How I Decided to Start Teaching Yoga (of All Things)

“You should totally be a teacher.” I’ve heard that more than a few times from friends and colleagues over the last decade or so; and I happen to think it's a good idea to pay attention to other’s inclinations about us.  Advice isn’t necessarily gospel, but it can be a tool to direct our actions and our eventually our future, especially if we find the advice repeated and relevant. So I listened, but honestly hadn’t the slightest idea what to teach. Some said I should be a pastor like my father, while others thought I would make a good High School or College teacher. Having a capacity to teach, however is useless without knowing what subject(s) to offer.

" Advice isn’t necessarily gospel, but it can be a tool to direct our actions and our eventually our future, especially if we find the advice repeated and relevant."

So I ended up chasing a few rabbits along my path. After studying history at Indiana University of South Bend, I tested to be a social studies teacher for middle or high school students. I soon realized that the job market was saturated with what I hoped were talented and beloved teachers. I even applied to the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for Peace Studies in hopes that I’d get a chance to teach history with a side of peace someday, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. 

At the height of my bewilderment and career uncertainty, some good friends invited me along for a 4-week trek along the beautiful and rugged southern leg of  the Appalachian Trail.  While packing for my trip, I recalled some research that habits take 21-30 days to make or break.  I wasn't sure if it would work, but here was my chance to really see what effects yoga could have on my body and mind. So I applied that habit-forming logic to my then sporadic yoga practice and decided to bring my yoga mat along, committing to practice each day on the trail. It’s been said, once true commitment is made, there is no more decision.

"Once true commitment is made, there is no more decision"

Max Patch, North Carolina (Appalachian Trail)

Max Patch, North Carolina (Appalachian Trail)

So I practiced following our daily hikes. I practiced in my tent during the pouring rain. I even practiced, or rather repeatedly tumbled, out of headstand in what I soon noticed was a patch of poison ivy.  I didn't always know what I was doing or what poses should come next, but I stuck with it. 

It’s hard to say what exactly happened on those rolling Georgia and North Carolina mountains, but a shift of perspective occurred. My body felt energized and refreshed - even after the most grueling of hikes. My mind felt clear and focused, despite all my uncertainty. It soon became evident that the rewards of my commitment far outweighed the effort. Before our mountain adventure was complete, I made another decision. I wrote it down in my journal - in indelible ink - that I was to teach yoga of all things – and I haven’t looked back since.