Coordinating and facilitating the Gracious Living Yoga & Surf Empowerment retreat was an amazing experience. Bringing together a group of openhearted and likeminded individuals from Canada and the United Stated was a powerful way to help others to see that the world is full of wonderful people with shared truths. For me it was empowering to create space for others to heal and bond in a safe environment.
It wasn't until the group left that I embarked on my reflection and transformation journey. What began as a surf lesson has become a life lesson. With some instruction, I entered into the Pacific Ocean and was quickly humbled. Years of training in the martial arts and yoga, put me at an advantage with balance, flexibility and agility. However, rough water and riptides quickly overtook and I was thrashed about. It became obvious that I was a first-timer.
As a yoga teacher, sometimes you forget that the simple act of a half sun salutation is foreign, awkward and even painful to a first time yoga student. They feel off balance, tight and must deal with their ego, which is as powerful as the ocean waves. Being a good surfer is about finding your center, while respecting what is going on around you, tuning into the sounds of the ocean and surrendering.
Teaching yoga is about surrendering your own ego and connecting to your students. Tune in with your heart and see if they are following. If they are not, back off. Yoga is not about the poses. It is about the connection of mind and body, body and soul and then the individual consciousness to the collective consciousness.
This morning I was blessed with a wonderful teacher named Paul. He may have appeared as the student, but by watching his movement, I could see where he was resisting the big 'waves' and flowing with the small ones. When the poses became too challenging, he would greet them with anger and tense up. If your students are tense, no one is practicing yoga and you are not teaching yoga. The benefits come in releasing tension, not displacing it from hips to forehead.
Instead of seeing a man struggle with yoga poses, I saw myself struggling with the ocean waves. Learn to teach with Compassion and you can open even the most locked up hearts. Find compassion by constantly placing yourself in situations that are new, awkward and uncomfortable. Humiliation keeps you humble and humility is where all hearts connect.
See humiliation, not as something to avoid, but something to embrace. For me, surfing was an opportunity to reconnect to the beginner's mind, an opportunity to soften and remember what it feels like to move into the unknown. When people stretch out of their comfort zone, it becomes uncomfortable. A good teacher recognizes their is strength in softening and surrendering.
If you ever have the opportunity to take a surf lesson, I encourage you to have this experience. It will certainly soften your soul and allow you to connect to other souls. At the very least, keep your approach fresh by trying new things. It will make you a better yoga teacher. The more people you connect to through the practice of yoga, the more you elevate the consciousness of the planet!
Be Humble! Be Happy Healthy and Fit!
Take your practice to a new level! Come to the Bahamas for a Yoga & Sport Course May 12-16th