When I signed up for my yoga teacher training I was mixture of elation and fear. I just knew this was what I wanted to do. But I also didn't feel good enough, or ready or qualified. But, somehow, I signed up. And I showed up for that first day. And I sat in a room of professional dancers, former gymnasts, personal trainers, cross-fit enthusiasts and I thought to myself, "Well... every class needs the odd man out. The misfit."
Because this was a class on yoga and not a "best looking, most flexiblest, strongest, person in the class" contest, I found real and sincere friends. And I grew and I loved it. For the first week I tried to act like I was a health nut. You know, that I didn't ever eat junk food, or wheat or carbs or anything. And then I realized that I was working 40 hours a week and in class 30 hours a week and I was exhausted and tired and damnitIwantmycheetos!
And that is when I started showing up as myself. Myself was a little bit quieter than that "other girl" I was trying to be. She was more confident in some ways, and less confident in others. But most importantly, I kept showing up. Terrified and feeling fraudulent and not up to par, I SHOWED UP. I brought my eating disorder, depression, anxiety, self consciousness and fear with me. Like very unwelcome guests. And every day, as I learned what a pose was and how to teach it and how it worked, I tried to dismiss those unwelcome guests that followed me everywhere. Some moments I was successful. Others I was not. But I was learning.
And then came the day, that final day. The day we were to teach the full sequence to people, like it was a real class. Like we were real instructors. I was blessed to teach two older ladies. That was my hope. I wanted older ladies who I could be sweet and gentle too and guide them through. I didn't want some athletic person who could do more than I could. I didn't think I could handle that. Teaching those dear ladies went pretty well. All the same, after the teaching I went to my mom and told her about it, crying, because I felt like such a fraud.
And after the training ended, I couldn't face a yoga studio. I couldn't fathom teaching. I felt like such a fraud. What inner peace did I have to offer? How could I demonstrate strength when I didn't feel like I had any? Not to mention I didn't look like a yoga instructor. Lulu hasn't made a bra that can keep the "girls" from coming out to play during down dog. I have child birthing hips. My grandmother lovingly told me I was built like a solid pioneer. Solid-pioneer looking women don't teach yoga. They push handcarts and chop down trees and bear many strapping sons. They don't gracefully jump into a handstand. Pioneer women are no nonsense. Yoga has to have SOME nonsense. Some fun. So WHAT WAS I DOING HERE?!
And then, my husband said that I HAD to do the internship. As absolutely terrifying as it was, I HAD to do it. Because I deserved that opportunity. And so I did it. And I wore my mask of confidence and said I would teach classes. Secretly screaming inside that I was a FRAUD.
I taught my first REAL class. How? I don't know. Divine intervention? Breathing. Lots and lots of breathing. And love. Love from my husband who believes in me when I can't. Love from my teacher who was there and made me feel comfortable. Love from a friend who showed up because she knew how scared I was. Love, people. It really can move mountains.
I might feel like a fraudulent teacher, but I am comfortable being a student. I know the benefits of yoga. I know about breathing and centering. And I work on that all by myself, with the help of teachers, every day. And I don't have it mastered even one little bit.
Not only that, but I can't do a headstand. Or a backbend. Or bakasana (crow pose). The last time I tried an arm balance I face planted it. In front of everyone. I literally laughed to keep from crying. I laughed with tears in my eyes and humiliation in my heart. What kind of yoga teacher can't even jump up to her hands? Me. This one can't.
And that is how I knew I should be a teacher. When I accepted that I had no clue, that I didn't know what was going on. I might be able to tell you 20 different Sanskirt names of asanas. I might know the proper alignment. But anyone can know that. I show up raw and broken and scared to my mat every day, because I know that I will leave a little more healed, a little less scared and stronger. And if I am this scared and this broken, then there are others. Because we are all human, and we are all hurt and we are all struggling.
I can teach how to breathe through the panic and the pain because I have. I have too, to make it through every day. I can teach how to breathe with movement because I had to learn to not hold my breath when I moved. I can teach how to become comfortable in your own skin, because I relearn that lesson every day.
And that is why I teach. Because I only came back to class when my teacher saw my divine light and said she missed it in class. Because my divine light has been dimmed and blown on and spit on and it has never gone out. Because it is divine. I am divine. Like every other person. And so, with my tear filled eyes I will see and recognize and honor the divine light within you. And I might not be able to headstand or handstand, but I can STAND. And I will. At the top of my mat. I will show up for myself. And I will show up for you. And we will OM together, and join our broken hearts through movement and breath, and that will start to heal this broken world. Because that is what yoga is all about.