So who thinks that yoga teachers are saints – or at least highly evolved people – who are always happy, friendly and wonderful to be around? Please think again. Or maybe I am the only yoga teacher who doesn’t fit that description.
Usually I am pretty nice person to hang out with (according to my husband), an inspiring teacher (according to my students), a good and compassionate listener (according to my friends) and a happy, optimistic human being (according to myself). When I am having a very busy and/or stressful day I can still teach a calming and relaxing yoga class. Also when I’m tired and low-energy I can ‘kick some ass’ in a vigorous flow class. Even when it rains cats and dogs and I have to go out to run some errands I feel happy most of the time. But not always.
Today is Saturday (which is generally my ‘no work’ day), it is beautiful out, and conditions are perfect at the beach. I started with a good yoga practice and breakfast outside. Went to see one of my students, and bought a Father’s Day gift for my husband (a beach badge). You’d think that everything is just perfect. But it ain’t so.
At the beginning of the afternoon I started to feel annoyed. I am well versed in my own psyche, so I know this usually means I have some thought or other that is lingering in my subconscious and is breeding negative feelings. After a little pondering I had figured it out, shared it with my husband and expected that that was that. But the feeling didn’t go away. It actually got worse.
I decided to go to the beach. The positive ions of the ocean breeze would bring me back in an appropriate happy-summer-mood, I reasoned. I should have known better. During the time I lived on a tropical island – the kind that people save up money for to go on vacation to – I experienced that no matter how great my surroundings are (white sand, turquoise sea, palm trees and sun), I’m either happy, or I’m not. What is around me won’t change the way I feel. And indeed, I still felt grumpy after an hour on the beach.
No matter the lobster rolls and amazing Parmesan truffle fries (yes, yoga teachers eat those things too!) we had at the food truck on the board walk later, I still felt like a jerk. I wasn’t being nice to my husband. Worse: I was being unfriendly. The fact that I was totally aware of it but somehow wasn’t able to change this, made me even angrier. I was judging myself for not being a good person.
By eight-thirty I decided to go to bed and hope for a better day tomorrow. I got sidetracked however. Somewhere between downstairs and the bathroom upstairs I got caught in cyber space. I read a blog by Tiffany Cruikshank that was very heartfelt. I looked at pictures on Instagram that were refreshing and inspiring. People sharing their lives. Sometimes good stuff, sometimes bad stuff. And then I realized something.
You know, I am a yoga teacher, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and a pretty girl. But I am also just human. There are days that I don’t like my yoga practice, I want to be alone, I have negative thoughts, I want to eat pizza instead of kale, I want to read InStyle instead of the Yoga Sutras, and I am grumpy. There are days I feel angry, think that everyone else on the planet is just stupid, and that every driver on the road should have stayed home. There are days I feel sad for no reason, think that nobody likes me and that I will never be really successful. Does that make me a fake yogi, an unworthy partner, and an overall nasty person? Or am I just human?
There is nothing wrong with having a ‘bad’ day. Without bad days, there are no good ones. Without rain, nothing grows. Without an angry face, there are no smiles. Without darkness, we wouldn’t be able to experience light. By going with the ebb and flow of life, sometimes I’m at a high and sometimes I’m at a low. That is the law of nature, and the fact that I happen to be a yoga teacher doesn’t change that. I may be aware enough to witness my experiences and feelings as an outsider and manage those accordingly, but at times it actually just feels good to have a bad day. I guess that is the realness of being human.
Thank you for listening.
Marije E. Paternotte