As unbelievable as it seems, tonight is Whole Life Yoga’s tenth Yoga Teacher Training graduation. I swear every year goes just a little bit faster than the last. (And I know I get a little bit grayer!) Tonight twenty brave souls who started class last September will practice together for a final time. I hope our celebration will be filled with more laughter than tears, but I’m betting there will be plenty of both.
My soon-to-be-graduates tell me that they have mixed emotions about tonight’s graduation. They’ve been working their collective butts off this past ten months designing sequences, writing essays, practicing, and teaching yoga. And they’ve spent every Monday evening, rain or shine, together in class. Frankly, they’re pretty happy to get their normal lives back. And yet they’re sad, too. After all, they’ve spent the last ten months learning, practicing yoga, and supporting each other. They’ve had the privilege of spending every Monday evening with an incredible, supportive community of like-minded people.
Speaking personally, I feel their ambivalence. In fact, I suffer the same pain. Nothing in my professional life is harder than leading this teacher training program. Nothing is, at times, more frustrating. Nothing pushes my boundaries or forces me to grow more, both as a human being and as a teacher. And absolutely nothing is more rewarding.
I remember giving a speech at my 8th grade graduation. It feels like a hundred years ago, but since I was thirteen, it must have been somewhat more recent than that. I don’t remember a single word of that speech, except how it ended. I closed with a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Its last line has guided my life ever since.
“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
I started teaching yoga because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to leave my world a better place, even if only subtly. Some days I feel more successful than others. But I never feel that difference more than when I think about my teacher training graduates.
This current group has been through a lot in the last ten months. We’ve seen each other through job changes, illnesses, car accidents, pregnancies and births. And we’ve learned to navigate these sometimes-overwhelming life changes using yoga tools. Students have found their own voice, gained confidence, forgiven past mistakes, and learned lots and lots and lots about yoga practice. I wish I could take credit for all this. But the most profound learnings and changes are a direct result of this lineage and its ancient teachings. I’m just the messenger.
My sadness tonight will be lessened only because I know these wonderful individuals are heading out into the world to share those same teachings with others.
To you, my soon-to-be alumni, a message. I’m proud of you. I’m humbled by your skills, your perseverance, your humor, and your forgiveness of my many, many mistakes. I’m happy to send you out into the world, and yet so very sad to see you go.
The teacher in me bows to the teacher in you.
More information about Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program can be found at our web site: Yoga Teacher Training at Whole Life Yoga.