The ego has a way of draping itself over you—making you believe it is the ultimate reality, that the thoughts in your mind are truth. Yoga teaches, however, that ego is just an illusion and removing the cloak of the ego allows the light of our True Selves to shine.
In August I volunteered to teach a yoga class for the Solarium Open House. I was excited about the opportunity to practice teaching, and gain more experience in front of a class. However, this came at a difficult time for me. My grandfather passed away not too long before and I was still moving through deep grief. At the suggestion of one of my dear yoga classmates, I decided to let myself fully feel my emotions, instead of my current coping mechanism of constantly being on the go. This advice came the week before the class I was supposed to teach. In my head, I thought I would still make time to practice my sequence—moreover, that I would want to. But as the week wore on, I found myself unmotivated with an empty notebook. I was heavy with grief, and moving my body for more than what was absolutely necessary seemed an impossible task. The night before I was to teach, I mustered an hour or so of practice. The next day I woke up feeling unprepared and anxious— the ego began to work its way into the cracks of doubt in my mind. I knew a few coworkers were coming to the event and what they might think of my poorly practiced sequence compounded my anxiety.
Before the open house began, I was fortunate enough to have five hours of Teacher Training with amazing teachers and fellow yogis. The intention for the day was “Illumination.” This intention completely changed my attitude about my upcoming class, and more importantly, it changed how I was thinking about myself. Through discussions of this intention and practicing a flow, I wrote the following paragraph during our module that adequately describes the shift in my perspective:
I have been given an opportunity to share the one thing that provides me with rest, peace, and inspiration. Maybe it will impact the students who come, maybe not. But one thing is certain—it will impact me by breaking down walls of the ego; structures I’ve built around my heart and soul. And that’s what this is about—the work I do on myself, the inner journey.
The class did not go as I had planned. I had to cut out most of the sequence I prepared (30 minutes goes by so quickly!), and the ego began to creep into my mind again. But several students came up to me after and told me it was exactly what they needed. The ego asked, “How could I have provided a class that was so beneficial for someone, when I was so nervous about it and full of doubt?” But I caught myself and remembered our intention of Illumination. When we as yoga teachers are able to let our True Selves shine during a class, we provide for students much more than hours creating a sequence with the ego would have.
I write this a couple months later, as my teacher training comes to an end. As I look back on this experience, it calms my nerves and brings me back into a centered and luminous space. I am not going forward to teach with just the thoughts from my ego-mind to guide me. I am going forward with my True Self shining! While it is an ongoing journey to let my Self become more and more who I am in daily life, I am so grateful for the Holistic Yoga School, the beautiful teachers, and my tribe for creating a space and environment where we are all safe and encouraged to let down our ego and radiantly shine. I have grown so much through this program, and I am finally uncovering the light that has always been within me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I completed my Seva project on August 29th and 30th at the Solarium. I volunteered to teach a 30minute class and work at the Holistic Yoga School booth.
The weekend itself was beautiful although I felt anticipatory nerves for teaching my class. I had decided to teach last minute and only had a day or two to prepare (for a very new beginner yoga teacher, last minute teaching is a little scary!). I had spent some time going over our Hatha sequence and thinking/planning on how to cut it down to 30 minutes. Eventually I got something I was happy teaching, figured out a quick playlist, set my intention and was ready to go. I knew I wanted to teach sun salutations, to give a good start to the flow of yoga. I also wanted to teach Vrksasana, my class intention was finding happiness within and nothing makes me happier than growing into a tree. I was nervous, though. Teaching my first Hath class I reached a moment of sheer panic, where I felt so uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone I doubted that teaching yoga was right for me at all. I had gotten past that feeling quickly but it’s memory lingered with me afterwords and I wasn’t sure if I would end up feeling that way all over again my second time around. Luckily, once my class started I only felt peace. I had some friends come to my class as well as community members. It was nice to share the space with them, do a quick class and I enjoyed the contact in shavasana. It is such a special time for me to share love, energy and blessings to the people in our community. By the end of class I felt so happy.
I can look at that class now and recognize how it helped me with my teaching later on in our training. When it came time to prepare for our Vinyasa class, I could still think back to my nerves nearly getting the better of me and get the butterflies back for a moment. However, because I had successfully taught after that I knew that I had moved passed that initial stage fright. I was still nervous because I wanted to do well, to show myself and my community how important this practice is to me. But I wasn’t afraid that I would no longer feel like I was out of my place teaching yoga. I had conquered my fear and found my spot, sharing this gift with the world. Amazing what 30 minutes of volunteer time can do for you. 🙂
The next day I also spent several hours working the booth Holistic had set up. We were selling discount packages, t-shirts and offering any information or conversation we could. The day was beautiful, the Solarium looked great, people were out with their families, listening to the live music. Short yoga classes were coming and going, inside and outside. It was fun working with the group of girls, some of which I had been doing modules with or retreats with and others I had never meet. There is immediately a sense of kin among the girls, knowing we belong to the same Holistic family. We talk, laugh, joke and put on temporary tattoos. We share our experiences with the community, talk to strangers about the path they are on. The energy was so vibrant and happy. It feels amazing to be part of a community looking to bring such positivity into the world. I left my tattoo on for the rest of the week, it was on my wrist and I was careful not to wash it too hard so it would stay on as long as possible. It was a reminder of the weekend, and how blessed I was to be a part of it. I might have been volunteering my time, but I was given so much back for it I wonder who really benefited the most. I look forward to other events like this in the future and hope to help out as much as possible. Giving back makes this world go round!
On Saturday August 29th A group of us from The Holistic Yoga School volunteered at the Solarium Hostel Open House. For the past four months we have been learning about the history of yoga, our yoga routines, yoga philosophy, and holistic living. In this afternoon we were able to get a peak at the yoga business. It showed us how spirituality, yoga philosophy, and business work together. It is a powerful union.
Each one of us took our turns helping future clients for The Holistic Yoga School book their free classes. We learned how to work the software to keep our clients records organized. The giving and receiving flowed like a river bringing in new life into our yoga school.
Some of our future teachers taught free thirty minute yoga classes. Each of showed our love and respect for our yoga school by participating in this special event. By giving these classes Holistic Yoga School received many new clients. I loved watching people go into the thirty minute yoga class looking weary, tired or stressed and returning to the booth looking revived and rested. They were eager to start a yoga practice. The healing they received in thirty minutes inspired people to give back in return. The giving and receiving came full circle. Yoga means union or unity. We united together. Each of us doing our part to contribute to a successful open house.
~ Bonnie Schowalter