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5 Practices to develop inner peace as yoga teachers in the modern world

I want to start what we celebrate as 2019 with a reflection about 5 things that have been flying around my mind for some time, things that I want to keep reminding myself today and everyday, and maybe they will work for you too.

1. Humbleness to my beliefs.

There is no such thing as “THE REAL SOMETHING”! There is no absolute truth, that which you consider the truth, is nothing else but your own perception of reality. I think this is of special importance for me, because as a yoga student and as an educator, I shouldn’t have room to think that any of my practices or what I teach is “the real yoga”. I believe there is no such thing as “the real” something. That is more an expression we have adopted and subconsciously we end up believing it to be true.

We have the tendency to follow others, because as humans we need to belong, but if we don’t pay attention we can end up reducing ourselves to other's beliefs, judging, excluding or rejecting anything that threatens their vision. Now a days there is so much access to information that it’s our responsibility to remain humble enough to acknowledge we don’t know the truth, information is not a synonym of knowledge. When we teach, we share what we have learnt, what we have experienced, we teach the theories we have studied and witnessed in our bodies, but we teach no truth, at least I don’t.

2. Discernment to my social media universe.

Social media, an unnecessary need... or not? Social media has the power to transform us into narcissist warriors. But social media also has the power to spread good messages, empower people and it is an amazing marketing tool. Recently, I read something on Mark Robberds wall which I felt very identified with. He wrote about how much Instagram has made us in need of having always hundreds of photos available in order to keep posting everyday so we don’t loose interaction, because at the end of the day, even if there was a time when social media didn’t matter at all to determine how much audience you could have for workshops, courses or classes, now a days is differente, there is a big percentage of people that get to know about what you do and the services you provide through social media, not to mention all us teachers in the “yoga business”. Yes, it sounds horrible for me to say yoga business, but that’s a reality and due to the fact that we have transformed yoga into a profession of which we make a living, in this world the business factor, in less or more proportion, becomes a necessity. I agree with Mark Robberds, I miss those times when people just knew about you because someone told them about your classes, when you only need one photo shoot per year and that will be enough for all the flyers and promotional material required. I look at my old Instagram account, and I see beautiful photos of nature, sunsets, people on the streets of India, mountains, clouds, and maybe here and there one or two photos of Asana. Times have changed, even if I do my best to remain truthful and follow my principles, social media requests more and more from us everyday. It’s a very sensitive decision to make everyday… I ask myself every time: what I feel I want to share, how I am going to do it, and why do I want to share it?

3. Responsibility to my plate.

Food is my fuel. During most of my life I learnt to use food as a provider of pleasure. I used to arrive to a restaurant and think about what was the most delicious meal before ordering something to eat. I used to go with my cravings, which usually are the result of anxiety, stress or any other consequence of repressed emotions. Once I found out I suffered from an imbalance of yeast in my belly and I started to change my diet, everything else changed. From out to in, and from in to out, everything changed. I realized my impulses of eating responded to the need to fill an inner void that I was not even aware of its existence. Slowly I did changes until I got to have more days when I feel good, with no pain in the stomach, no cloudy mind, no headaches. Once in while when I don’t pay attention to what I eat, when and how much, I feel discomforts in my body again. Long story short, the main thing that changed in the way I relate with food is that now I don’t ask what is the most delicious option, but which is the option that will nourish my body the most.

4. Awareness to my pride.

Detachment... even from pride! I must practice detachment, specially with my goals. Goals are just arrows on the map, what really matters is the path to be walked, not the place to arrive. I have stopped putting goals in my asana practice and I have made of the practice itself the goal, which means I have to achieve nothing, just practice. It’s actually very interesting to think that for a long time there seemed to be no “progress” in my asana practice, and suddenly this year I was able to do a press handstand, to lock my legs in Padmasana while in handstand, to touch my forehead with my toes while in Vrschikasana and to control the lowering of the legs during Karandavasana. Yes, I do feel excited about it, yes, I identify with it and celebrate as if I had won something every time things like this happen, specially because I am not expecting them to happen. But at the same, without any type of self-censoring or judgement, I know that the essence of the Yoga Path I have learnt is not related at all with what my mind perceives as “achievements”. So I just observe “the pride” of my ego, and laugh with it. Soon, that identification goes away. Pride is an interesting tool which can help to inspire and empower others to believe in themselves and follow their dreams, but pride in excess, and specially without discernment can blind our consciousness and make us believe we are the ego and all its achievements.

5. Kindness to my speech.

As yoga teachers, we have the tendency of wanting to educate everybody by proving that yoga is "the right path", believing that everybody should practice yoga. As a result of this, we try to prove us right, we try hard so others believe in what we say, but at the end, the whole point of yoga is not a preach or a speech, but an inside journey, this path is about developing practices of kindness and equanimity through which one can go inside and find the stillness of the mind, so we can experience the bliss of contemplation.

We must learn to choose our words, they are the speaker of our thoughts. If what I want to say is not contributing to inside and outside peace, it is better to stay in silence. If I analyze every comment or words I express during the day, I will see that I talk mostly trying to prove me right or trying to get the acceptance of others. Realizing this has been one of the most powerful things that happened to me. Since I acknowledged how much attention I need when I talk and how much it affects me when people interrupt me or don’t listen to me, I gain something that is priceless, I gain the ownership of my inner peace. And together with it, I started to develop the capacity of listening to others, of really listening to them, not just the words, but what is underneath them, through their body language, through the expression of their eyes, through the way they breath, and so I am able to empathize. This is a work in progress gift, which I encourage myself to develop everyday. Empathy is something that makes us feel human, and is the precursor of compassion, the most pure manifestation of love.

These simple reminders I embrace with humbleness and gratitude, I accept my own process and timing. Our purpose as a human race is to embody happiness.

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