Teaching and Practicing Through Tough Times

Learn how to use your personal challenges to find your authentic voice, fortify your teachings and practice, and inspire your students and yourself.

An article on YogaJournal.com By Sara Avant Stover

“Yoga is a way to live.  We use the yoga mat to practice on and take our thoughts and beliefs into the world so that we may touch others. Yoga actually is the process of skillfully turning challenges, failures, hurts, and mistakes into opportunities.  As bad as it was is how good it can be.”

“Interruptions to one’s yoga practice or teaching are not necessarily bad things.  They are opportunities to realize that yoga never leaves you. Yoga waits. Returning from a hiatus also allows you to start fresh, to revisit old ground and discover new things. Often it has been briefly starting over that has made me love yoga all the more.”

  • If you have lost a loved one, dedicate your class/practice to their specific virtues and acknowledge how every life leaves blessings behind for us all to bathe in. Use the opportunity to explore the idea of living fully now and guide students/yourself to consider the powerful legacy you might also want to leave behind.
  • If you have been betrayed, consider how yoga philosophy and deeper self-awareness could have been applied to prevent the betrayal, and teach your class/remember the virtues of truth, friendship, integrity, and making life-affirming choices.
  • If you are going through a crisis, teach/remember that the only constant in life is change, and that from crisis always comes opportunity.
  • Take time in private to cry, grieve, and feel your experience fully.
  • Make very sure you have an outlet for anger, disappointment, and hurt (so that your students never have to be your therapists). Reach out to peers, counselors, and your teachers for support.

Throughout, no matter how you are feeling inside, resist wishing your difficult experiences away. Trust that by feeling it deeply and sharing it honestly with others greater openness, happiness, and freedom await you. When this happens, there is no division between practicing yoga and living your life.

“Yoga and life cannot be separated—they exist simultaneously,” Sanford says. “Teaching and practicing through difficult times is part of grounding this realization.”

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