I’m so excited: I expressed interest in my local yoga studio’s yoga teacher training program (YTT), but have been waiting (for what feels like forever) to see if the instructor/owner could get enough students….too few and it would be a “no go.” Today she let us know IT’S A GO!!!!!! In September, I’ll start their 6 month YTT program!
Last day of my adventure here in Greece and tomorrow I will officially be a certified yogi :) Oh life, who would have known I’d swirl out all the way here! And little me, how happy I am you held on during those dark, hard days when you just wanted to fold it and give up. The adventures awaiting for all of us are worth sticking around for, I promise 💙🌎
10/17/17. This mornings sunrise was over too fast. We usually don’t get to see very colorful sunrises here but this morning was really beautiful. I see it as an positive omen for the start of my yoga teacher training today.
"Being a yoga instructor is the hardest job in the world"
My mentor said this our first night of teacher training. He was being 100% truthful. I’m a believer now. Being an instructor means you are in charge of a room, in charge of knowing about various injuries, body types, ages, skill, all the while calling out a class. Let’s not forget adjusting bodies in a way that enhances their practice, keeping track of time and music, moving around the room to adjust lights and drapes. Keeping track of the breath. You have to know people inside and out in addition to the asana.
“If they have a bad class it’s your fault. If they have a good class it’s not you. It’s the yoga.”
My mentor also said that the first night. If you have a big ego you probably shouldn’t be an instructor.
It’s been a rollar coaster getting from that night to this one, now a certified teacher. There isn’t really any preparation for what will happen during your training. It’s hard (really hard) and a lot of work that will end up feeling like the most rewarding work of your life. I went through the highest highs and the lowest lows. I loved yoga and then I hated it for being such an intrusion on my life. I was happier then sadder than I’d ever been. Even I was annoying myself with the mood swings. My body was exhausted, my stress levels were off the charts and I was trying so damn hard to do the entire thing the best I possibly could. I forgot to breathe and that’s the most important part!
About the 8th week in I hit a groove and stayed there the last couple weeks. There was a crazed sprint right at the end. And then it was over. Huh. Just gone. This HUGE piece of my world was complete and I hit a crazy low. That’s part of what you don’t know going in. I had no idea that the studio would become a second home and, even more so the people in it would become family. Vital. You dance your last dance at the graduation party with your fellow yogis and then you teeter off on brand new teacher legs and it’s a whole new challenge. One I am so, so glad I still love.
I got on my mat today and just took a regular class. No, trying to take in every minute detail as a teacher, but as a student practicing yoga. Fuck I love this.
I want to teach because I want to gift this back. This Yoga thing that stole a big piece of my heart.
I’ve spent the last six hours months compiling reflections of my teacher training and yoga practice. It’s currently forty-four pages and over 14,000 words of pure heartbreak, frustration, solace, joy and love and it’s not quite done, but just about. For now.
This week I’ll pick a day and I’ll take my final exam and then I will package everything up and share it all with my teacher.
And I just wanted to say thank you, friends, both of the Internet and of real life, for being a part of this little adventure so far and being my sounding board through one the hardest and most incredible things I have ever done.
There are a few things they don’t tell you before you start a yoga teacher training. One is that it’s going to ignite your jealousy, because you’re going to be competing against your friends for spots to teach. It’s going to fill you with insecurities and then it’s going to help you chip away at them and then just when you think the hardest part about teaching is getting over the fear, a million other logistical issues will come into play and then that fear will slip back in. It’s going to make you pick a side, then pick the other, then embrace both, then neither, then come up with something entirely new. Because it’s going to make you question just about everything, including yourself. It’s going to shine a light on the conflicted and dynamic and flawed being that you are and if you aren’t careful you might stare into the light instead of seeing where it leads.
And this is a story of how I found myself getting blinded.
Until recently, it was unclear to me how non-existent my threshold for the sting of failure and rejection was. Looking back, in high school I was consistently the president of something; scholarships and awards for essay contests and photos and whatever else rolled in on a regular basis. I got into every college I applied to and after graduating I interviewed at just one company before landing a job. I avoided romantic relationships I couldn’t start and end on my own terms (read: I often avoided relationships.) I worked hard, but I was also born into fortunate circumstances, so very little kept me from being able to do whatever I wanted.
I had a plan for over the past year and I felt good about it. For a while, everything felt on track and like clockwork I’d make these connections and get the feedback I needed and I’d think, I got this. But I realized as my yoga teacher training ended and people asked me over and over when I’d start teaching and the days that followed turned into weeks, and then months, and checkboxes remained empty and no’s and non-responses from various directions were slipped under the door, that really, fuck if I had a plan. Life has the upper hand on plans.
