The first thing you see on the home page of my website is my mission statement. In one sentence, I tried to capture 3 things:
- Intention – why I teach yoga
- Method – how I achieve my intention
- Benefit – what I want my students to experience
“My mission is to help students nurture their body, mind, and spirit by clearly and compassionately guiding them through a yoga practice that is skillful, intelligent, and enjoyable.”
It took a lot of time and effort to come up with this! I had to reflect on the last six years of teaching and distill all my experience into one statement that can clearly express who I am as a yoga teacher. My style is not for everyone. I needed to define my yoga offering so students can decide if I am the right teacher for them or not. More importantly, this was an exercise in self-knowledge and self-evaluation. I needed the clarity for myself. I had to put into words why I teach yoga in the first place and how I intend to share this practice to benefit others.
So, let’s break it down:
Intention – “…to help students nurture their body, mind, and spirit…”
I teach yoga because I want others to experience the gift that my yoga practice has given me – SELF-CARE. In a previous article, I wrote about how yoga taught me the importance of self-care and made me see my tendencies towards over-giving and self-neglect. “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” has been a helpful reminder to me that I need to take care of myself first before I can serve others. My yoga practice is my way of filling up that cup so I have something of value to offer others. This self-nourishment is what I want for my students when they’re on their yoga mat.
Method – “…by clearly and compassionately guiding them…”
Being a clear and compassionate guide means expressing myself in a way that makes students feel safe, confident and accepted. I do my best to give precise instructions and effective cues. In my classes, all levels are welcome and I provide many options for poses to allow students to work at their own pace. I encourage people to let go of competitiveness and harsh judgment as they breathe and move mindfully. There is no need to force ourselves into shapes that are not right for us. In yoga, we cultivate kindness to ourselves and honesty about what we need in the moment.
Benefit – “…a yoga practice that is skillful, intelligent, and enjoyable…”
Most people come to yoga to take a break from mental activity but the practice can also be a place of learning and discovery. I want my students to master skills that will enable them to practice for a long time while staying free of pain and injury. I also want them to learn beneficial techniques for relaxation and stress relief. Intelligent exploration in yoga means having a practice that is not only physically sound but is also conducive to emotional and psychological growth. Most of all, I want my students to have fun! I want them to look forward to their time on their mat. Your yoga can be a way of expressing creativity and playfulness. Enjoying your practice is also about being comfortable in your own skin and being grateful for everything your body is able to do.
This is my mission. If you teach yoga or any other mind-body discipline, I highly recommend writing down your mission statement. This exercise will give you clear direction as you navigate life as a teacher in a constantly shifting yoga landscape. The words in my statement might change as my own personal life evolves, but one thing will stay the same – I will continue to share the wonderful practice of yoga with as many people as possible for as long as I can.