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5 Things I Have Learned After Teaching Yoga for 5 Years

Today is a BIG day for me.

Want to know why?

I am celebrating my 5-year anniversary as a yoga teacher. So to celebrate, here are 5 things I have learned as a full-time yoga teacher of five years:

1. You are capable of more than you imagine.

Before she began working with me, my private student Diane was told by another yoga teacher that she would never be able to balance in Ardha Chadrasana (Half Moon Pose). Diane doesn’t have any injuries or conditions that would prevent her from practicing the pose, it’s just a challenging pose for her (heck, it’s challenging for a lot of folks).

After working with me one-on-one for 18 months, Diane was finally able to balance in that pose!

Injuries and underlying conditions are one thing, but don’t let anyone- a yoga teacher, or even yourself- tell you what you are capable of.

2. Yoga is an ultra marathon, not a sprint.

Many people come to yoga to increase their flexibility, improve balance, and decrease their stress. There’s no quick fix for those goals, or for many of the other reasons people come to yoga.

It took Diane 18 months to stay 5 breaths in Ardha Chandrasana. It took me 3 years to get my pelvis to the floor in Hanumanasna (full front split). Just a few weeks ago, I realized I hadn’t raised my voice at my children for months. Molly worked with me for 8 months when she realized events that would have sent her spiraling before weren’t affecting her as much.

You won’t get those benefits by popping into a yoga class every three months. You need to show up, consistently.

3. Yoga is for everyone.

You do not need to be bendy, strong or thin to practice yoga. You don’t need to be calm or focused to practice yoga.

Yoga asana is incredibly adaptable, and yoga offers so many other tools outside of the poses. I have a student with chronic pain whose practice is pranayama, rolling on tennis balls, and floor-based strength with lots of rest built into the practice. I have another student who does most of his practice in a chair. It’s all yoga.

4. Many people carry deep hurt.

Prenatal yoga, postnatal yoga and private yoga are all much more conversational than your average yoga class, so I hear a lot.

There are many, many people who are dealing with invisible illnesses, trauma and pain. You would never know it by looking at them.

Be kind.

5. Presence is powerful.

Yes, I help my students with their goals. I have helped students reduce their stress, I have helped students achieve difficult poses, I have helped students improve their balance, and I have helped students improve both flexibility and strength.

But the most powerful thing I do is offer my students my undivided attention, and guide them to offering that to themselves.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they just listened to you? They didn’t pull out their phone, or check their smart watch. They didn’t offer you advice, or turn the conversation toward themselves. They just… listened.

It’s powerful. And I give this to my students every single week.

Whether it’s finding a yoga teacher who will hold space for you - or, a trusted friend - you need someone in your life who will listen.

Thank you for trusting me to guide you through your practice over these last five years. I can’t wait for the memories to come.


Private yoga teacher Mary Reddinger offers an assist to a private student in an outdoor class


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