I almost loathe the word expert. It’s tossed around so willy nilly that people talk to me and consider me an expert on gardening or worm composting but if you looked at our garden, well, you might think twice about listening to my advice. I’m still trying to figure it out.
Occasionally someone will call me a yoga master and as I appreciate the compliment I remind myself that I know what seems like nothing. I may know a little more than you but that just means I’m a step ahead. If you want to be where I’m at just take some time and practice after reading a few books. The words expert and master exist in some relative space. It only means something in context. Next to the average guy in the supermarket, sure I’m a yoga expert. Stand me next to BKS Iyengar and I know nothing. I can’t even stand on my feet correctly.
What I know comes from books, asking questions, google, reading and study but the heart comes from my own experience. There may be better ways but I’m not aware of them. If I did, that’s what I’d be teaching. When I lead student through a yoga pose I’m leading them through what I do. Over time the yoga of teaching gets stronger and with feedback I’m more aware of the nuances in their practice but what I know, in my heart, is my practice.
How does someone become an expert? I think you continue to grow, push and explore. Being an individual means you take your own path, not someone else’s. My students are told time and again that it’s their yoga, not mine. I will lead you through to the best of my ability through what I’ve done but you must make the practice your own. Yoga is about feel. I can’t teach you to sense every nerve, cell and nuance while breathing into it. That’s you. Your job. I point the way, you walk.
Knowing the boundaries and parameters of bodywork means well, honestly folks I’m a snob. I hate using that word but it’s as if I’ve been working and cooking in 4 star plus restaurants and someone wants me to pretend fast food is high cuisine. I’m picky about bodywork and with a public who may not have explored the work of massage warehouse surplus may be fine. That may work well and be what those people need. I offer more. There are days I wish I could receive my own bodywork.
Mastery is the word I prefer. I’ve achieved a level of mastery. Granted I’m not even sure what that level is. I’ve never completed Bikram’s yoga in totality through a sequence. For six years I’ve worked and I still cannot hold all the balance poses, go deeper into some etc. It’s fine though, having heart and perseverance will beat out any in born skill over time. Tortoise and the hare.
Currently my level of mastery means I want an audience. I want people to listen. I wish for students to sit and ask questions, let me talk and converse with them on the state of our health care system. Yoga and bodywork are a solid foundation along with local food to base your health upon. There will always be more. Being an expert and developing mastery mean this, you’re painfully aware of the limitations of your knowledge. That is where I am. Painfully aware.