Confessions of a Yoga Teacher

by Sadie Chanlett-Avery 2
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Sadie Chanlett-AveryThis October marks my tenth anniversary of yoga teaching. After thousands of classes and individual sessions, instead of Namaste bows how about a round of high fives? Truth be told, during my initial years of teaching I felt like a fraud. I didn’t live up to what I considered a “real” yogi. Here’s my story:

My teacher, Glenn Black, introduced me to the deeper enclaves of yoga. I met him while working for room and board at a Costa Rican retreat center. He taught me during his month-long sabbatical and then invited me into his course the following month. With remarkable precision, creativity, and insight, he lead our scrappy, eager class through eight hours a day of asana, kriya meditations, and the possibilities of human movement. The intensive study transformed my consciousness as much as my body.

I returned home with high expectations for a yoga practice. I vowed to wake up at an ungodly hour like 5:30 a.m. for hours of meditation and asana. The first teaching gig started at 8:45 a.m. so I’d set my alarm early but repeatedly hit the snooze button. I ended up with enough time for breakfast before heading out. I held the romantic notion of a solitary yogi who perfected asana to prepare for more esoteric, advanced meditations. I told myself I just didn’t have the discipline.

Yet, it was easy to pack my gym bag and go workout after class. As I tinkered in the gym with yoga and traditional fitness, I kept signing myself up to be a student. From somatic psychology to pole dancing to corrective exercise, I found different approaches to movement fascinating. Through my Masters in Holistic Health Education and ten fitness certifications, yoga served as my common lens and continual practice. I now realize how much I need a consistent influx of educational inspiration and a community to keep going.

I now alternate days of swinging kettlebells with dancing, crawling, and lunging through yoga poses. The asanas continue to reveal their secrets and quieter meditations refresh my mind. From the boisterous to the subtle, the yoga I found isn’t about being an isolated ascetic. It’s about skillfully stewarding my energy. In the messy context of relationships and earning a living, I live a modern version of what the traditional yogis called a “householder.”  I’m so lucky to learn and teach yoga, but always after I eat breakfast.

Sadie Chanlett-Avery is a yoga instructor and holistic fitness trainer who grew up barefoot on a farm in West Virginia. As a chubby kid she felt awkward on the co-ed soccer team and clunky in dance classes. By adolescence she gave up on organized sports and became increasingly sedentary... more »