A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending the weekend with my friend Steven, who is currently working as a plumber’s apprentice at Chuck’s Plumbing in Tampa, FL. While at work, he wears a well-equipped tool belt, a tattered, dirt-stained pair of jeans, and a shirt with a dried mustard stain near the left breast pocket.

Steven’s scruffy appearance portrays a mechanical man whose sole interest is quickly and efficiently fixing broken pipes, but beneath this rugged exterior lies the essence of a true Yoga teacher.

Our typical schema of a Yoga teacher may be a man or woman sitting in full lotus with their spine erect, eyes closed, chanting, “OM.” Or perhaps an attractive woman with tight “yoga pants” standing on her head and telling us to relax and breathe.

Regardless of outward appearances, the inner essence of genuine teachers of Yoga will always shine through. Although Steven works as a plumber’s apprentice, he listens to each of his clients’ needs with patience and compassion. Even if a pipe has burst and a house is flooding, Steven can calmly run to a valve and stop the problem in its tracks. If a client is not completely satisfied with Steven’s work, he gratefully accepts the criticism and utilizes this opportunity to perfect his craft, in turn satisfying the client and easing their concern. With even the most challenging of projects, Steven remains in a state of meditation, methodically working, analyzing, troubleshooting, and altering his approach until the job is complete.

Steven does not teach postures in a yoga studio, but he is one of the best Yoga teachers I have ever met. Through his soothing, tranquil, and compassionate character, he teaches Yoga. When he interacts with others, he leaves them in a calm, relaxed state. Essentially, by solely staying true to this character, Steven practices and teaches Yoga, even while wearing the hat of a plumber’s apprentice.

From Steven, we can learn that no matter what our profession, or what we are doing throughout the day, we can all practice and teach Yoga. Whether we are practicing postures in a yoga studio or cleaning up after our children, we can do so in a relaxed state, all the while being compassionate toward ourselves and others.

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