Even though I’m a yoga teacher and I know how to practice yoga at home, I love going to yoga classes. Sharing energy with a group feels good, and being told what to do helps me get out of my own head. Taking classes also keeps my teaching fresh by getting exposed to new poses and flows. Recently I ran into a student of mine as I was walking out of a class I had just taken. He threw out a question that’s been in my head since: What’s easier, taking yoga or teaching it?
Without thinking too long, I said “Teaching” and I’ll stick with my guts on this one. While teaching a yoga class can be physically demanding (it took me a while to be able to talk through sun salutations!), the mental part only requires external focus on my students. During my regular everyday interactions, I’m a planner and a bit bossy, so putting together yoga sequences and telling people what to do feels natural. During a yoga class that I’m taking, the physical asanas are even more demanding because I’m entirely focused on the sensations in my body. Plus I’m fighting my monkey mind to get myself focused on that moment. It doesn’t feel as natural to turn all of my attention on myself and it’s hard to do so without bringing up judgment or distraction.
I think my answer that teaching is easier than practicing yoga surprised this student. But the real work of yoga is bringing awareness to your own body, mind, and breath. Yoga practice is one of the few places that requires this attention on yourself, so it takes practice to find that focus. So, you’ll catch me in classes, still practicing.