In a few days I fly off for two weeks to begin yoga teacher training with my yoga home.
It’s not something I’ve taken lightly. I’ve thought about it so much. I first started looking at teacher training courses roughly two years ago. And each time I would dismiss the idea pretty quickly. For a long while I had a lot of excuses as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t do it:
- I can’t afford it
- I can’t do every posture perfectly
- I’m nowhere even near getting into headstand or handstand or toe stand or….
- I get shy in big groups and don’t do public speaking, so HOW would I stand up in front of a class
- I don’t know about yoga philosophy
- I was rubbish at biology at school – there’s no way I could get my head round the anatomy
That’s not an exhaustive list, but you probably get the idea.
Once I’d started practising regularly at Yogahaven I saw the course that they offered and my desire to do teacher training was reignited. How I would love to do that course, if only I could afford it.
For a long time, “I can’t afford it” was my biggest excuse. Then I got laid off from my job and got some redundancy pay. So I couldn’t exactly use the money excuse anymore. It’s not that I am rolling in money – it’s scary seeing my bank balance going down so rapidly, with no indication of when or if I will be paid for the freelance work I have done so far. But I instinctively know that now is the time, so I purposefully put some of that redundancy money into teacher training.
But then once the money excuse – my biggest excuse – was off the table, there was still something stopping me. What was it…? I was slapped in the face with the realisation that the money excuse was not my biggest excuse after all. My biggest excuse was:
I don’t look the way a yoga teacher is ‘supposed’ to look.
I felt genuinely shocked and rather disappointed (in myself) at this realisation. As a student I actually don’t expect teachers to look like they could grace the cover of Yoga Journal because in my view and experience what a teacher looks like has nothing at all to do with whether they are a good teacher or not. But I have overheard enough conversations in female changing rooms (not at my yoga home, I hasten to add) to know that some people do think very differently indeed. As dumb as it might sound it really made me doubt myself and question what ‘right’ I had to want to do teacher training. Yoga really is for everybody, but that’s not how it always appears. I’ve noticed that in the last several years especially, yoga has increasingly become more fashionable. And tied up in that I see certain images presented and certain expectations of how yoga practitioners are ‘meant’ to look. I was faced with this myself when someone I met was surprised to learn I practise yoga and actually told me I didn’t look like I had a ‘yoga body’. I thought about that conversation and wondered what the reaction would have been if I had said I was a yoga teacher.
All this concern about what other people might think made me seriously consider not pursuing teacher training at all. I confided in one of my lovely teachers about wanting to do the course and she was kind enough to give me some advice and really encouraged me. But still, I worked myself into such a state about asking Allie, who is the course director, about whether I could apply. In the end I just thought:
When did I start letting what I imagined other people might think stop me from doing something I really want to do? I thought I’d got past that a long time ago.
I’m so glad I got over myself and decided not to let my insecurity get the better of me. I know why I am doing this. And I know that I do want to teach and share the wonderful gift of yoga with others. But Allie gave us teacher trainees some really valuable advice – to see the course as a journey of discovery and not to get addicted to the destination of being a yoga teacher.
I’ve been putting quite a lot of pressure on myself and have become increasingly nervous as the start of the course draws nearer. Over the past week especially I’ve wound myself up into a bit of a panic about it – I don’t feel as ready as the old perfectionist side of me expects me to be. But when I feel myself getting overwhelmed I remind myself of Allie’s advice. I remind myself of the kind words of encouragement and support I have received from all my teachers – such goodwill which I appreciate hugely. I remind myself of how very lucky I am that I get to do this and how exciting it is.
This has been a pretty significant year of change so far. This is the next step in that journey. Yes, I do still have some butterflies about what lies ahead as I embark on teacher training, but now I can’t wait.