Here's the deal folks. Teachers are people who have good days and bad days, who have light and shadow. Some days we walk into class minutes after being blind-sided by life altering news. Every teacher makes their own choices about how and when and if that is ever articulated. It is a razor's edge of a dance, because a class is not a teacher's therapy session, and yet, if a teacher has cultivated authenticity and deep connection with their students, then it would be out of integrity to walk in as if the world was all rainbows and unicorns.
Personally, I have in the past four years taught through some incredibly difficult situations and with each one I've become a better teacher and person by the process of alchemizing whatever it is quietly and in private, as well as vulnerably in the front of the classroom. My students have witnessed yoga in action (sometimes more skillfully than others) because I generally do not pretend it's not happening when I'm in the classroom. My students have known when my dog died, when my sister was in a coma, when my entire Anusara yoga world crashed and burned to the ground. I have sat in the front of the classroom feeling I had nothing left to give; and I have also taken deep pain, confusion, anger and alchemized it into the very power behind my teaching.
So the truth is, if you want to see yoga at work, don't look at glossy photos on Instagram but go to the class of a teacher who is in the thick of it, who is in the jaws of Kali herself and still stands before you with a raw heart and still in your service.
Yoga practice is not meant to anesthetize you, but to awaken you.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna declares to Arjuna "Yoga'stha. Stand in your yoga." And this is what helps teachers to rise to the occasion on days when their heart screams to sit down and rage at the machine. When Krishna is in the house, dharma--the absolute integrity of yourself and your unique offering of service--is the undertone of the day, and so when I hear "Yoga'stha," I hear, the call to stand in the authentic, real, raw self that must yoke itself to yoga in the messy, messy, messy and unbearably beautiful gift that is embodiment.
So we are sitting in the seam, between this and that, now and then, you and me. In the seam, we pause. We move, we act, we engage, later. Sitting in the seam is the place to find the clarity that your action is coming from integrity and not a reaction of fear or anger. Sitting in the seam is empowered yoga.
And if your teacher is sitting in the seam right now, as I am and as many teachers are, be spacious, because this is where the greatest teaching lies.