Why Do The Work?

2 Comments 28 April 2014

why do the workBy Michelle Marchildon.

Inspiration is Inside

Why is it that when you are in a hurry and you really need to find something, it seems to be missing?

One time I was frantically looking for my sunglasses before I could drive my kids to school. I was almost in tears from frustration, when my son said, “Are you looking for the ones that are on your head?”

Um, yes.

Like our keys, or sunglasses, we know our inspiration is around here somewhere. But often when you need to use it for a class, it suddenly seems to go missing.

How do we unlock the mystery of staying inspired and connecting our yoga mission to our students?

We Have To Do the Work!

There is no shortcut to creating great yoga classes. There is no magic wand that if we wave it, and click our heels together, our class will roar with intention. There isn’t a pill, or a magic potion, or even a Yoga Fairy Godmother. It just doesn’t happen that way.

We have to do the steady work of understanding who we are, and why we teach, in order to create great yoga classes.

I find it so interesting that the number one criticism of Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is this:

But you don’t give us any themes!

I say right up front: If you want a list of theme ideas, turn to the back page. However, they won’t make any sense to you, or be inspiring, unless you understand your mission on the mat.

Why are we so reluctant to do the work? I don’t think it’s because we’re lazy, or rushed. I think it’s because doing the work often means going inside and understanding more about who we are, and sometimes, that can be painful.

Why are you teaching yoga?

Chances are you got into teaching yoga because you had something to say and you wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. And for a while, you wake up inspired and excited to teach. Your students are thrilled and your classes are full. And then one day, you hit the wall.

Teaching is a practice too.

I believe that every teacher has a unique message they want to communicate in a class, and a unique reason why they teach yoga.

For some of us, self-acceptance rings true. For others, it could be empowerment, or, finding order in a messy world. Other reasons could be self-worth, or connecting to community.

The first step to finding the themes that work for you is to find your specific yoga message.  I call this a “Yoga Brand,” or more simply, your mission on the mat.

You want to discover why you teach, and boil it down to a few words. This way you are clear in your intention.

Some “Yoga Brands” or Reasons to Teach Yoga:

  • I want to help students heal their bodies.
  • I want to help students find more peace in their lives.
  • I want to show students they are strong and capable.

Once you clarify why you teach, you will quickly understand why some themes just don’t work for you. I frequently hear from teachers that when they theme they feel inauthentic, or that they sound like a yoga phony. Often this is because they picked the wrong theme.

For example, if you are a natural “healer,” then choosing a theme about being curious is not going to be a good fit. The “curious” theme is better suited to teachers whose mission is to expand horizons. And vice versa, if you are an empowering teacher, then speaking about love may feel insincere.

Once you figure out exactly why you teach yoga, then it is easier to find the themes that are more authentic to your path.

You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Why do I practice yoga?
  • Why do I teach yoga?
  • Who are my favorite teachers?
  • What are the messages that inspire me?
  • What messages inspire me the least?
  • What kind of students are my favorite and least favorite?

The answers to these questions reveal a path to your mission on the mat. Once you discover it, it will unlock your inspiration. You will consistently choose themes that support your yoga mission, and you will never again have to ask, “Where did I leave that inspiration?”

Because you know, it’s around here somewhere.


Michelle Marchildon at typewriterMichelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is an award-winning journalist and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga, and Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga. She is a Columnist for Elephant Journal and a Contributing Editor for Mantra and Origin Magazines. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches Hatha Yoga in Denver, Co. You can take her classes on, or

Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Shena says:

    I laughed re sun glasses as I and I am sure a lot if people have done things similar. The thing is I seem to take this to another level and have lost left hundreds of things, coats, jackets, bags, bras pant, 100s of scarfs and glasses you name it I have lost it. I have for years wore odd earrings for the reason I have lost so many. The upside if this is when I lose something like a recent beautiful scarf I got in India I just apresiate that I wore it and liked it for 18 months it was in my possession. I have tried putting statergies not to lose things but it does not seem to work. I am espeshily prone to lose when excited and happy which happens often after participating in a yoga class ( Acro is my latest favourite) .From all this loss ( which after all is only superficial losses ) I have learnt Non Attachment I also think it may be because I tend to live very much in the present so forget the past which maybe the glasses I leave on the train ( Hasen to say I now buy pound land glasses . I have been teaching Exersise for 30 yeasts on and off and yoga 10 years but not yet met the brick wall but hay I might have mist it going by.

  2. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Me too! Sometimes I think my things are just passing through me temporarily, and not mine at all.

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