Practice Selfishly

I recently read an NPR article re the first government agency dedicated to the health and wellbeing of children. There is a line "women..., arguing to lawmakers that children are a national resource, and that if America's leaders didn't soon do something to help the next generation thrive, the future of the still-young country was at risk."

This idea - that people are a national resource - has stuck in my brain. A resource is a stock supply of something you draw upon to function well. It is always positive. That is why healthy, well cared for people create stable, healthy communities. They create great ideas. They innovate and elevate. Taking care of us is an imperative to creating a great nation.

Yet, taking care of each other is often reduced to an economic argument; I either believe in spending money to help others or I am against spending money on others. Simplifying the argument this way is reductive. It is also destructive. It ignores the actual, physical, mental and emotional benefits to oneself when we take care of each other. Ensuring our neighbors have clean, safe drinking water, access to health care and education, adequate support for joblessness, homelessness and hunger, means we are also improving our own lives. It decreases communicable diseases and infestations, social isolation, and improves public safety. Our lives improve despite the fact that we have less money.

The same can be said for our personal lives. When we believe our self-worth is linked to our financial status, we are over simplifying. We fail to take into consideration our need for expression, connection, play. We limit our ability to be resourceful, creative and engaged.

And while this may seem perfectly obvious, it is often forgotten when it comes to our efforts as a yoga teacher. Because, let’s be honest, teaching yoga is not always lucrative. Especially when we are just getting started. 

So why do it? I mean, I took that training because I hate my job. I want to change my career, I want to be able to do this professionally!

Because, while I know we all need to make a living to pay the rent, doing something you love doesn’t have to be lucrative to be worth it. Tying your teaching success to your economics is too reductive. It thwarts your chances for future success. It keeps you from seeing a class of two people as an opportunity. You will walk into that class and think “only two people showed up, damn.” Instead of, “Oh wow - TWO WHOLE PEOPLE showed up! What a gift!” 

Every opportunity to teach is a chance to build up your resources. Every teaching moment is a chance for you to practice honing your craft. It may not be lucrative, but it is rich with opportunity.

As you start teaching, think of your efforts like your yoga practice. Effort is not wasted. You need the practice. And practicing is a selfish endeavor. You practice for you. You practice learning, to become better skilled, more acquainted with yourself. You practice filling the tank. As the tank fills, you will have more resources to grow your business.

Yoga teaches us that momentary experiences are transient, that initial perception are often wrong, that loving oneself is an act of faith and determination, and that all of life is changeable. Learning these lessons over and over again as a teacher moves us from the selfish act of practice to the self-less act of sharing. Learning these lessons over and over again make us better teachers and being better teachers means we will be better suited for a life of teaching. 

Do not cut out before you get a chance to cut your teeth ;)

I hope this helps. Feel free to below with your thoughts.