach yoga is it causes me to look at pretty much everything through yoga coloured glasses. Except when I catch myself taking on too many classes of course. On those days I'd love to not hear or speak the word yoga for just one day :). But otherwise, teaching causes me to be looking at life from a yogic perspective in pretty much everything I do.
A few months ago, I took a break from teaching while I was looking into a new work opportunity on the coast. It was so fascinating to observe the effect of taking this break. At first, it was a great relief to rest. After having had such a busy teaching schedule for 5 years it was so relaxing not to be facilitating, not to be holding space, not to have to show up in any capacity for anyone really, except myself and my close family members, to not have anyone relying on me in particular to perform or be "on". At first it was very freeing and restful not to have to expend the kind of energy it takes to lead yoga classes. And it gave me an opportunity to look at myself and who I am, NOT as a teacher, not identifying as a teacher. I mean, I was still a teacher of course, but not currently teaching, not having that "output" so to speak, was... different.
I was still doing my own practice, and in fact, found I had more time to dedicate to my own personal practice which was more than nice and lovely. I had time to cook and hike and bike and camp and chill out, it was great. But slowly, over time, I started to really miss teaching. Life felt like it was going back to... what shall we say... normal? I became just a "normal" person walking down the street. Not having to think about yoga so much and class planning and themes etc. I noticed that I stopped looking at the world through a yoga lens so much. Because of that, the magic started to go out of life in a way. I noticed I was way more caught up in the day to day, the mundane details of life, without thinking about things too deeply. There came to be nothing "special" about life, nothing mystical and enticing and I thought "so this is what life without teaching yoga feels like." I found I was much more easily pulled into the quagmire of my thoughts and at the mercy of life's ups and downs. Life didn't really feel like it had any purpose at all.
I supposed because, as a teacher, you are entrusted with the role of thinking about, putting together ideas, presenting philosophy and ideas in yoga, you are responsible really for possibly lighting a spark of curiousity or interest for your students to encourage them to want to explore the system of yoga more. This is by no means, on the physical level. Yes, I think about postures and sequencing and alignment principles and all that, but only as a vehicle for presenting the real meat of the matter, so to speak. Some might come for the physical aspect, we give them that, but then we definately aim to give them more, more that they might hook into that might bring them back, again and again. More that might ignite a flash of light for someone to inspire them to want to dig deeper longer.
So it is because of this awesome responsibility that I am motivated to go through life opening my eyes over and over again to what is really going on, in my own personal life, with the people around me and my relationships and what is going on in the world in the bigger picture, to ask questions. When I am teaching regularly, this causes me to constantly be tuning in, thinking about everything from a yogic viewpoint. What does that mean exactly? For me it just means taking everything I've learned or read, or have been taught or experienced first hand and put it into play in daily life, AS THINGS ARISE. To apply it all daily and see how life reflects our yoga practice and vice versa.
Looking through a yogic lens has really helped me so much in my understanding of myself and the world around me in a very profound way, without which I feel like I would be not only very lost, but very anxious and depressed at the same time, due to the lack of seeing things clearly for what they really are. In yoga we call this "AVIDYA", or ignorance, or not seeing the true nature of reality.
I often say that if I hadn't found yoga, I would currently either be in jail or in the hospital, because of the physical and mental health that my practice and now my teaching provides me. When I am spending my working hours each week sharing the wisdom of yoga, my day is brighter, the colours of life seem more vibrant, my smile is wider. Yoga is such a gift and teaching it, quite simply, makes me happy.