I’ve been having a bit of a crisis of faith recently (and always) - wondering what the hell am I doing - why am I trying to change my life so drastically with this yoga and meditation teaching palava?
I am extremely fortunate to have so many amazing teachers around me (including my wife) and have had the opportunity to meet and learn from inspiring, world class yoga instructors.
I’m even more fortunate that one of my favorite teachers Jen has chosen to mentor me, and is willing to have me teach in front of classes.
I still wonder though - will I ever be that good? Will I ever have that depth of anatomical knowledge, that level of charisma, or that philosophical grounding?
What does a shy, awkward 44 year old ex-cancer patient Maori IT worker think he is doing, trying to teach people yoga?
I was lucky enough to attend a retreat at Rocklyn Ashram last weekend with The Om People. Mark, Izzy and Josh are all incredible teachers, and I was blown away - do I have the capacity to guide people in yoga even half as well as them?
In the opening ceremony they asked us to write something on a small piece of paper that we wanted to release from our lives. We would then place this small note into a fire. I wrote the word “Fear”. I think it’s so strange now, but I was terrified that after I had thrown it into the fire, it would curl open, and everyone would see that I was afraid.
They also asked us the question “What is yoga to you?” I think many people found this question difficult to answer, but for me the answer is simple.
At the final workshop of the retreat we were invited to share our answer, but only if we wanted. I was hesitant - partly out of shyness, and partly because it worries me that I talk about my cancer experience so much that it’s become a huge part of my identity.
I eventually decided to give my answer to the rest of the group. I spoke about my illness, and how I was told on more than one occasion that I might die. I told them that yoga and meditation improved my state of mind, and made my body strong again, when I thought that I may have reached a point where I was going to be frail, sick and weak for the rest of my life. I also said that I had the realisation that when it does come, I want to have a good death, with minimal fear and struggle, and that I feel that yoga has the tools to provide this.
I saw that my answer had visibly moved people, and this in turn moved me.
I later spoke to one of the teachers who thanked me for sharing my story. I repeated my line that I feel that I talk about my cancer experience too much, to which he replied: “It’s a strong story, and it inspires people. As a teacher you need to be able to show your vulnerability”. His words made me realise that I do have a message that I want to share with the world, and I don’t care if I have to tell it to one person at a time.
I don’t know If I’ll ever be a great teacher, but I will try to be the best that I can be, and if I can help a few people out, especially ones who are going through something like I did, that would just make it all worthwhile.