Authenticity to me, in regard to being a yoga teacher, means being myself. Not trying to be someone else, or teach like some other teacher. I can learn or be influenced to some degree by other teachers and what I’ve learned from them, but ultimately it’s me on the podium. If I use a little humor or share yoga philosophy, if I share a little story or something spiritual it comes from the heart, never scripted, never rehearsed. It’s about me knowing me and being true and honest to what I am.
Authenticity means staying connected to my source. What I am, what I believe in, how I live my life. Walking the walk on the middle path. I always try to keep in mind that teaching requires me to be continually learning and sharing, in other words being the perpetual student learning from life. It is about my quest for higher knowledge and sharing what I have learned. Being willing to listen and learn from others.
It’s also continually connecting with my students with empathy and compassion. Coming from a place where I am thinking of serving them the very best I can. Sometimes I’m tough because I feel it’s the right thing to do. I never ask my students to do something I’m not willing to do myself. It’s having sincere love and respect for my class and wanting the students to grow, honoring their strengths and respecting their limitations, knowing when to push them and when have them back off. Sometimes I’m not their best friend. That’s OK.
Being authentic is being open to feedback and suggestions from other teachers. Keeping in touch with myself. It’s always asking me how I can be a better, more effective teacher. How can I serve my students better? This is how I’m true to myself. I constantly think there’s room for improvement. It’s being open to an honest assessment not only from others but from me. It’s the little voice inside of me that says I could have handled a situation better or in a more effective way and having the courage to listen to that voice and attempt to do better next time.
Authenticity means being in the present moment. It’s about now. Staying focused. Being aware. Staying present. Staying connected in life and in the classroom. Being humble. Being honest. I reiterate but some things need to be said many times.
Finally, being authentic has to be directed towards everyone’s higher place. My higher place. Being authentic should serve both the teacher and student. This should be obvious to everyone involved either actively or from observation. That’s why the source has to be so pure.
I started my yoga practice in the year 2000 after sustaining a serious injury. I was 48 years old at the time, and, after a lifetime of abusing my body through team sports, lifting weights and running, I decided it was time to pursue a more realistic exercise program. For the first year and a half, I cultivated a home practice, faithfully doing a hot yoga series in various heated bathrooms, garages and attics. Once I found a studio, I jumped into a regular practice, which I continue to this day. I became a Bikram certified teacher in 2009, and have taught yoga in Sarasota, the Northeast, and the Evolation studio in Tampa Bay. Teaching yoga is my full time occupation. I am also on the Evolation teacher training faculty and I feel really fortunate to be involved in the process of training new teachers. I'm just about to turn 62, and I'm in the best shape of my life — physically,mentally, and spiritually. One of my goals is to get more people my age practicing yoga.