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  • Alicia Waters

Why I’m No Longer Trying to Be a Yoga Teacher


Saying goodbye is hard to do. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of an indecisive Libra, or because it’s human nature to resist the unknown. Whatever the reason, it isn’t easy to give up something you’ve been attached to for a while, even if that thing was just an idea in your head.

Sometimes, ideas about who you thought you were can be the hardest things to leave behind.

For the past few years, I’ve been dedicated to building my career as a yoga teacher. I had a lot of ideas about what that looked like, based on what I saw other yoga teachers doing. It meant jetting around to exotic retreat locations, teaching workshops and trainings to packed out studios, partnering with athletic apparel brands, having a big digital following…that all might sound kinda shallow, but to be fair, most of that list was unconscious assumptions I was making, not conscious goals.

In other words, I wasn’t so much chasing the “status” parts of the job, as I was confusing them with the heart of why I wanted to teach.

And I did some of those things – in fact, I did all of those things to some degree. Which is how I know that the image of a yoga teacher I had in my head is not actually where I want to go, because none of those things got me closer to living my mission.

My mission has been, and always will be, to use my practice to reveal the truth of who I am – in all my power, my imperfections, and my oh-so-human glory – and to walk that path with others who have the same desire.

I want to know myself beyond the confines of the systems and rules I was raised in; beyond the socially accepted norms that convinced me to hurt myself and others. When I look back, in every instance in my life where I accepted or caused harm, the root of that choice was a misconception of myself and my place in the world, combined with forcing myself to ignore the warning signals of my body.

Now I know that it’s possible to correct those damaging misconceptions. And I trust that my body has a blueprint of my true nature and that my body’s messages can lead me home.

Home…home means wholeness, home means inherent worth and belonging, home means ease within and without. Home is where skillful action comes from – where my behavior out in the world matches my inner values. Home is the place free from judgment that we all need in order to experience peace.

Nothing has made as big an impact on my life as unlearning the misconceptions about myself that I was taught by the dominant culture, and replacing them with my own embodied beliefs – changing ugly stories into new truths that I know and feel deep in my bones so that I’ll never forget. My relationship with my physical appearance, my friends, my husband, my sexuality, my ability to honor my boundaries…there’s almost no area of my life this process has not touched, and each one is permanently changed for the better.

And there is nothing – nothing – that brings me as much joy and satisfaction as facilitating that process for others, the way that so many people facilitated my journey for me (and continue to do as I continue to grow).

To be present at the moment that someone discards a painful false story and the sparkle of a new reality dawns in their eyes is such a gift. We humans are so beautiful while do the work to shed the junk that weighs us down; as we dare to trust our instincts that tell us we are loveable and worthy and powerful; as our confidence increases and we become more and more radiant. I call it the Human Glow.

How could I ever confuse that with selling leggings?

Okay, I didn’t confuse those two things exactly. But as I mentioned earlier, I’ve had a growing awareness over the last few years that the means I was choosing to pursue in my career weren’t getting me to the ends I wanted. In other words, trying to perform my idea of “yoga teacher” wasn’t producing the Human Glow moments that actually make the job worthwhile.

So I’m letting go of trying to be a yoga teacher.

What does that mean? It means I’m re-evaluating what I do and why and how. I’m messing around in my practice doing things I’ve never done before. I’m paying attention to the impact that the choices I make as a teacher have on my students. I’m exploring ways to connect to my fellow glorious and work-in-process humans on the path, even if it doesn’t look like “normal” yoga teaching. I’m experimenting. I’m playing.

And you better believe I’m listening intently to the messages from my body – all levels of my body – along the way.

Stick around if you want to see how it goes…

With love,

Alicia xo

P.S. Even when it all seems so clear and so right, I want to acknowledge that letting go still feels hard. So whatever it is that you’re realizing isn’t going to come to fruition for you in this season of autumn - if you’re struggling to finally cut the cord, if you’re unsure who you’ll be in the aftermath, if you’re grieving the dreams that won’t come true – I see you. And I’m with you.


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