Becoming Your Own Expert
I’m standing at the front of a class full of students, teaching yoga: something I did several times a week between 2008 and 2013. I’ve given the students a choice of three variations on a single pose.
One of my regular students, a woman I’ll call S., raises her hand to ask a question. “Which variation should I do?” she asks.
I reply: “I don’t know.”
For some teachers, this is a danger zone. Not knowing. Not being able to give a student an answer. Having to admit that we’re in the dark. For me, this not-knowing in front of my class feels what I’d describe as, “pleasant neutral.”
When I tell her I don’t know, S. knows what I mean. She smiles, nods and returns to her practice, choosing one of the poses. And this is success for me, as a teacher.
I don’t have all the answers.
I hope you know that. But more than that, I hope you know why.
It’s not that I am keeping these answers a secret. Instead, I choose to believe–and ground my teaching from this understanding–that I am not the expert in you.
I can offer several choices. I can ask insightful questions. Or point out patterns that I observe. I will sit with you while you discover the answers or the solution for yourself. These types of support I freely offer.
You are the expert in yourself.
This expertise still takes work. It takes trial and error. It takes experimentation. You (as much as I) need to be willing to make mistakes and to be wrong sometimes.
But ultimately, you are the expert in yourself.
Only you know what it truly is to live in your body, to have your mind, to experience your emotions, and to be your spirit.
I can be a guide. I am happy to point the way or to share bits of wisdom that I’ve gathered along the way. What I teach is a combination of my training, what’s worked for me in the past, and what I’ve seen work for others.
Only you can truly know what you need in a moment.
Because only you are your particular expression of the universe in this time and place. Only you carry your memories and experiences and culture. Only you have your particular hopes and dreams and sorrows and challenges.
Each one of us is unique.
This means that our work is not to get it right, but to become scholars of ourselves.
It can be a lifelong process, but it is a gift to do that work: to become expert in who we are and what we need. To have visceral understanding of what feels good and rightful.