This morning I was so very blessed to be invited to sub a class as a first teaching interview at a wonderful local studio. For the most part I have trying not to make it a big deal. Other than a few co-workers at my day job, I have for the most part not been telling people about this amazing opportunity I had. Not that I did not want the love and support that my friends and family would give me, but because by giving it more energy the more the anxiety would build.
I am naturally an anxious person. Although yoga has brought me a long way from daily panic attacks, one can not fight their own nature. Besides I always felt that it was not the fault that I felt anxious, but rather if I would face it with grace or shy away with over run panic. So then as the time drew near for my interview of sorts, gradually my breath became shorter, and my speech faster.
For yoga instructors our interview process is a little more involved than for any other job. Not only are we encouraged to first build a relationship with a studio, practice there a few class, get to know the teachers, learn the name of the studio owner, etc. We are also put in the position of emailing a resume, cover letter, bio, and teaching philosophy. We then can have up to three to four interviews depending on the studio. Some studios ask for a video of a class you teach to first gauge if you would even remotely be a good fit. Then you have a meet with the owner and have a formal discussion, sometimes after one of the classes they taught. Then you can have a single teaching interview with other instructors form the studio, and if all goes well the owner will also join a second sub class or feed back session (the difference is if you are teaching a class on their schedule or the schedule a special class with just them and instructors to witness). If all goes well you maybe hired at their studio, depending on if there are contenders for the same spot at the same time – which there almost always are.
If you are lucky as a new yoga teacher, the studio that trains you will also hire you saving you from all this work based on your performance during training. However if you are not so lucky, this can all be more than a bit overwhelming. The anxiety can start at the beginning of the process, or build until the last class. Though in a normal class you are not judge based on your experience, during an interview you walk in knowing that the whole point of you teaching is so that they can see if you are going to fit for their studio and be a good yoga teachers.
Some how, in my four years as a yoga instructor, I never once had to go through this whole process until recently. Granted I did have ‘interviews’ so to speak with private clients on their first session, nothing quite so nerve racking. I was lucky enough this morning to wake up with plenty of time for my morning ritual, part of which is reading a chapter out of The Bhagavad Gita. The chapter this morning was “Karma Yoga; the Yoga of Action“. In this particular chapter Krishna is speaking with Arjuna regarding the properties of action, and how, although still bound to this world in physical form, one can transcend the effects of karma by non-attachment.
“As the ignorant act with attachment to their work, O Bharata, so the wise man should act (but) without attachment, desiring to maintain the order of the world…
Even the wise man acts in conformity with his own nature. Beings follow nature. What will restraint accomplish?” Gita 3.25 and 3.33
Reading these words I understood how to conquer my anxiety. Just teach, teach without any expectations, without attachments to what will come out of the experience, just love the fact that you get to teach a new set of students in a new place with the possibility of a continuing class. Granted I am no enlightened sage, so all my nerves were not gone; but while teaching I just breathed. I breathed through every snafu, breathed through every missed word or phrase, breathed through even the good parts; and let it all go.
Non-attachment is something that floats around both yoga circles and alternative spiritual circles constantly. For new comers it can be the seemingly greatest challenge to their path, becoming non-attached to the world around them, and every material object. At times, particularly if perfected, it can be very lonely and depressing, spiraling the truth seeker into a dark hole that is very difficult to climb out. However when we talk about detachment, we are not talking about becoming a recluse against your nature; rather we are saying be a part of this world, and work towards its enlightenment. Just while you work, whatever comes out of your actions, do not be attached. Do not be attached and over celebratory of your victories, or overly downtrodden over your failures. Everything that happens is towards a greater purpose. For when you surrender the fruits of all your labors, there is a freeing nature that allows us to act without fear, without anxiety.
If you are a yoga instructor and faced with this same conundrum, take faith. It is okay to be anxious, nervous, and all out panicky. Just breath. No matter what will happen it will all work out just the way it is meant to, and if we just go with the flow we are likely to remove these tensions. Do not focus on the studio owner, or the other yoga teachers. Do not focus on getting the job. Focus instead on serving your students, because that is your job and your Dharma. You can only be a good fit for a studio if you are able and willing to serve and connect with their students. Even if you make mistakes, and blunder, if it is meant to be it will happen, so just let it go and move on. Do not focus on the negative but on the positive.
“Better one’s own dharma, though imperfect, than another’s well preformed. Better death in (the fulfillment of) one’s own law, for another’s law dangerous.” Gita 3.35
Practice, and Teach, in Peace and Love ❤