When I started teaching I had an un-wavering belief in my abilities. I knew what I did worked and I believed whole heartedly that the people who came to my classes would be able to find what they needed there. How did I know this? It's really simple. I knew how my practice felt in my body (and it felt damn good) and I had the confidence and the humbleness to know it may not work exactly the same way for my students, so I wasn't afraid to cue my class to take a different route rather than hang on my every word and instruction. Fast forward to two years after I took my first teacher training, as I find myself beginning the journey toward my 500 hour teaching certification, and one of the first things that the teacher says to us is that we need to let go of the idea that by-the-book alignment in a pose, or overworking one muscle by hitting the same or similar poses in a sequence is of benefit, that a "harder" sequence, a stiffer practice is "better" or more beneficial (to question if it is of benefit at all even), but instead to discover what things feel like in your body and to ask our students the same thing. To use that as our roadmap. To understand the science behind what works our muscles, what affects range of motion, what is truly beneficial and actually works to achieve balance on and off the mat. To treat each student as an individual with a unique body that may not work exactly the same as our own - or anyone else's for that matter, and to honour that individuality in ourselves and in our students. To respect ourselves and other teachers enough to teach as individuals, not carbon copies of a text book or someone else, because we aren't all the same and that, that is important and should be honoured. It was my teaching philosophy, being taught to me. And make no mistake, I'm sure the universe put me there to re-learn it, and just to make sure I was listening, to learn it from a very experienced yoga teacher swimming in anatomical certifications and with an amazing and enviable practice and ability to intelligently teach that practice, the strong aspects and the soft, to others.
There were a few things I had to process on my drive home. One was how had I let someone else's idea of what I should be teaching affect me so much? Enough that even after removing myself from the reach of the person's negative influence I was questioning myself in my classes - despite the universe sending me numerous opportunities and voices of support to remind me that her actions had to do with her insecurities, not with me. This was hard for me to look at. Somewhere along the way I had lost touch with that sure, confident part of me and had started letting outside situations and actions affect me.
The other realization that struck me was that I was still doing it. I had left the unhealthy environment, I had kept moving forward and continued to teach and be inspired by the world around me, but I hadn't found my footing on my own, I needed to hear someone else teach my theory on teaching yoga to me in order to feel validated, in order for me to get "back to myself" in my teaching and my confidence level as a teacher. I had needed external validation to offset the external criticism. I wasn't home yet.
But I was on my way.