The Vision

My father used to tell me "Liv, you can’t just be a yoga teacher". I started teaching yoga in college. He told me it was a phase. I believed him so I took a job right out of college running a psychology lab at the University of Vermont. It was a great job and good work for a potent study. I lasted two weeks in the basement office. I quite and decided teaching yoga was not a phase.

When I took my first asana class at sixteen, I knew I would teach. I had a vision very clearly. I remember the moment well. At the time though, I believed it a silly random fantastical moment of my mind. I snuffed it off and kept going to class. It was, however, a vision. Or I should say more accurately, part of a vision.

I have always had other interests. I was raised going to the ocean and mountains. I ran around the backstage of Baltimore’s community theaters. I was a food snob and Jewish deli maven from the time I ate solid food.

And, the kicker, I was a figure skater.

Like for a long time.

Like I thought I was going to the Olympics.

By the time I had the afore mentioned vision regarding yoga I had already come to understand that the “vision” I had of being the next Nancy Kerrigan was less of a vision and more of a delusion. So you can understand why I was so ready to ignore this very clear image of myself as a teacher of yoga.

Mostly my love aside from moving my body, has always lay in the humanities; art, English, history, religion and psychology. For a while there I wanted to be a museum curator. I could look at slides of paintings and buildings all-day and hear the stories of the artists. To me, each painting, each sculpture, each building told a story--a great big myth to compliment this world. To analyze the meaning of a work of art was like explicating a physicalized poem. (oh, did I tell you I also wanted to be a literary critic? I thought that would be fun too for a while. I mean, I do love judging and analyzing and lord knows I am good at it.)

When my life went to shit and I needed Help rather than hiding in books and stories and memorizing dates and artists, I was struck by the potency of practicing yoga almost daily and going to therapy regularly. I loved walking through museums but no museum was as interesting to me as the relics discoverable in my body and mind and as gorgeous as the strokes of feeling brushed across the canvas of my heart. 

I should also tell you as a child I wanted to be a meteorologist. I called the weather multiple times a day (well that was when you could call the weather). I had various weather and storm chaser kits and even a one-way radio that told the weather of the surrounding area.

More than a decade later, I am still teaching. Though I don’t have to teach as many classes a week (at one point I taught sixteen between yoga and wait for it....spinning.) I have broken myself, hustled myself, been disillusioned and disenfranchised. I have fallen in love with yoga and hated yoga. I have fallen in love with myself and wanted to divorce myself. But somehow I have refined my teaching and guess what, my pops was right all along. I am not 'just' a yoga teacher. It really is so much more than that.

I track the ever-moving weather patterns of people’s emotions. I help people build one-way radios to their souls. I am a lover of movement with a lot less delusion and hopefully more vision. I see people as works of art and living myths. The shapes they make and the ways they express themselves is not a museum of the past but the right here and now moment of being alive. It is shared experience with evolving meaning.

I see all my passions converge in my work now as yoga teacher. My father saw something in me from the time I was little. He knew I was a historian. He knew I was an artist. He knew myth and story would save me like it did him. He knew I was smart and clever. And he knew I am defiant, resistant and divergent as all hell and so if he told me I couldn’t just be a yoga teacher forever I would go right out and do it.

Thanks Dad.

And to all of you, you are not “just” a yoga teacher either.

*for fathers day 2014*

Livia ShapiroComment