WHY "BEEN THERE, DONE THAT" ARE THE SADDEST FOUR WORDS I CAN HEAR WHEN IT COMES TO YOGA
We’re diving into studentship this week on The Skillful Yogi. We’re exploring some of the many wonderful and nuanced attributes of being a student of yoga. Skills like cultivating our curiosity, honing our discrimination, building a solid faith that’s based on inquiring into our experiences in yoga, and so forth.
I often tell teachers I work with that being a student is the meta-skill of being a teacher, the one overarching ability that if we get good at it, encompasses all the other things we might do and learn as teachers.
In my own yoga journey, my dedication to being a student, well, it’s been my pillar. It’s what I’ve leaned into during times of uncertainty and self-doubt as a teacher. Though my teaching will come to an end someday, my love for the subject of yoga is something I know will continue throughout my life.
This is why, when a yoga teacher tells me they feel as if yoga no longer has anything to offer them, it saddens me.
Now, it’s a different thing, and not uncommon, for teachers to tell me they’re feeling bored with their practice, or uninspired about their teaching. They’re not sure where to go next. They’re feeling like they need something new or different in their practice, and are unsure of what it might be, and how to get there.
Experiencing plateaus in our practice and teaching is a normal and natural part of the process. A plateau is a threshold that means we’re ready to go to the next level of yoga. This is an exciting, and often necessary, place to be! A big part of the work I do with teachers is, in fact, helping them get to that new and often more refined, subtle, and expansive level of practice.
But, “Been there, done that?” That’s something different.
To me, it’s as unthinkable and absurd as saying, “I’m done with food. Food no longer has any nourishment to offer me.”
Here’s the thing: It’s never the responsibility of yoga to inspire you. That’s your job as a student. And, if you’re a teacher, well, then it’s REALLY your job.
Just as you have to prepare the meal and sit down to eat in order to experience the nourishment that is always, has always existed in food, it’s the same with yoga.
Engagement, inquiry, seeking out inspiration for practice and teaching, getting yourself to your mat or your cushion – all that is up to you.
Now, I fully understand feeling disconnected to, disengaged from, and possibly even disenchanted with your practice. I’ve been there many times myself.
But to not believe that yoga has something more to offer you? To me, that just means you’ve never learned how to learn yoga. You’ve never been taught the art and skill of being a student of yoga. Because if you had, I believe, you would know wholeheartedly that in yoga, there is always something more to learn and to discover. You would know, even when you felt uninspired about your practice, you wouldn’t doubt that there IS a new doorway to be unlocked and walked through, a deeper level of self-knowledge to unfold, another expanse of understanding to discover.
The truth may be that you aren’t willing or interested in continuing down the path of being a student of yoga, or perhaps your life situation doesn’t allow for the time and space for you to engage with yoga. But that’s not the same as believing yoga has nothing left to offer you.
And, if you are ready, willing, and able, then I can tell you for sure there are great treasures to be discovered, uncovered, and enjoyed.
Nothing brings me greater joy than helping teachers take hold of this invitation to another level refinement and expansion in their practice and teaching. Because this, then, is what they convey to those they serve. This is how we bring our studentship to bear on our teaching. Our own inspiration naturally, effortlessly lights up those we serve. And they get inspired to go beyond simply doing yoga, to living yoga.
If you’re ready to reignite your passion for being a student and teacher of yoga, I have a new online mentoring group coming together that might be the perfect next step for you.