by Brooke Asbury

As teachers of yoga, we have a great responsibility to the lineage, our teachers, our students, and to ourselves. We can never stop learning. We are stewards of a gift, a key that unlocks a treasure much greater than burning calories, gaining flexibility, or posing. Somewhere along our way, in the middle of a yoga class or at the end, in savasana, we developed a fire. We had such a passion for our yoga practice, our lives were so tangibly changed by it, that we wanted to share this experience. So we practiced, studied and gained enough knowledge to teach it to others – a set of physical postures, a breath technique or two, a discipline, a headspace, a body awareness, a worldview. Someone created a space – a yoga studio – and now we show up. To continue our journey and to show this journey to others. Therefore, our studentship is our impact. It was our beginning, it is our present, and it is our future.

The important point here is that we teachers are moving too. We are still growing, still learning, still practicing as students. This yoga journey eventually pervades all areas of our lives, as we become calmer under stress, unwavering when bombarded by distractions, and fiercely determined in the face of obstacles. But at the start (and every day we start again), we just show up. We simply come to our mat and breathe, and move through the postures. Teachers and students together. This is what a yoga community means to us.

It may be our names listed as the teachers for classes, but classes never belong to us. They belong to our students. The yoga studio is not a community without active involvement of both students and teachers. We teachers cannot make it a “good class” without the energy of the students. Likewise, the students will not feel a teacher is present and a part of the same body if the teacher is not also a student. Both students and teachers, alike, inspire one another. Whether it is the day a new student struggles through their first class, or the moment a devoted student conquers that one pose they have been trying to master, they are an inspiration to their teachers, and they make our job worthwhile. The ways they see their life change outside of the classroom is the true reason we do what we do. As teachers, whether we are demonstrating a beautiful dancer’s pose, an intimidating inversion or rather simply resting in child’s pose when we are on our mats, we are an inspiration to students of both the potential for the body and also the foundation of humility and surrender. It is also when we teachers return to our mats, stay through the heat and struggle, are brought to tears again during our camel posture, imagine the cool air on the other side of that door, and then make it through once again, that we remember the real challenge. We sympathize with the day-to-day struggles and breakthroughs on the journey because we were there on our mats, in the exact same place, not last month or last year but just yesterday.

It is very simple. If we are not on the path with our students, why should they listen to our words or follow our light? Why should we listen to, or trust ourselves to show a light we are not using?

So our commitment to this community, as teachers at Hot Yoga of East Nashville, is to be students. To be in the room with our students. To never stop practicing. To be curious. To be inspired. To be a part of the body, moving together. Walking together. Growing together.