Breakups are hard, no matter the relationship. However, there’s a special kind of loss when you break up with a yoga teacher – a person who is often mentor, confidant and life coach, as well as teacher. This anonymous yogi has a story to share about her recent yoga teacher breakup.
At the beginning of my yoga teacher training program, one of our teachers said, “The essence of yoga is to question everything.” My first thought was, “What does that have to do with yoga?”
Turns out, it was one of the most important things I learned that session and a piece of wisdom that I’ve been returning to time and again over the last few months. A touchstone that has provided me with much comfort and insight as I’ve watched the relationship with my yoga teacher slowly unravelling.
Oddly enough, when I realized that I was breaking up with my yoga teacher, it felt like the worst thing ever to happen and the best thing ever to happen all at the same time. I knew that this was a pivotal moment in my career as a yoga teacher. My chance to take what I had learned and carve my own path in the world. But how to deal with the feelings of grief, disappointment and guilt that flooded my consciousness as I watched my teacher topple from the pedestal I had put her on? And how to accept the simultaneous feelings of joy and liberation?
First, the disappointment, oh, the disappointment. You’ve spent a countless number of hours in this person’s company, learning not only from their feedback, but also from how they teach and how they lead their lives. Not surprisingly, to lose the admiration and pride that went with this process is devastating.
It’s the adult equivalent of learning that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
The shock of being rudely reminded that the person you thought of as being “more evolved” than you is in fact human and equally prone to weakness and emotional outbursts shakes you to the core. Even though you know better than to idolize anyone, the relationship between yoga teacher and teacher trainer is nonetheless fraught with questions of power and influence. When it breaks down, it swiftly and devastatingly pulls the carpet out from under you.
Then there’s the guilt. For having let your teacher down. For having been a “bad” student. And the fear. That this breakdown may be pointing towards something lacking in you. Can I still be a good yoga teacher? What else haven’t I learned? Question everything, indeed.
The undercurrent of relief and liberty rippling beneath the surface could not even be acknowledged for fear of disrupting the storm of guilt and self-blame that I most certainly deserved. I had failed. What could I be possibly be happy about?
Just when I had decided that I was lost, hope cleared her throat to remind me that she was still in the room. Gradually, other questions and answers began to emerge. Indications that perhaps this rupture was a sign of my own development. That I had outgrown this situation. And although it hadn’t been the most subtle or agreeable of transitions, it was a transition nonetheless and not the end of everything that I treasured and valued.
Maybe, the universe seemed to be screaming, it’s time to take off the training wheels!
Although I am still processing events and trying to find the appropriate words to describe exactly what happened, I understand that the rupture occurred due to miscommunicated expectations and sensitive egos – on both sides. I don’t know what kind of relationship I will have with this person in the future, but I have already learned three important lessons:
*One person cannot provide you all the knowledge you need. In order to continue the process of questioning and learning – of becoming a better yoga teacher – sometimes you have to move on.
*It’s important to honour and respect what that person taught you, even if the relationship ended badly. They played an important role in your development and a bruised ego is no reason to throw out the validity of what they showed you.
*Questioning everything is scary – especially when it takes you to dark corners of your own personality – but it’s essential to identifying important lessons you need to learn and to helping you realize what your values are both as a yoga teacher and as a human being.