Why Yoga teachers are just like you
Updated: Oct 8
By Indira Das-Gupta
Do you have a preconception of what you think a Yoga teacher should be like? Probably a vegetarian or vegan - wearing lots of mala beads that says “Namaste,” a lot. Like all stereotypes, this doesn’t allow for the wonderful variation that exists in reality.
One of the great things about Yoga is that you can take exactly what you need from it, this is what makes it so inclusive. Some people enjoy the physical practice and others are drawn to the more spiritual side.
Likewise, some Yoga teachers are vegans or vegetarians, tee-total, only eat raw food and wear hemp, and some love burgers and red wine.
Do the lifestyle choices of the former mean they must be better teachers? Not necessarily. Surely empathy, experience and patience are all much more important qualities in a Yoga teacher?
One preconception that comes up frequently is the idea that Yoga teachers are always calm and never get sick. Yoga can definitely help you manage stress and so become calmer, but it’s impossible to avoid stress and germs altogether unless you live in a cave in the mountains away from the rest of the world.
One of the many reasons I love Yoga is that it has helped me to manage my naturally fiery temperament. Some years ago I used to lose my temper frequently and then feel terrible afterwards. Since I began a daily meditation practice I am much calmer - does that mean I never lose my temper or get stressed? Hell no! Just ask my husband! The point is, I’m working on it. I know I need to keep up the Yoga and meditation if I want to continue to enjoy the benefits, feel better and therefore do better, but Yoga hasn’t tuned me in to the Dalai Lama over night - unfortunately!
Likewise, having a daily Yoga practice or sadhana goes hand in hand with looking after yourself. When you do more Yoga you just instinctively start making healthier choices, it’s another one of the amazing things I love about it. But I have two young children; they go to school; they pick up germs and then pass them on to me. So I’m not immune to getting the sniffles or worse.
So yes, you might spot me on an off day in the supermarket telling one of my children off or perhaps I might answer the phone in a manner that doesn’t radiate Zen-like calm. On occasion I might even have to get cover for a class if I’m too sick to teach. Perhaps this doesn’t fit in with your preconceived idea of what a Yoga teacher “should be like” but I’m human and I’m not perfect. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and that's cool.
If my style of teaching doesn’t resonate with you, then the chances are one of the other teachers at North London Yoga Studio will float your boat instead. I’m passionate about getting more people to do Yoga, regardless of whether they choose to come to my classes or someone else’s.
I actually like to believe that the fact I am far from perfect actually helps me to relate to the people I teach. I know, from my own experience, that even when you have the best of intentions, sometimes you slip up. You might fidget all the way through relaxation because you're planning your shopping list, or you might not even make it to class because you just wanted to curl up on the sofa and watch Fleabag. I’m not going to judge you for it, I’m here to support you on your Yoga journey and there will always be ups and downs, just like there are in life.
If you have a preconceived idea of what a Yoga teacher should be like then perhaps you think the same of people who go to Yoga classes. The popular assumption is that Yoga studios are full of young, slim flexible women in bra tops. But my studio, North London Yoga Studio is not like that at all - we have regulars from 12 to 70+, both men and women and the majority, like myself, are not naturally bendy.
So let’s stop the judgement, leave our preconceptions at the door and be more accepting of each other. Yoga is for everyone.
If my blog resonates with you or got you thinking then please follow me @indiranorthlondonyoga on Instagram