The other day I was working on yoga school homework — writing my teaching bio (the sort of thing that might someday go on one of these pages) — and I had this fleeting, but intense moment of panic:
Me, a yoga teacher? In your dreams! Who would ever buy that?
See, the thing is:
- I haven’t been formally practicing yoga for very long (a year-and-a-half to be exact, plus the semester-long class I took in college).
- I walked into It’s All Yoga 50 pounds heavier and with exponentially less confidence and self-awareness.
- I’m firmly established as part of the IAY community as a student, not a teacher.
- I still get nervous when teaching groups.
- I don’t look like a stereotypical yoga teacher.
(Basically, my inner gremlins decided to have themselves a field day.)
I want to be a yoga teacher.
When I started this whole yoga teacher training adventure, I did not expect to like teaching. Sure, I knew that I would love immersing myself in the study of yoga philosophy and learning about how to safely contort my body into various new shapes. But teaching — I never anticipated that I would enjoy that part.
Yet somewhere around the middle of April, something shifted. I stopped thinking about teaching and I started doing it. I jumped into the deep end and discovered that I could swim. And yes, teaching is still utterly nerve-wracking, but it’s scary in that “you’re glad you did it and feel pretty awesome afterwards” kind of way.
Recently I even found myself admitting to a several friends: I would like to teach yoga.
Oh wait, that feeling like a fraud thing…
Despite my desire to teach, as I was writing my bio, my gremlins would tell me things like “your buddies from the yoga studio are going to read this and think — who does she think she is, an actual yoga teacher?” Or that “the IAY teachers are going to have a ball laughing at your bio — they know you’re not an actual teacher.“
I started to wonder whether I was a fraud. Whether the answer was to run away — to go start fresh at some other studio where they don’t know my back-story, where they don’t know that I’m still a yoga-newbie, where I could create this “fabulous yoga teacher persona” right off the bat.
It comes from within.
At the end of the day, it’s pretty clear to me that the only person I have to convince that I’m a “real” yoga teacher is myself. If I own that role — if I confidently present myself as the person leading class today (and that confidence is supported by a reasonable amount of skill) — if i believe that I am worthy … I cannot be a fraud. If I’m pretending to be something I’m not, we’ve got a problem.
And the thing is, there will always be a list of stories that I can tell myself about why I am not worthy of this role, but it doesn’t take much to turn those stories around and look at them from an entirely different perspective. For example:
- Whether you’ve done Downward Facing Dog 400 times or 4,000 times, it’s always going to be different. There is something new to discover each time, so in a sense, we’re all always beginners.
- I am living proof that yoga can be a transformational practice.
- I’ve gotten to know so many awesome people through the studio. I know their names and they know mine. If they see my name on the schedule, that might actually be incentive for them to show up.
- Nervousness is excitement without breath. If I remember to breathe and savor the moment, I will be good.
- I don’t look like the stereotypical yogi, but part of IAY’s culture is that yoga is for every body. How nice of me to demonstrate that fact!
And from that vantage point, it seems like I have a whole lot to offer.