It always seem to me that my son raised me up more than vice versa. Since Zen entered primary year one early this year, he had always struggled with his knitting works. One evening, on the dinner table, I asked: “how’s your knitting works?” He answered : “I was the last in the class to get it right before the new boy named Harry came in the class. So now I am second last on the list…” He stabbed my panic button but pretending to be undisturbed I asked: “Do you need my help?” and he was fast to say “No need la…. I will get it right eventually.” That released my panic button. And today, he is a fantastic knitter.
He taught me well that “mistakes aren’t failures and failures aren’t forever”.
End of 2016 marked my 9 years in the Yoga teaching industry. First of all, I’m not a flexi and bendy type of yoga teacher. 9 years ago, I would have picked myself as the second least likely teacher I know to learn Yoga. The first being my husband. Despite this apparent lack in Yoga background, we set up to operate our own small studio. Even though prior to starting Journey Within, I had no previous Yoga teaching experience, no customer connections, no “right” to imagine that I have something to offer to my Yoga students, growing into this path has been as natural for me as breathing.
Perhaps I dared imagine having something to offer because I felt uniquely qualified as a Yoga Teacher. My qualifications are not born of having the most exquisite poses to display with background of some dreamy curtains blowing in the wind, admirable body shapes like the lady in the front row dressed in lululemon gown or gurus with long beards and white robes that seem to make their appearances in the snowbound Himalayan caves as often as they appeared in Facebook.
Before I began my Yoga and Therapy teaching profession, I was a lawyer for about 10 years’ legal standing. My initial exploration into Yoga and what it has to offer to me is with an experienced lawyer’s scepticism. While everyone was content in merging Yoga with shape-up, fitness, stress-reduction practice that attract millions of practitioners, I belonged to the rare minority who became curious about its deeper potential. It was a lonely journey. I seldom attract like-minded Yoga practitioners.
Getting into your dream career to others seems like a great thing, saying “I love my job” and actually establishing one is totally a different story. Half a decade ago from now, my bank account was telling me I couldn’t stay past Christmas especially since my current income wasn’t enough to sustain the whole family. It was a strange situation. My collection added up to a total that was really below poverty level, just not enough to possibly make it past Christmas and Chinese New Year. The business was not sustainable. The choice was ours, should I hang in there and work towards rebuilding my career or should I just walk away from it all, back to my old job or something entirely new.
Just two weeks ago, a student of mine, which joined us in the second month of our opening, more than 8 years ago said to me, “You will never fail because you keep trying, how can people fail when they keep trying?”
Fortunately for me, some courageous voice from my husband said “We will go ahead, re-plan and do it again”. I am forever grateful for that courage over and over again because if I were to walk away just like that, I would not have reaped the fruit of meeting the most wonderful group of Yogis who walk the “Journey Within” path with us, who understand that the purpose of Yoga is not to be “happy” but Yoga has become their way of giving themselves to others. Many people come to Yoga practice because the practice, in their words “makes them happy” and I have seen many teachers set for a Yoga teaching career to be “happy.” They told me Yoga makes them happy and few years later something else makes them happy and they went for that something else. I could not believe that the purpose of Yoga is to be happy.
Year 2017 is going to be the third year we hold our very own Yoga Teachers Training Course. We are forever grateful to all Journey Within’s grads year 2015 and 2016. I see JW teachers putting tons and tons of time and effort into practicing and learning for others. In them, we see Journey Within’s spirit, who portray Yoga as one of the ways that a mature person cares for him/herself and others. Through teaching, I know they have found a place in the world, belong to it, and take responsibilities for themselves and others. This is a radical transformation of Yoga duty into love, giving their all to the students in the classes, making our every steps of hardship till today very worthwhile.
This is my concept of “success” as a Yoga teacher. Leaning to teach in the most honest and truthful manner, to create and express Yoga as something so profoundly beautiful and positive for ourselves and others.
Through this acts and attitudes, we grow in Yoga industry seeing Yoga more than something we do to “earn a living,” it is that which helps us build our life. A mature Yoga teacher does not yearn for happiness, she has it. She does not long for love, she has it. She does not strive for satisfaction, she has this.
We hope to see Yoga teaching industry progressing in this way. In Zen’s spirit “we will get it right eventually……!”.