I’ve spent many months pursuing something that brings me the greatest joy I’ve ever known. It’s also been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. In the midst of going after it and in battling my own insecurity about the pace in which I was doing so, and my ability to ever really succeed (in the sense of the word as I came to define it), I busied myself with handfuls people and things that would never come to work out. Most of which I didn’t particularly care about ever working out. But because the last 25 years left me unfit for the crushing pain of what I perceived as potential failure at something that mattered so much, I pursued other possibilities for affirmation.
These distractions delivered some sharp, and dare I say, creative rejections from all over the place. One came recently in a public forum. Words that said, “You’re not good enough and never were and I think very little of you. So little that I won’t even say these words to your face.” I told a friend about it and one of the first things she asked me was, “Did you cry?”
Like every other time, I hadn’t. I’d said my peace and then I’d hiked at the top of a mountain and saluted the sun at the Pacific coast.
A few days later, I found myself sitting on my mat at the studio across the street from my office after a long day. I was mentally reviewing my list of requirements left for the teacher training: two more classes to observe…two more to teach…read through the study guide before the exam… I was looking at my instructor. She was talking. I wasn’t listening.
“Which all fits into this idea of non-violence, otherwise known as…Kelly?” She looked at me, smiling.
She was asking me because she knew I’d done the training. She was tossing me a moment to establish myself as a teacher, to shine for her so that maybe when she was out of town one week, she’d ask me to sub her class. But I was somewhere else, staring at empty boxes that needed checking, blinded by the to-do-ness of it all.
I looked back at her and said the first yoga word that came to my mind. It wasn’t the right word.
Another student chimed in: “Ahimsa.”
Ahimsa. As in the journal I used to write in every morning but had been too busy to touch in several weeks. It’s where you write things you will say, think and do to promote non-violence and goodness. It’s where I’d scribbled the names of people and things I considered my personal failures in an effort to stop tormenting myself over them.
Then we pushed back into our first pose and I felt them: tiny oceans welling up in my eyes. And you know that feeling of being terrified to blink? Of please just let this salty liquid soak back up into my eye sockets and disappear?
In that moment I realized that in all my effort to try to succeed at what I loved, I’d lost sight of why it was so important.
And the tears of rejection and failure and not-good-enough were all catching up at once, while doing the only thing that was always going to be there, no matter what or who else wasn’t.
As a massage therapist, I have spent plenty of time around people who do energy work. They do Reiki, they balance Chakras and such; they say things like, “I can feel how your Chi is bunching up over here.” And I have just never been that girl, you know? I have in the past really not felt any energy. Since I’ve been doing Thai massage, I’ve started to feel it some. But pretty much, I’m not the girl who says things like, “wow, did you feel how dark her energy was? Like, she needs to unblock her upper Chakras.”
But today in YTT, I felt it, and it was crazy. We did an exercise which went like this: Person A spends 3 minutes talking about something that they often say “no” to or some part of themselves which is not fully expressed. I talked about how I suck at doing housework, and how I can not figure out how to improve that situation. Then person B puts her hands gently onto person A, like, onto her knees, and spends 1 or 2 minutes there, while inwardly repeating the mantra “I receive the already-present Divinity in this person.” LOL SO CHEESY I KNOW.
But okay, so I am sitting there, and my partner, my yoga teacher Ashley, is resting her hands on my knees. And first I was overwhelmed with the need to weep and a few tears squeezed out. Then that subsided. Then I became aware that Ashley’s hands had come to the same temperature as my knees, so it started to feel as if her hands were melting into me. So I was just observing this sensation of the boundary between us disappearing. And then she moved her hands slightly. And I straightened my spine and turned my face up. And then I felt as if my third eye opened up and a ball of white light emerged and was shining down between Ashley and me. You know how you can see light through your closed eyelids? Like that. So I just sat there, feeling this weird feeling, and a few moments later the leader called out to wind it down so we could switch roles. And the light sucked back into my third eye and went back to normal. Yeah… I know… WTF. Too strange.
And then we switched roles. So now I’m resting my hands on Ashley’s knees and I feel myself sort of bowing down in front of her. Then I felt myself straighten slightly, sort of extending toward her, and then I felt her energy open up like the door of a furnace. It was just roaring around me like a hot summer wind, like I could almost feel my hair blow back from it. I have never felt anything like it in my darn life. Now I’m writing this out, I note that straightening the spine accompanied both moments. Interesting.
So that was my afternoon today. Almost too weird to believe. I mean I am the most pragmatically non-New-Age person ever to do yoga. I don’t even know how to process this experience!