My yoga teacher smokes- lets talk about balance

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Written by Sarah Scafidi-McGuire

My Yoga Teacher Smokes.  It sounds funny, but it’s not a joke.  This discongruity, which is all over life, makes me laugh.  My fabulous, fit, wise, compassionate yoga teacher rolls and smokes drum cigarettes.  And guess what, it’s fine.

Living life is all about finding balance.  And finding balance is hard. In fact, perfect balance is basically unachievable, right?  Maybe we achieve balance for a split second, and for that split second we are at complete peace with ourselves and the world.  But then, there’s a thought. Did that thing I say yesterday make that person I said it to uncomfortable? Am I being productive enough at work?  Why do such terrible things happen to such good people? What should I make for dinner? Why do assholes rule the world? And, alas, we are back to riding the turbulent waves of life; trying to find our own way, trying to find balance and peace.

The fact that my yoga teacher smokes drum was at first a little tough for me to hear.  I had put her on a pedestal. She was awesome, even seemed perfect to me. But then I realized how beautiful this juxtaposition was.  You can be healthy, but still have a bad habit. You can be kind, but still say hurtful things from time to time. You can be amazing- you no doubt, are.  But no matter how amazing you are, you will still be awkward and uncomfortable, ordinary and, yes, boring sometimes.

Because finding balance is so hard, we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves for being off balance.  We shouldn’t feel bad for having days when we just can’t seem to figure it out. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up for having vices, whatever they may be; for doing things without thinking them through at times; and for making normal human mistakes.

What we can do is continue to strive to be better.  Think about the consequences of our actions. Pause, and breathe, and reflect.  Practice gratitude. Practice spreading love and joy. The real controversy of our times is not the juxtapositions in this life. It's what we do to move forward.  It’s when we don’t recognize our own humanity, the trouble and inconsistencies, as a part of it. The trouble is when we aim for perfection instead of awareness. The trouble is when we fail to practice compassion, for others, and for ourselves.


About the author:  

Sarah Scafidi-McGuire, RYT, has been teaching Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga since 2005.  She has trained with Tina Stroh at Just Plain Yoga in Camp Hill, PA; David Swenson in Asheville, NC; and the fantastic teachers at Ambaa Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga Montreal in Montreal, QC.  Sarah was introduced to yoga while in high school and has been practicing ever since. She likes the way practicing yoga leaves her feeling completely content. Sarah is inspired by her teachers and her students.  She lives with her family in an off-the-grid, energy efficient home in Canton NY and spends most days with her two sons.  Sarah enjoys the outdoors, especially running, going to the beach, and rock and ice climbing.  She teaches Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Little Lotus Yoga for Toddlers classes.  She also organizes and teaches 'Yoga in the Park' at the Canton Farmers' Market.

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  • Lovely essay, Sarah! Just what I needed to hear.

    Kiley on

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