This morning I pray to Ganesh, and all the rest of the gods, for a little help in getting through the next phase of training. No only have I not completed all the reading that I set my sights on finishing, my body seems to be rebelling about my recent leap forward into a fast-moving, full on, powerfully good and hot class.
As I sit quietly, my emotions as palpable as my pulse, I remind myself that all emotions are good. This fear, apprehension, feeling of defeat, and sadness is a valid and important as the excitement, anticipation, hopefulness, and pride for how far I have come (even if it is not as far as I think I should). The mixture of emotions is not all that unfamiliar to me. It’s a lot like the feeling I’ve had just before toeing the line for a big marathon where uncertainties about preparation, residual effects from injuries not quite healed, past races where my performance fell short of my goal compete with all positive affirmations and preparations put down to pave the way to success.
It is important to go into these challenges remembering that any and all movement forward is good. Just like missing the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon was not really a failure but rather another 26.2 miles of forward movement towards a goal, so too will be completing these 100 hours of yoga training. The time is NOW! Ready or not, here I go.
Lately, I have felt a lot like a turtle hiding inside my shell, just waiting for the right time to emerge safely. Like many turtles you may have watched, I have timidly poked my head out (into the yoga class and mysore setting) a couple of times and, a bit more frequently, let my legs explore ground (or mat).
Each time, I feel more and more courageous as I test the waters. I feel like, sometime very soon, I will be able to emerge from within and continue my journey at a slow but steady pace.
A close friend (aka my boyfriend) of mine teaches yoga at several locations in the bay area. He teaches all levels but seems to have his strongest following in the basic classes he teaches at one of the local fitness centers. The classes he teaches at the yoga studio have fierce competition in well established classes including Mysore. Last week, I saw him just after his evening class. He had only two students and was feeling dejected with the drop in numbers from one week to the next. “I’m just not good enough,” he murmured.
Of course, we all know that it’s not about the numbers when it comes to teaching yoga – at least not from the standpoint of how effective you are as a yoga instructor. I reminded him of the stories he had shared in the past month of students approaching him after his classes to share how the teachings he brought to class had made a positive influence in their lives on and off the mat. These breakthroughs physically, mentally, and spiritually are what initially drew him into the practice and are the reason he initially went down the path of teaching: to share “the benefits” with others.
The following day, I ran across an article Elephant Journal posted on their site titled “So You Want to Be a Yoga Superstar“. It reinforced the message that I had been trying to covey. I sent the link along with a little message of loving kindness. Too busy to read it, nearly a week passed and the message was still unread. Knowing that the article was not at all about being a superstar, which is certainly not my friend’s goal for sure. It was merely a reminder of everything he knew already, therefore he put off opening the link. I let it go.
Then, he was asked by the owner of the yoga studio to teach her class. She is brilliantly motivating and über awesomeness times ten. It’s a tough act to follow for anyone following in her footsteps and, in my opinion, just what he needed to push him to the next level in his calling to share his love for the practice. As the time for class drew near, he sent me a few text messages and left a couple of voice messages noting his nervousness. “You’ll be fine.” I told him. “They’ll love you, even if you stumble a few times.” I added, “If Jenn thinks you can do it, then you can do it!”
Of course he pulled off with only a brief issue with getting his music going. And this morning, I even saw a posting on FB from one of the students saying that his class was “great!”
While it is easy for me to note how my friend’s criticism and self doubt trips him up now and again, it is easier from me to acknowledge in him than in myself. How much of the doubts which have arisen around my ability to teach yoga is the result of similar self critique? Is it true that I have nothing to teach others? If that is the case, than why am I attempting to share the lessons learning on my journey here? Like my friend, I am not setting out to become a yoga superstar; I just want to share this practice with others.
Ten days and counting ‘till my next 100 hour teacher training session. I am cautiously optimistic about the progress I’ve made in healing from my latest injury. At this point, I’m trying to regain stability (on and off the mat) and rebuild strength. Of course it all boils down to a whole lot of self awareness.
Funny, I vaguely remember that “self awareness” was my little word(s) of the year. And where, you may ask, has that gotten me?
Well, I have certainly questioned the direction of my thought, words, and actions a lot this year. The process of trying to stay true to the “right path” – or discover it – has certainly brought me more awareness to areas that could use more of my attention. Even in navigating this injury, I have become more aware of just how valuable “right” thoughts, words, and actions can be.
Obviously, misinterpreting the body’s tightening as merely the result of emotional stress, therefore responding with more stretching and trying to push through it was a detrimental wrong action. But let’s take a look at thoughts: negative or positive, they have tremendous power. They can be the difference between curling up in a ball and crying it out (which I too have done), or figuring out who or what can help you.
Two wrongs certainly don’t make a right but… a few wrong mistakes can lead to a valuable lesson learned. Of course you have to learn from your mistake or it’s not quite the same. I’ve learned A LOT but I still have a lot yet to learn. If I never end up teaching yoga formally, I still think all of my yoga teacher training will help me to lead others in one way or another.
Therefore, as I pull things together for my upcoming training (carpool schedules, meals, reading, RECOVERY, etc.), I intend to do my best to maintain a clear sense of direction and positivity – even when I fall short in attaining my original goal. This is my path; it’s up to me to make it “right” [for me].
Let’s do it. Ten Days!!
Note: I’m still hoping that I will teach in the future.