Just Keep Going: refuse to compete

Last week, an experienced yoga teacher took my class.

In the middle of my class, this teacher felt compelled to share with my students something she believed I should be teaching them at that moment. She interrupted my teaching, and for a hot second, taught what she thought was important for my students to know.

I was belittled in front of my class, and with my confidence stolen, I tried my best to humbly accept the interjection. 

This kind of thing happens to me all the time.

It is a subtle form of aggression and competition, and you are sure to experience this as a teacher, especially if you become an influential teacher.

When an instructor is insecure or lacks compassion for herself, she will take it out on you and your teaching. When we feel like we are lacking, we steal from others. This is a prime example.

In this situation, the teacher had a strong desire to be seen and heard. She needed to convince herself and my students that she is more knowledgable than I, for the sake of her own ego. In a moment of my vulnerability, she stole my autonomy as a teacher, instead of witnessing her own insecurities.

I used to be an asshole, too.

Ironically, I was the biggest jerk when I was the most inexperienced at teaching yoga. Shortly after I graduated from yoga teacher training, I was super catty and judgmental of popular teachers because I, too, wanted to be a popular teacher. It was tough not getting the attention I wanted.

I subconsciously tore down teachers in my own head. I talked bad about their classes to other teachers, and I generally gave off the worst vibes when I was in their yoga classes.

I was not secure enough in who I was as a yoga teacher, and because of that, I was aggressive and competitive with other teachers around me.

But, I have since evolved.

As more students resonate with my teaching, and as I become clear on how my style is different from other styles, I more readily see the benefit in all levels of yoga teachers and all styles of yoga.

These days, I attend yoga classes as a way to gain inspiration, not as a way to prove to myself that I am better than other teachers.

More and more teachers from all backgrounds are coming into my classes to check me out. Many of them blatantly dislike my classes, and this is where my practice really begins. Through their eyes, I get a peek at my old insecure self, and I have an important opportunity:

I get to choose the path of compassion and refuse to compete.

When a teacher interjects in my class, or offers unsolicited advice, or talks bad about my class, it’s not about me. 

This powerful realization liberates me from letting other teachers’ opinions drown out my own unique and divine contributions to the practice of yoga. 

Many instructors are uncompromising in their beliefs about how yoga should be taught, and it is this yoga dogma that pits teachers against teachers. It is a rigid adherence to “what-I-was-taught” that fragments us from seeing the beauty of diversity in every yoga teacher.

Where are you lacking?

Can you remember a time that you were aggressive (either in thought or action) to another yoga instructor? Did you suggest how things “should” be taught or slander his/her style because it does not resonate with you? 

This is the practice, ask yourself: what am I trying to prove and to whom?

When you trust that what you offer is unique and powerful in its own way, you have no need to compare yourself to others. When you focus on filling up yourself and improving your teaching, how others teach becomes a source of inspiration, not competition.

Refuse to compete with other teachers, even the ones who want so badly to compete with you. Take the path of abundance. Shower that teacher (and yourself) in reassurance. Humbly listen. And most importantly,

just keep going.