While studying the yamas and niyamas of yoga, a wonderful student asked in earnest something along the lines of, “well, as we figure things out through time and experience, how can we ensure the next generations don’t make the same mistakes or act badly? How can we teach them to live a good (yogic) life? I wish someone would have told me all of these tools to help manage my life!”
What a damn good question, right!? A question I think most of us come across around age 25-35. Way to go young one! My response was to gesture to the projector that highlighted the 8 Limbed Path of Yoga, gesture to myself, then gesture to the class. “Behold!” I thought to myself. She looked at me with a defeated sigh and responded, “that’s not what I meant. Why aren’t we taught to BE this way?” What more could I possibly do to provide, demonstrate or make available the path of yoga? Are you thick!? It’s right here! I am trying to improve your present and future by opening your thoughts and hearts to yoga. So open your heart! Now! You’ll see!
Don’t worry, I didn’t say that… Before blurting that out I thought to myself, “Kiera, don’t allow your ego to get in the way of your legacy.” Instead I shrugged my shoulders and simply said while gesturing again to the 8 Limbs, myself and the class, “my actions, experiences and knowledge are everything I have to offer to help you inform your choices. That’s all a teacher can give.”
When teaching becomes forcing you are no longer teaching. Teaching is shining light, demonstrating behavior, helping connect the dots, and biting your tongue so your ego doesn’t spit fire. Teaching is not an assembly line or a cloning factory or a computer programming job. It is time in your life spent offering your past and present to connect with real humans for the sake of their present and future. Teaching is giving and the student must choose to receive.
That’s the point I eagerly wished my student could see. In my highest hopes, the eagerness and frustration she’s feeling will soon blossom into receiving. Time will connect the dots for this young woman to see that learning the yamas and niyamas, which are rooted in self-observance and truthfulness, are her own path and not for another to enforce upon her. Compassion, truthfulness, contentment, self-discipline and non-possessiveness must be observed and practiced.