While most people who teach yoga started out on a common platform, it’s what they do when they are certified and actually teaching that makes their story interesting and useful. Most likely we started teaching because we hoped to share this profound, life-enhancing practice with others. As witnesses to the vibrant clarity it adds to our own lives, we enter the ranks of teaching to more fully embody the truth, health, wealth and beauty inherent in the millennium-old science and share it with others: we are on a mission. Armed with a 200-hour teacher certification sheepskin, fledgling teachers then pursue a wide variety of paths, both personal and private, in pursuit of making those dreams manifest. The journey can lead to success as a teacher in studios and one-on-ones, but it can also thrust us down new roads we couldn’t have foreseen, bringing with them a variety of experiences that shape us more even than our best-laid plans could have.
One such San Francisco teacher found herself at odds with her own life circumstance, and through honest talks with her then-husband, co-maneuvered a divorce which has left them both happier and more vibrant as individuals. Erica Jago had been teaching in small studios and out of her home, and then ventured then on an Eat, Pray, Love odyssey of her own, without a six-figure book deal, the alimony, the home in Connecticut, or any other comforts. She went to Europe to study and teach, alone and vulnerable to the winds of change. Like taking your handstand away from the wall the first time, she jumped into a world of new commitment that challenged her to the core, and left her stronger, more vibrant, and more suited to the path than before. The thread that ran through the chaos that tied the pieces together in the end was, no surprise, her practice.
1. What have you been doing new in your classes?
2. How is your own yogic path maturing or changing?
April last year, I took off on a journey to teach in Amsterdam, practice in France and then visit family in all parts of the United States to hold a two day, Purification workshop. I was influenced by all the festivals I attended; Wanderlust and Beloved, and I had my first rites of passage at Burning Man. Now I’m running full speed ahead towards the divine and will be teaching and practicing yoga philosophy in Oahu.
3. Tell us what’s on your calendar for the rest of 2011.
I’m in the middle of writing and designing a book with Elena Brower, called The Art of Attention : Practicing Perfect. This work is new for me as I recently transitioned from graphic designer in an engineering firm and teaching yoga part time to being a full time teacher and designer. I was able to mirror my life in the same way that I practice, which has actually inspired the layout of the book! My passion lies in the design and communication as much as the teachings themselves. It gives a unique voice to yoga that is instructive, inspirational and beautiful.
4. Describe something a student taught you recently.
Can I describe something that ten students taught me… just this week?
5. How are you a different teacher from a year ago?
I have a record of all my sequences titles I designed over the past 2 years. I see themes like Facing your Fears, Burning Through a Breakthrough, Generating Energy and Heart Courage. I see with clarity how those themes were a catalyst to my life today. I leaped from a 10 year career into the role of full time teacher to do design on my own. I focused my energy on a dream of writing a book – now I’m co-authoring and designing a book, I am empowered to travel, and I am living life with more fluid creativity.
If you would attend a class of mine today, it would most likely be a thematic sequence on Transformation, Empowerment or Finding your Voice; direct experiences of my past life. Just the slightest bit of attention placed on those intentions and the body responds by opening and expanding and we go from being just this form on the mat, to more of a resonance that can always be tuned and refined. Bringing my presence, my capacity and the honesty of where I stood and where I wanted to go—releasing the blocks, the pain, the suffering and offering up my unique light took courage and pure faith. I want to give in each of my interactions this intellectual attention: the earth, water and fire that emanates out of all of us and will only magnify under our own choice to stay embodied to inspire us, others and yes, the world.
6. Tell us what you’re looking forward to–yoga or not
I’m looking forward to travelling in India, publishing my first book, and the shift into 2012.
7. Are you writing anything?
Yes. I’m writing and designing new class sequences each week.
8. What are you adding to your classes? Taking away?
I’m adding more electronic, ambient and meditative music to replace songs that have English lyrics. I’m adding more breath work, mantras and will be channelling the vortex of energy around each chakra.
Please subscribe to this column, and follow me @ilfauno.