No, I Did Not Get My Master’s Degree to Teach Yoga

I have been wrapped up and distracted by a job that I may or may not get, purely based on state mandates and certifications. All of the interviews, constant resume rewriting in attempts to appease state officials, lengthy phone conversations with the man who is fighting to get me hired have eaten up a tremendous amount of time. This job would partially encompass doing dance/movement therapy with adolescents. For those of you who do not know, dance/movement therapy is a form of psychotherapy that utilizes movement to help people develop greater emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration within their lives (you can check out for more info). I received my master’s in dance/movement therapy four years ago. I have not officially been a dance/movement therapist for approximately two years now. In my last conversation with the man who is pushing to help me be hired he said, “This job could really help you get back on track. I’m sure you didn’t get your master’s to teach yoga and I can’t imagine that’s what you really want to do.” An intense, burning anger started to rise in me when he said that. When I feel myself getting mad and defensive it is always because the person has hit upon some kernel of truth. He is not the first person to question my completely leaving a career I went to graduate school for. Did I get my master’s degree just to teach yoga? No. When I embarked on my journey into grad school, and then into the working world doing what I had been educated and trained to do did I envision it all falling apart? Absolutely not. Have I spent the last two years grappling with stray pieces wondering what the hell happened? Every day.

I did not respond to his comment that I did not get my master’s just to teach yoga and that probably wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Let him think that, he is not alone. He is partially correct; I did not get my master’s to teach yoga. When I got my master’s I had no idea I would one day be teaching at the studio where I regularly practiced. My master’s degree enhances how I approach teaching my yoga classes and allows me to bring a depth that many yoga teachers cannot. I am able to hold the space and carefully attune to what my students are communicating through their bodies. I take note of postural differences, areas of tension, moving more quickly or more slowly than usual, pushing past their limits or backing away from their limits and incorporate all this into how I structure my classes and what I say during my classes. I teach poses and safe alignment, but my therapeutic lens is always there, ready to give me a slightly different perspective. I fall in love with teaching yoga a little more with every class I teach. Teaching brings me great joy. I have learned things about myself and life through teaching and interacting with my students that I probably would not have otherwise learned. I take classes from many older teachers who are in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. I want to be just like them, full of life and vitality, energized by the gift of being able to share something they love with others on a daily basis. I want to spend my life teaching yoga. That is not something I came to lightly, there was a lot of inner turmoil surrounding that personal truth. Maybe at the end of the day my anger and defensiveness at this man’s comment stemmed from the fact that it took me two years of teaching to finally be able to fully honor that I love teaching yoga and I want to spend my life doing so. Maybe it also stemmed from the fact that when we veer off more traditional paths and manage to stumble upon happiness people in this society don’t really know how to acknowledge or accept that.

About djunapassman

I teach yoga, write, and edit. I live in a Brooklyn neighborhood that is changing faster than I can, or care to, keep up with. It's basically gentrification at its finest. Manhattan still beckons me to her island a few subways stops away, reminding me of when I lived amongst her daily hustle and bustle.
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4 Responses to No, I Did Not Get My Master’s Degree to Teach Yoga

  1. After reading your post I’m curious as to if you may possibly regret getting your masters because you do love teaching yoga. And I think regret may be too strong a word, possibly, find it unnecessary? Teaching yoga is such a skill that few people can do well, and I can bet that by doing so you are helping people in more ways than you realize that are similar to what you got your Master’s degree to do. So who cares what others think about utilizing or not utilizing your masters? If you love what you are doing and believe it’s important (I think it is) than continue doing it.
    Best of luck!

    • djunapassman says:

      I definitely do not regret getting my master’s degree. Through school, internships, and work I met people who are now so close they are like family, I learned things about myself and grew in ways I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, and after working in a large city hospital I took away an immense sense of gratitude for all that I have in my life. I think you are correct in that by teaching yoga I am helping people in ways that may be similar to what I had initially hoped to do through dance/movement therapy. Just last night I had a student come up to me after class and say, “I came in here so angry, but after all of the stretching and breathing I feel calm and like I can sleep peacefully tonight.” I have been focusing my dharma talks on aparigraha (non-hoarding or non-greed) this month and a student came up to me before class and said, “I finally had an aparigraha epiphany.” We had a beautiful discussion about being grateful for all that we already have. I too believe teaching yoga is important and these small moments are a reminder of why I love yoga and why I began teaching.

  2. kwarren1970 says:

    I too teach yoga and have a Master’s degree. My degree is for my full time job. But I do love to teach yoga on the side. I think having an education definitely contributes towards who you are as a person and your personality and who you are reflect in your teaching.

    • djunapassman says:

      I fully agree that we bring all of our education and experiences into our teaching, whether consciously or not, and that they enhance what we have to offer our students.

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