Monday, September 14, 2015

have you ever felt like an imposter?




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,






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Kelly said...

I really identified with and enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing!

Art and Sand said...

We all need to be honest, especially with ourselves.

I love that you opened up because I imagine your honesty helped others. When I was the oldest, almost, in the classes for my masters degree, I was comfortable enough to ask questions. So frequently, a classmate would whisper, "I'm so glad you asked that. I didn't understand, but I was too afraid to ask."

Listen to your body and enjoy each step of your journey.

Lori said...

Goes to show that as together as some people look ~ we all have a story to tell. Hope your back is feeling better and that you all band together to help each other. Sounds like quite a group. xo

Cathi said...

I hope your back does get better soon. I think it's wonderful that you went out of your comfort zone and are going forward with the training. I started a month or so ago with a personal trainer with a lot of yoga mixed in and I really enjoy it. I have done yoga on and off for years and am by no means any sort of expert but it makes me feel good and I have met some great people in my classes too. I am definitely the oldest too and you know what? I don't care one bit! :). Good luck with the class!

Sarah said...

Best advice is to only do what you are comfortable doing. Don't force your body into a pose that doesn't feel right. I think yoga is all about listening to your body and moving at your own pace. Enjoy the process or the journey is appropriate.
Hope your back is stronger and less painful with each day. Be careful and take care.

Blondie's Journal said...

I think you have more of an open mind than anyone I know--if I can say I know you! I love how you approached this and kept it real for all. We don't want to listen nor learn from perfectionists. Human nature is something we can all identify with and own.

Hope you feel better soon! ")

Jane x

Denise said...

as someone who has gone through a teacher training, I can attest to the fact that you opened yourself up to probably the most accepting group of people you will probably every meet! good for you for being brave :)

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

I'm sure your sharing with your class helped some of the others anxiety, too, Leslie. If and when you start teaching yoga, you'll have empathy for your students who suffer from back problems. I admire your bravery to attend the class, but you are a young 50 something, and by the looks of your mother, you'll be hip hopping around for a long, long time!

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

I love your honesty, Leslie! I can't tell you how many times I was going one way...only to have things turn out in a completely different, but better, direction that I never saw coming. You are wise to stay open to new paths and what is coming your way!

Veronica Roth said...

You know, I think that's wonderful. For so long now I thought about a teacher's training course, but am never sure if it's something I actually want to know, to teach rather than to practice in a class. (And, of course, there's the several thousand dollar commitment for the certificate course, and I keep thinking that, if I had a spare several thousand dollars, how much more I could do with it, lol) But I completely understand your fish out of water feeling. I had that same feeling when I decided to take a Bachelor of Art Communication degree at 46 with a whole class of 20 somethings. But it only took a little while and I felt right at home, like I belonged. So I took the four years, completed a degree I really wanted before I turned 50; a useful wonderful degree rather than the completely useless B Sc I did at 18 fresh out of high school. The CMNS training has opened up a world of media, TV, radio, magazine work and has benefited me countless ways. I bet that at the end of your training, and as you move on along your teacher's journey, you'll be ever so happy and proud that you did this. Big hugs, (but not too tight so your back doesn't hurt)

Karen said...

I too have a back that has been a problem most of my adult life, so I completely understand and admire your fortitude in going forward with the class. I love adventures where you might have wondered your wisdom in participating and then, in the end, find it to be one of the richest experiences. I believe, from reading your posts, that you will be such a great yoga instructor!
I hope your back is completely free of discomfort by week's end.

Unknown said...

Do you know Leslie, I've got a feeling that you will finish it...honesty, is so refreshing isn't it? Oh, how I wish I was there with you...your class sounds like an interesting group of people all with their own reasons for being there some to teach some not; the perfect mix. Looking forward to hearing more. I think you're fabulous, with or without a bad back.

On another note...I have a new url to my blog it is : you can sign up here for notifications too; the old link just takes you to the old post. Would you be kind enough to change it in your blog roll?
Thank you so much my lovely, fellow yogi xx

Debe said...

You really are a rock star! Isn't it nice to be able to shed the insecurities of youth. Tell it like it is and then find out there is reward in that honesty. I am so proud of you! Just wish I could take a class with you when you are ready for that! I so enjoy reading your view on life. Bless you!

cindy hattersley design said...

I am completely impressed that you are pressing on. I would have "chickened" out and given up! Do listen to your body and don't do anything to jeopardize your health however!!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Leslie, you are my hero. You are out there trying something totally new and exciting and you are being completely honest about yourself and your insecurities and yet you are accomplishing a new dream! How wonderful! There are so many women, young and old, middle age that never speak their mind or follow their dreams because they don't think they can do it, or they are too big, too small, too old and so on and so on....

And yet, here you are. I think it is fabulous to be at a point in your life where you can be HONEST! I am there myself and it feels good after 48 years!

You are never too old to set a new goal, live a new life, or have a new dream!

Enjoy your adventure and your journey and thanks for always being so honest! It is refreshing and inspiring.

michele said...

oh leslie, i honor your transparency and sense of humor in light of the crazy timing of your back thing. oy! just think about how sharing this story with future students someday will put them at ease and truly capture the essence of what it means to pace yourself and take good care of the body you've been given. i just know this chapter is meant to teach you more than you can imagine. i am cheering for you. i am proud of your courage. and i am so happy to be following your journey. peace to you right where you are.

Donna@anangloinquébec said...

No matter what our age, most of us seem to struggle with revealing details about ourselves that may make us feel as though we are less qualified or worthy while at the same time opening us up to criticism ... both silent and expressed.

But Leslie you are showing all these people around you that life moves forward and we make choices to continue to live life to the fullest capacity that we are prepared to embrace. I love that about you and this journey. So happy to follow along.

Stonecropsister said...

Hi Leslie,
You are funny, the situation wasn't funny, but your take on it was. I like how you wanted to keep painting. Man, you are an A personality! That is wonderful that you finally told everyone what the deal was with your back. It must have been difficult but liberating as well. I wonder if it gets easier if you do it more? It has to be better for your physical and mental health if you are just honest with stuff, right? But boy, it sure takes courage sometimes, to trust that it will work out in the end. xx Nancy

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