super star divine goddess teacher

This piece also appears on elephant journal. Happy dance. Check it out over there too :)
photo from bouddha.

You don’t need to be a super star divine goddess of perfection to teach yoga. You don’t need to be able to do handstand effortlessly in the middle of the room for five minutes before you feel like you can teach. You don’t need to have every single skill or experience on the advertisement for your dream job before you apply for it. You are always good enough in every moment to go after and get what you want so long as you believe in yourself and your ability. Know that.

Most of my upbringing emphasized the need to be so outwardly fantastic and to hide all my flaws that I never wanted to try at anything because perfection isn’t something I’ve had for even one day. I’m clumsy. I’m quiet. I’m tall, black, and nappy. I know these things are beautiful now but I certainly did not always know this.

Can you look at yourself differently? Can you see your weaknesses as strengths and teachers?

My clumsiness is a sign of my journey, never a sign of my lacking grace. It was only through the practice of yoga and bodywork that I realized that my balance issues had much to do with alignment issues deep in my muscle and faschia and the way I had stored energy and emotions in my body than anything to do with me. My quietness is a sign of my power; never a sign of my being less than. It has strengthened my ability to observe, my ability to listen to my intuition, and has given me such a better understanding of myself and others.  My ethnicity is a sign of my uniqueness; never a sign of my not fitting in or not being welcome. It was only after going to countless non-diverse yoga classes that I realized that my ethnic differences from most of the students was not a hindrance but a gift. I could bring something new to my classes. I could reach out to a demographic that for so many reasons has not fully embraced yoga yet.

Never listen to outside sources who tell you that you are ready or not ready. Always look within and listen to yourself. Only you know when the time is right.

A year and a half ago when I was in my kundalini teacher training, I had a guest teacher who I had a private healing session with who told me that I was not ready to teach. He did not know me. He had not seen me teach. He had not seen me in my practice. He was seeing me during a bad break up and a bad financial and professional point in my life, and he was judging me and limiting me and I let him. He told me what I had been telling myself all along: I was too quiet and not good enough to teach. He told me the immense work I would need to do to become good enough as a person and a teacher instead of just telling me to believe in myself. That really was all I was missing.

I did not need to become perfect to teach. People don’t relate to perfection. They relate to realness and humanness. They relate to your strengths and your weaknesses lesser strengths. Why call them weaknesses when they’re not weak? They’re areas that we need to look at differently and place more emphasis and energy on. It’s the effort of embracing our strengths and lesser strengths that allow us to become whole and shine. What isn’t beautiful about people who can embrace every aspect of themselves and make things that are not as strong seem just as beautiful and strong by the complete acceptance of who they are? That’s unconditional love. That’s absolute surrender.

If there’s something that you’ve been holding back from doing or trying, look within yourself and ask yourself: Am I truly not ready for this or am I holding myself back out of fear or shame? Sometimes, maybe we’re waiting for a supervisor or someone close to us to tell us we’re ready. We could be waiting for that validation forever. Have the courage to tell yourself what you need to hear. Believe in yourself and go after what you want right now. What’s the worst that can happen by you trying? Certainly, you’ll have a better outcome than when you don’t try at all.

Let the things you call weaknesses or mistakes be your teachers. Never let them hold you back. The only way to truly be a super star divine goddess teacher or person is to be yourself, to teach from your experiences and your voice, to stay in the present and never allow yourself to be limited by the past, and to keep removing the layers and obstacles keeping you from being yourself.

— lissa

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11 responses to “super star divine goddess teacher

  • Nancy A

    oh hell lady… if I had to be perfect to teach I would have NO job. yesterday I taught a huge class and told them to do balancing table with arm and leg lifted on the SAME side. They all tried until someone mentioned I had said it wrong. You know what we did: laughed about it. life is too hard to try perfection at everything and to encourage your students to be happy with their flaws is a gift. No yogi is perfect, it is call a practice after all.

    sounds like you’ll be a fantastic teach!

  • melita

    wow, this is such a powerful post. and just like nancy said, we all mess up – just make light of the fact that we are human and move on. i’m someone who teaches with humor to begin with so i’m definitely not afraid of laughing at myself. :) hugs and _/\_ friend!!

  • Lorin

    This is a beautiful post, Lissa. I am just so sad that someone would think that is an ok thing to say to a budding teacher with so little to go on. I’m glad you were able to get past what he said and see what you have to bring to the table.

  • lissa

    thank you so much for your comments. it took a while to get beyond what he said, mostly because it was the same thing i was saying to myself. the whole experience taught me so much though about the power of believing in yourself and how much that single act can transform everything in your life.

    yoga is a practice, a beautiful practice. why would we want to be perfect anyway — there’s no growth or humor there.

  • keishua

    another great and inspiring post. I love how you articulate the connection between life and teaching. I know in academia many teachers try to separate themselves from life and present this perfect person in front the classroom. The best teachers I have had are grappling with life and teaching from the heart. I think quietness is a strength and should not be underestimated. I would love to take one of your classes!

  • Elizabeth

    you are already a beautiful, beautiful teacher — i learn stuff from you every day! i most love teachers who are really, authentically themselves — like you. oxox

  • Thais

    Lissa this post made me cry. Exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you for your words<3

  • Meredith LeBlanc

    I am grateful you didn’t listen to the guest teacher. He gave you permission to challenge any doubts you may have had about yourself and it made you stronger. I would have done the exact same thing had someone told me I wasn’t ready.


  • melissa

    im printing this out and putting it in my journal. you are a courageous and powerful beauty and a true inspiration. so glad and blessed you followed your inner guide and found your path. you are a true blessing and such a soulful teacher. xo

  • lissa

    thank you so much for all your lovely comments & feedbacks. i had a lot of doubts for a long time about my ability but i’m tired of dulling my shine for others. this conversation inspired me to submit this article to appear on elephant journal for more people to read it. i’ve wanted to write for them for a while and this gave me the courage to go for it. so thank all of you so much for that!

  • Tara SG

    I had previously decided to wait to save for yoga teaching training until I had seriously practicing longer. Until I was “better”.

    I’m making an envelope labled YTT and putting back tips every night starting tonight :) Thank you.

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