Learning Through Teaching - How LoveYourBrain has impacted my life as a teacher

The first time I had ever heard of a “traumatic brain injury” was when a student of mine had experienced one about a year prior to coming to my aerial yoga class. She did not seem to be any different from anyone else in my class. One day she would approach me and tell me her experiences. She had difficulty remembering how to write some letters, making it difficult to sign in. Her mind-body connection was something she was re-learning, however, to me it appeared to be simply like new student struggles. The kinds of things that I take for granted in and of my own and others’ body.

She and I became close friends, and have remained so ever since. A couple years afterwards, I was approached by Kate, the studio owner of Blue Buddha Healing arts, to do a special training. Thinking of my friend, I graciously accepted her offer. One of my favorite parts of my profession is that it is easy to fuse it with a form of activism. I had already been working with vulnerable populations, how different could this be? Very different by far. Not in a bad way, but in an amazing, perspective way.

When I went to the Love Your Brain teacher training, I learned just how many people are affected by TBI (traumatic brain injury) and how unaware most people are about it, including people who had and are experiencing it. That was one of my first wake-up calls. Next was the variety in complications that occur with TBI. It would seem, no TBI is the same in one’s body, but also the thought of the people who care for people with TBI had never occurred to me.

I taught my first group for Love Your Brain, and I could not have even been close to prepared for how impacted I would be. The tenacity, strength, ups and downs of the people we were working with was beyond my emotional scope until then. The gratitude and resilience of this group was something I would learn from. I am so inspired by this group that I do my best to remember, no matter my circumstances, not to take the support I have for granted. That my own resilience is there, and whatever may happen I will adapt and move forward, (and that it is okay to have struggles from time to time.)

As a teacher, I am more aware of ways to adapt my own lesson plans to be more universal. Beyond that, I live more aware that I can very easily be altered by a TBI in my own body. My favorite consequence of teaching for Love Your Brain is how open my heart has become. The value of connection is not lost on me. We usually walk through our days, unaware of just how closed off we are to each other. Seeing and being part of the TBI community, my eyes have been opened to how those who are affected are aware of their boundaries and how it affects their lives. No matter no big or little their boundaries are, I feel awareness is beneficial to everyone.

Facilitating yoga classes for Love Your Brain, has impacted not just how I teach yoga, but how I go about my daily life. A student in my first group shared a story with me, about resilience. He said, imagine if you start out as a wine bottle at a beautiful sea-side dinner in Italy. You become empty and a gust of wind knocks you off of the table, into the ocean, and you shatter. As our new form tumbles on sand and in waves, you transform into something new. You will never achieve the form you once were, but you become something completely different, just as beautiful and enriching for yourself and those around you. You have become sea glass, to be found, revered, and enjoyed as you enjoy that which is around you. This could be related to any experience in our lives. I try to adapt this philosophy, and embrace it. I am so grateful to my experiences this year and am looking forward to more, always.

Sat Chit Ananda, No matter who you are, where you are, what your circumstances are we are all full of truth, knowledge and bliss. A pretty epic perspective to carry with you. These concepts are how we transform ourselves and how we transform our world.

-Jackie Maloney, LYB Certified Yoga Instructor