After a Decade, I’m Still in Love With Yoga

Being a full-time yoga teacher doesn’t have to mean losing passion for your personal practice.

Deven Sisler is a Wanderlust Mentor. Join her and other luminaries at a festival this summer! Find out more | 2016 lineup | Buy tickets   

After a decade in the yoga industry I still love practicing and teaching. It’s my full-time job and my career. Don’t get me wrong: It hasn’t been all rainbows, unicorns and (vegan) chocolate chip cookies—I’ve been disappointed, disillusioned, broken, and burnt out more times than I can count. I decided to embark upon my first yoga teacher training in 2006 because I was in love and wanted to do as much yoga as possible. This was my reality during the teacher training itself, but the romance didn’t last long. Facilitating 15–20 classes a week to make a living in New York will quell the honeymoon period for any teacher!

That’s not to say that I don’t have a special relationship with my practice, nor that I don’t love my job. It’s taken me a decade to learn that balance is as essential in my profession as it is on the mat. Are you a young teacher teetering on burnout? Here are five ways to keep the love alive.

Find Your Breath

When you lose your way, find you breath and place your attention—your full complete and utter attention—on your inhalation and exhalation. This will anchor you to the present moment. The essence of yoga is distilled down to this one, most intimate relationship: you and your breath. Through asana and pranayama we are able to get more closely acquainted with breath and discover the subtlety in this connection between conscious and unconscious control, between the respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine and nervous systems of the body. Let breath inform you and initiate action. Notice when you lose your breath, when you are holding your breath, when you catch it, when a moment takes it away.

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

Let Your Body Lead

Let your practice ignite childlike curiosity and joy around how your body moves—the level of inquiry and curiosity of your practice is constantly deepening and expanding. Have radical gratitude and compassion for where your body is the moment you meet the mat. We can think about poses and where we want our personal practice to grow, but the magic of yoga is that there must be a commitment to physical engagement. The art of yoga is motivation in action. What your practice of physical asana looks like can only be defined by what your body needs, let go of any external influence, do not compare yourself to anyone else, and listen deeply to your personal expression of each pose. This exploration is the gateway to teaching others.

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.”
– Letter from Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille

Keep Your Teachers Close

A true teacher is someone who sheds light in a place where there is none, who helps you see what your potential is, who supports your discovery in knowing what you don’t know you didn’t know.  The moment you are in the presence of a heart teacher, you should feel all at once inspired, challenged and in the comfort of home. When you find this person, keep them as close as possible. They will continue to light sparks of inspiration and keep you on the right path.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Find Your Tribe

The community you surround yourself with is not limited to your friends, family and colleagues, but also the music you listen to, the shows you watch and the authors that write the books you read. Examine if they are committed to growth and transformation; how can you meet your community with compassion if they aren’t? Be intentional in surrounding yourself with inspiring music, thought-provoking words, and mindful people. Allow them to support you in their own way and prioritize time with those that support you to shine more brightly.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw

Be Mindful

At the heart of many meditation practices is the concept of mindfulness. Mantra and meditation can help harness the distracted thinking of the mind and create a greater awareness around the present moment. This intentional process allows us to let go of anxiety, worry and cultivate gratitude more for the present moment. Each moment, each cup of tea, book read, dish washed and clothing folded can be an act of yoga— union of the mind, body and spirit through breath and movement. Find your practices and commit to them with loyalty.

“Without giving up hope—that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be—we will never relax with where we are or who we are.” ― Pema Chödrön

devenA senior certified AcroYoga teacher Deven is known for her joyful, playful approach to partnership and collaboration, and her articulate teaching. An E-RYT 200 and CRYT yoga teacher, she has trained with international master teachers for the past 12 years in yoga, thai massage, and acrobatics. An outdoor enthusiast, she weaves her experience and on and off the mat into creative, relaxing and inspiring classes for adults, children and families. Her perspective through the lens of yoga and acrobatics heightens kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness; it cultivates trust, communication and community building. She offers a holistic approach to exploring biomechanics and the subtle body through movement, sound and her training in Body-Mind Centering.