Teach the Teacher Lesson 8/26/2013: “Who, Me? I’m not flexible enough!”

yoga-bs-300x300“Who, me??” Yes YOU, dear student. It’s interesting. I have been noticing lately that some of my strongest, most committed yoga students sometimes fail to recognize their own power. These are a handful of students who come to every class, move with intention, explore new poses without fear, and, simply put, do the work.

So naturally every now and then I ask them whether they’ve considered teaching. Not just yoga, but any activity they’re involved in with the same passion and focus I witness on the mat in class. Just when I’m expecting a “yes”, or even a “hmmm, maybe”, or even an “interesting, hadn’t considered that…” the response I get is, “who, me? Are you kidding? No way,” and, wait for it…”I’m not flexible enough!”

Sigh. I expect to hear this from folks who’ve never taken a yoga class before, as understandably old myths die hard. In Yogaland, the non-practitioners all somehow seem to believe this discipline is reserved for human Gumbies. But these are students who have practiced enough yoga to know that physical flexibility is just one component of a strong practice. Or so I thought.

When I hear the response, “I’m not flexible enough,” I try to emphasize that physical flexibility is not a requirement to practice, or even teach, yoga. In fact, newer students who are overly mobile in the joints are, in some ways, at a distinct disadvantage as it can be difficult to integrate into proper alignment when it is so easy to collapse into the joints. Might feel good, but over time this lack of muscular integration can lead to injuries, especially in the shoulder and hip joints.

What is required to enjoy teaching, and even practicing yoga, is a flexible mind. A mind that recognizes yoga offers so much possibility and opportunity to become powerful, confident, balanced, grateful, the list goes on. And it has nothing to do with whether you can touch your toes.

So, dear students, if you have any desire at all to teach, please, go do it. The inflexible-minded need you!

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