can’t I say I can’t?


I can’t, at least not for 30 days. After that, we’ll see.

Learning the standardized text has been both a humbling and inspiring experience. Hatha yoga postures can be complicated, a lot of information must be conveyed to students quickly, clearly, and concisely. The text is the template the teacher follows, memorized word for word and often recited word for word until the teacher feels comfortable adding their personal touch. Ninety minutes is a lot of dialogue but I wasn’t a slouch in school and, even if I had been, I’ve been doing yoga and listening to dialogue for 10 years so it must already be in me. Right?

Mark Drost gave a fine introductory lecture on yoga philosophy following one of the first teaching clinics where I horribly massacred the dialogue for a single asana, muttering, spluttering, blanking out; and mixing everything up like I had been on a solid drinking binge since Cinco de Mayo. Which was kind of the case as I was so sleep-deprived from trying, ineffectively, to crash study that I probably would have done better with a few drinks in me.

I remember that blurry day in its Shaolin Temple cinematic version where the ignorant novice has divine truth beaten into him, often, with a very stout stick by the senior monks. “You can’t recite the dialogue because you are mired in self, trapped in your ego, projecting your fears! Whack! You don’t need to to spend more time studying the dialogue, you need to open yourself up to Self, allowing you to tap the dialogue through the subtle energy that connects all things in the Universe. Whack! Whack! … and …. Whack!”

Pride smarting and down on myself, I was filled with “can’ts” … can’t study efficiently, can’t remember the dialogue, can’t this, can’t that. One of my fellow students, not inclined to mince words, slapped me upside of the head. “I have cancer and was given one year to live. Four years later I am here learning to teach yoga. You can’t say can’t for the next month while you are in teacher training.”

Accepted. From this point on, I can’t say I can’t.

Mark and Zefea are inspirational teachers of yoga teachers. They teach with love, everything they do is meant to make us better yoga teachers, better able to serve others. We were told, almost from the first moment, that we are already teachers and they constantly communicate that they really see this in us.

As Goethe wrote:

A gardener knows, one day this young green tree
Will blossom and bear fruit in rich profusion.

Indeed, even this ignorant novice has come, through them, to see in each of my fellow students a unique mix of qualities that training will mold into extraordinary, shining yoga teachers. Me too. I can’t say I can’t.

Michael Leventhal


Michael has been practicing hot yoga for over ten years, coming to it initially to heal a body broken from endurance and extreme sports. While yoga continues to do that he has perhaps benefitted even more from its power to enhance focus, concentration, creativity, and calm, attributing two of his major inventions in the field of computing science to yoga energy. After 30 years of chasing fame and fortune in tech, Michael has recently reshaped his life goals toward expressing his gratitude for his spectacular life through Service, expanding his practice from hatha yoga to yoga in all its expressions.