09 Jun The Path of a Teacher or Yoga Therapist: Accessing Inner Wisdom to Chart Your Course
We live in a busy world. The householder stage of life is weighted with responsibilities at work and home and being a citizen of the world. Wonderful, but complicating, is the access to so much information. We have the veritable buffet table of yoga and scientific information at our fingertips and unlimited opportunities to engage in courses and workshops and trainings. And while the pursuit of knowledge is important for any yoga teacher or yoga therapist, we need time to listen inwardly to what aligns with who we are.
Personal practice is important in creating a livelihood as a yoga teacher. It bears repeating. Keep your personal practice alive and a means for personal and professional transformation. While the achievement of bendy and challenging postures may feed your ego and help you rock your class, it’s the inner work of yoga that is extremely important in your authenticity, the manifestation of your highest potential and your alignment with your highest values.
I’m so grateful to my teachers for pointing me in the direction of the inner work almost 30 years ago. While age seasons all of us, it’s the inner practices of yoga like pranayama, meditation, chanting and symbolic aspects of practice that lead us home to ourselves. I appreciate what Gary Kraftsow says, “discriminative insight arises are we are established in our true nature, this represents the highest goal of Yoga.” The discriminative insight gained through sadhana can be a guiding light in all areas of your life, even your path as a teacher or therapist. When we regularly immerse ourselves in practice, we have times of going deeply into a state where inner wisdom arises.
We can read leadership, entrepreneur and business books and take insightful courses. These exercises in gaining knowledge are necessary. I’ve found that the deep insights for the path forward come from a personal practice that taps into inner wisdom. When engaged in a personal practice that supports transformation, we are less tossed around by habitual emotional reactions, personality tendencies, old and outdated personal stories and mindsets, tendencies to accumulate more and default patterns of taking the road that’s familiar.
So how is it that we access the inner wisdom? I’ve learned from my teachers that the doorway in may be asana, but that asana is in service to pranayama, chanting and meditation to support the deeper inner work of transformation and the cultivation of potential.
How is it that one turns mindsets of “I can’t” into “I can” or “I don’t know” into “I know”? How is it that one taps into a deep reserve of prana to do what needs to be done? It comes back to personal practice.
Consistent practice over time often reveals surprising directions, strength of purpose that is deeply rooted, and a path that is in alignment with your values. The yoga vidya, the stream of teachings, flow through you in charting a course that may be unfamiliar in so many ways but so familiar in that it reflects who you truly are.
When I contemplate the challenges for yoga teachers and yoga therapists, I think that one challenge is the use of so much energy at the buffet table of endless information and the trap of another serving at the buffet table of information that only skims the surface of the teachings. One thing that you can do is reflect on your chosen path and how much time you give that path or goal. How much time gets diffused in service to endless information? How much time is really dedicated to digging in and learning something deeply, doing the hard work of developing something new or aligning with what you are really called to contribute?
The more you align with what is authentically you will be felt by your potential clients or customers and those around you who value what you do. Word spreads. People find you. They recognize the authenticity of your teaching and Yoga Therapy. They recognize that you’ve experienced what you transmit. They recognize that you’ve explored different manifestations of the teachings. From this deeper inner transmission of yoga, you will boldly go with humility on a path that feels like you.
A framework for accessing inner wisdom for your teaching and Yoga Therapy:
- Use asana to prepare your body to sit and to prepare your breath for pranayama. Lengthen inhale and exhale in several postures.
- If you appreciate the turning inward from chanting, consider using a chant in several postures in the practice that align with connecting with your True Self. You may have a lineage chant that speaks deeply to you and takes you home.
- Move into Nadi Shodana or Pratiloma Ujjayi for at least 12 – 18 breaths. You could add silent chanting with pranayama to further deepen the practice.
- Sit in meditation. Reflect on your values, what is deeply felt as a path for your work as a teacher or Yoga Therapist. Reflect on what distracts you from this path. Reflect on how much time you spend cultivating your intended path. Listen in the silence for the deeper insights.
- Use the ancient practice of Sankalpa to seal in your intentions to manifest your deeply held values.
- Journal to process any insights that surface.
- Repeat frequently!