Several years ago, I enrolled in Kundalini Yoga teacher training with the intention of “deepening my practice.” I had no plans to teach—ever! In fact, I had a long history of shying away from teaching, though I had studied education in college and at my late father’s urging had procured a teaching certificate for English 7-12. After graduation, however, I never used the certification, deciding instead to pursue a career as a writer.
In truth, the idea of teaching terrified me. During my college years, I was required to practice/teach English to a group of seventh graders. The experience (though the kids were sweet) made me sick to my stomach each morning. My hands shook and my voice quivered. Speaking in front of a class made me physically ill, and I vowed never to do it again.
Until…Kundalini Yoga teacher training!
Although I had absolutely no intention of teaching yoga at the end of the training, I realized that I would have to get through the practicums in order to pass. There were also occasions when we were asked to sit in front of the class of 15 or so students and lead an exercise or two. I forced myself to do what was required, all the while promising myself that once the training was completed I would never have to do it again! The majority of my classmates seemed excited about the prospect of teaching and had every intention of pursuing it afterwards. Not me!
But then, a strange thing happened. Because I loved the teachings of Kundalini Yoga so very much, and because our trainers and my fellow students were so incredibly supportive, I began to lose my fear of teaching. I also began to realize that, as Yogi Bhajan said, teaching was a great way to learn.
After I completed my training, I was offered a teaching position, and though I had my doubts, I accepted. When one studio closed I was surprised to find that I actually missed teaching and soon I was offered two more posts. Before I knew it I was teaching several Kundalini Yoga classes a week and saving up to purchase a gong. This was totally unexpected! Yet in many ways, I was actually enjoying teaching. I loved preparing the kriyas, the music, and the meditations. The whole process was personally rewarding and creative.
I’ve been teaching now for three years and though I still sometimes feel a bit nervous before a class, as soon as we “tune in” my worries gradually vanish. I think, in part, the reason I’ve changed is because of the connection to the Golden Chain. I no longer feel afraid or alone. I’ve also discovered that when one is truly passionate about a subject (as I am about Kundalini Yoga), teaching emerges naturally, organically, and from the heart. I don't need to obsess over everything or feel that I must perform, I just need to relax into the teachings and share them.
Teacher training gave me the tools and the courage not only to deepen my own practice, but also to take the leap into a role I’ve always avoided. Though my beloved father (once an educator and school principal himself) surely did not envision that I’d ever become a Kundalini Yoga teacher (Longfellow and Shakespeare were his gurus), I’m certain he’d be happy to know that I’ve finally embraced teaching as the honor and joy that it truly is.
Harjot Kaur (Kathryn Livingston) has been practicing yoga for more than a decade and completed her Level 1 teacher training with Gurudass Kaur Khalsa. She began practicing Kundalini yoga eight years ago; a breast cancer survivor, she found the practice to provide an inspiring source of courage, trust, and contentment. The author of the memoir Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman's Quest for Balance, Strength and Inner Peace (Open Road Media), Kathryn blogs frequently for Spirit Voyage. She teaches at Montclair Kundalini Yoga in Montclair, NJ. To contact Harjot http://www.kathrynlivingston.com [email protected]