Why I No Longer Teach Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa, Flow, Level 1-2, Level 2, Gentle Yoga, Beginner’s Yoga, Yoga with beer, Yoga with wine, Yoga with live bands, yoga with dj, yoga with candle light, whatever it is you want to call it, I quit. I quit teaching them all. Hang up my mat, turn off the music, I. Quit. Let me take a step back. I started my teaching journey wide-eyed and bushy tailed, wanting to teach everyone the powerful magic of yoga. I wanted to teach children, elderly, physically capable, people with fitness challenges, I wanted to teach everyone. So I did. I taught toddler yoga, mommy & me classes, chair yoga, classes for gym rats and couch potatoes. But I got burned out. It took me 4 years of teaching to finally admit to myself I can’t be everything to everyone. I don’t know why it took so long. I think I felt like I “needed” to teach Vinyasa. That’s all that’s offered in my town, and that’s what pulls in the most students. I know, I know. You’re thinking “Christince, you tell us not to compare ourselves to others” but sometimes what we learn on our mat takes a while to seep into our real lives. That’s what people are used to and what they expect. But Vinyasa never fulfilled me in my personal practice, why did I ever think it would fulfill my teaching?
I love teaching yoga and sharing the transformative powers but I wasn’t doing it authentically. I was changing myself in order to fit in or because I felt like I would lose students if I quit offering Vinyasa. The truth is, however, the students that only liked me for Vinyasa, aren’t my students. I’m not the teacher for them.
Ashtanga has this concept called parampara. It means the lineage, the teachings that is passed from a long line of teachers to student. There is a sacred relationship that is developed between a student and a teacher. You can never be a teacher without having first and continuously humbling yourself and surrendering to someone truer to the source of the lineage than you.
This is what I love teaching about Ashtanga. This is what I most enjoy about being a student. The continuous relationship of a teacher, watching the student grow, slowly cultivating a true practice. The tears, the sweat, the blood, all shared with someone who knows, who has been there. The teacher knowing the students body and mind as much as they know their own. Knowing when to tell the students to push and when to tell them to pull back.
And that’s what I feel that I didn’t get with Vinyasa. Some days we work on hips, some days we work on shoulders, the teacher can change, the students come and go to whatever is convenient to their schedule. Once you begin practicing Ashtanga and you find your teacher, you make your schedule work to practice. I’ve traveled across the country and invested a ridiculous amount of money to study with my teacher, and I know he has done the exact same thing to study with his. There’s nothing flippant about Ashtanga. It’s not a hobby or a just a way to make you feel good, Ashtanga is literally a lifestyle. It’s my life.
So finally, after four years of trying to conform to what I think others want, to trying to teach every body, I’m quitting. I’m teaching my yoga, teaching my students that are dedicated to walk this path, living this beautiful eight fold practice. Because it’s just that, a practice. We have missteps, and denials, and trying to conform to society, but the moment we recognize our potential, magic happens. As Guruji famously said “Practice and all is coming.”