This past weekend I began the 200 hour Teacher Training Session for Vinyasa Yoga.
If you’ve read THIS POST you know all about it, along with the reasons why I hesitated to embark on this 10 week journey, but if you haven’t, I’ll sum it up for you in a few words.
I am a total Yoga newbie. I didn’t go to my first yoga class until recently at age 55— which basically means I’m still pretty clueless during class when it comes to the yoga poses. Yes, Upward Dog, Downward Dog and Warrior 1 and 11 are the basics I know. But after that I’m still looking at others to make sure I’ve got it right.
Not your idea of teacher material right?
But here I am.
So. How did the first weekend go?
Well. The craziest thing happened to me the Monday before I was supposed to attend the Friday evening orientation class. On that Monday in the middle of painting Michael’s bedroom I tweaked my back.
Yes. I know. What are the odds?
Right when I thought my weak lower back was doing so well and when I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d had something happen to my back, here I was feeling that hot surge of pain on my left side. And I instantly had that sick realization.
If you’ve ever pulled something in your back you know what I’m talking about.
Of course all I could think at that moment was, “Thank goodness it’s only on the left side, cause I can still paint with my right side.” And I actually finished his room going very slowly with lots of breaks and favoring my stronger right arm. And yes, I know what you’re thinking, it was dumb but I had this deadline in my head.
Still, I knew I couldn’t push it. I realized to get on the yoga mat would be risking real injury because I was literally walking around like a fragile 80 year old that entire week..
So fast forward to the Big Day. I enter the yoga studio on Friday evening with all the other smiling, nervous faces sitting in a big circle in the middle of the room and because of my back, I can’t even remember the last yoga class I’d attended.
Not to mention that even though my back was improving by now, when I saw the brown oversized pillows and blankets everyone was sitting on, I mentally began plotting out what position I could sit in before the aching would start.
Are you getting a picture here? I mean it’s almost comical. I’m finally walking into my class of strangers ---trying not to care that I’m the oldest one in the room and instead of feeling wonderfully self assured I’m trying to remember when my last dose of Ibuprofen was.
I mean seriously, could I sound any more Lucille Ball-ish?
The evening was primarily a three hour overview of the class with an emphasis on learning the teaching scripts and specific cues for the various poses. But as the discussion continued I noticed the butterflies in my stomach and my cheeks getting warmer. All this talk about teaching was raising my anxiety.
And suddenly everyone around the circle was starting to look like an wise, supple Yogi.
It also didn’t help that I was sitting here with my tweaked back visualizing all the yoga poses that I couldn’t possibly do.
Oh-oh. I actually remember thinking, “What did I get myself into here?”
Although later when I told the hubby this even I had to laugh.
“What did I expect? The damn course is called Teacher Training. Of course we’re going to practice teaching yoga,” I had told him. Duh. But during the orientation this was another small detail that made me feel like I wasn’t exactly fitting in here.
Everyone looked so ready to be a teacher except me. Was I just imaging this?
So when it was my turn to read the section on Teacher Self Care out loud to the group I stopped after I read the following words:
Honor your body and modify your practice whenever needed rather than risk injury. Pace yourself.
I mean how could I not tell the truth after reading such pertinent words?
So I basically addressed the circle and told them about my sore lower back and how I hadn’t been able to go to yoga lately and how my injury and my newness to yoga was making it really hard for me to see myself as an effective teacher.
I volunteered this even though I knew that in small group dynamics this was a point where people were still watching and gathering first impressions about each other. And the truth is, in my twenties I would not have shared this; I would’ve simply kept these insecurities hidden behind a tight, confident smile. But now in my fifties I just can’t do that anymore.
Now it feels far more important to keep it real rather than try to pretend I’m something I’m not. Regardless of what others think.
So I said it.
And afterwards I felt a tad vulnerable, but mostly I felt relieved.
Since this orientation we’ve had ten hours of class time and I’ve discovered there are others with ‘bad knees’ (my gifted instructor) and ‘bad backs’ and that offering modifications to poses are called ‘adjustments,’ and are exactly for those bodies that have some wear and tear on them. Bodies like mine.
I’ve also partnered with another student who is only taking this course to deepen her practice rather than teach. So I’m not alone.
And during demonstrations I’ve heard lots of confused questions coming from others. A massage therapist who has a lot of worry about understanding the material.
There’s a confident biologist who has a mother dying of dementia who got teary when she shared her tendency to be hyper-self critical. And how yoga is helping her.
There’s a big, gentle bartender who sounds like Omar Sharif in Funny Girl and is relatively new to yoga. And there’s the owner of the studio who is taking this course because he wants to expand his teaching methods. And he’s refreshingly open about the experience of being a beginner again.
I guess I’m not surprised. This is what we learn when we get beyond superficial appearances. There’s just real people with their own beautiful vulnerabilities.
Meanwhile I have another night of class tonight. And although I still can’t imagine getting through this course and everything it entails, I’m aware that the lesson for me is not focusing on the end, but instead staying here in this “now” place.
So I’m taking it one day at a time.
The theme of today’s yoga class was surrender. Surrendering the things we carry around with us that no longer serve us in our daily lives, those aspects of our identity that keep us from connecting to the authentic true self inside us.
Today I’m choosing to surrender my need to know every darn thing. And at least for today ---when it comes to this Teacher Training course---I’m trying to stay open to whatever happens.
Peace and love to all my friends reading this,