That's how many days until I start my very first yoga teacher training. And my feelings are...mixed. I'm not mortified or terrified, but I am definitely nervous. I was looking over the categories for the homework that will eventually be assigned (asana, philosophy, anatomy, etc) and when my eyes passed over "teaching scripts," I felt my heart jump into my throat and start to race a bit. The very thought of teaching--anything--kind of makes me want to run and hide. That's actually a general feeling about the training as well. I feel the general nervous that I usually feel when taking on some challenge/endeavor--fear of failure, not being good enough, etc. But I do know that somewhere inside me I am confident and I know that I will be fine. I've actually had experience teaching before--I had to teach and assist many classes in order to test for my black belt when I was younger. It was also my least favorite part of the preparation for the exam. That aside, I also spent the last 4 1/2 years giving "training" meetings to people at my old job (retail loss prevention) about shoplifter prevention, and other policy-type stuff. It took a good couple of years before I finally got comfortable with it, but it was still something I kind of avoided doing. I would do it if my boss asked me to, but I wouldn't make the effort to otherwise. But, whenever he did tell me to go out and do my meetings, whatever nerves I had settled once I started doing it and then I eventually didn't even need to consciously think about what I was going to say. I was just talking and sharing information.
So, I know that IF I decide to teach, I probably have the capability to do so. So, confidence is a small factor in the nerves but there is something else too: part of me just does not want to do this. Part of me is perfectly happy just playing on the Facebook during the work day at my new job, reading yoga blogs, just doing my own yoga practice and then going out and playing on the weekend (Saturday night & Sunday). Hiking, rock climbing...with summer coming I'm sure I would have found a way to go out kayaking too. I was always frustrated with my old job and feeling like I could never go out and do something during the summer, when the weather was nice, and now I'll be spending the majority of this summer in training. Part of me is getting very annoyed at feeling like I constantly have to keep putting my life on hold--can't do X because I have to go to class/study for an exam/research a paper/write a paper. Graduated from college: I can't do X because I have a broken foot and am on crutches/have physical therapy/hurts too much to move. Now that I finally have a steady work schedule and am relatively pain free (save the new shoulder strain from combining rock climbing and Ashtanga yoga--got some knowing, "I told you so" smiles from my yoga teachers for that one), I'm about to give away what little free time during the month that I want to be most active to my yoga training. Yes, I know that in the long run, it's not that much. It's not long at all, just 5 months: April 22-August 21; 6 Friday-Sunday weekends, 1 Saturday-Sunday weekend. Really, it's not that bad. There are some that have you at the training everyday for a whole month, and others that are 9 months long and take every other weekend. So, really, no it's not that bad. But it still doesn't stop the feeling that I keep having to put my life on hold and I'm sick of it.
Yeah, I know, "welcome to the real world, everyone has to do this." Really? If the "real world" sucks, then why do we do it this way? Enter the pissed off, frustrated feeling of not wanting to be a part of "this world." The go to work and spend maybe 2 days a week actually doing something you enjoy. Which is also one of the things driving me to do this training. I'm happy now, because I can pretty much do whatever I want and am left to decide how I want to do this job, but I also know that it won't last long. You can only play FarmVille for so long before you start getting bored with it and wondering what it would be like to actually be on a real farm. So, this job works for now but I know it won't be long before it'll get boring and I get restless, wanting something more than just sitting at a desk for 8 hours/day. Before the 1 day a week that I am able get out and do something--hike, rock climb, visit friends--will feel so good that it makes going back to work unbearable.
Clarification. That was the big reason I decided to do the training. Learn more about yoga? Sure, that was always a good motivator. But a lot of that is possible to do on your own: go to workshops, go to classes with different teachers, read books and yoga blogs, go on a retreat. Pattahbi Jois is famously quoted for saying that yoga is 1% theory and 99% practice. I really do believe that. This is one of those systems where you learn best and the most through actually doing it. At the same time, I kind of felt like I was hitting some sort of "wall" with it. Honestly, I found myself starting to get bored with it. I never thought it would happen, but it did. And then I would switch up my teachers and styles and be good for a little while longer.
But, lately, I've been wondering why I keep doing it. Why I practice the yoga and what is its place in my life? I really didn't know what to expect from it when I started doing it. I had hurt my back and couldn't move. This happened after my initial foot injury and after I was finally starting to get some strength and movement back in my life. I felt like I was getting trapped in again and just kind of scrambled to the first thing that looked like it would bring relief and allow me to move. The only thought in my head was, "Not again!" My back started feeling better within a week and...I don't know, I just couldn't stop going to the classes. They felt amazing. Restful and challenging at the same time. It just clicked. It didn't matter how much money I was spending on it, it just felt like I couldn't stop, I needed it. It almost sounds like addiction, which I guess it kind of is. Your body literally starts craving the movement after a while. Although you here the same comments about running and other exercises. Not to mention that it felt like going to the classes, talking with the teachers and other students in the classes was the most meaningful interaction I had had with people since I moved to Boston. After 2 years of working in a job that required distrust of people and feeling very isolated, I felt and saw myself opening back up to people again. Was it the yoga, or the people? Who knows; maybe a little bit of both. I can definitely say, after witnessing it several times, that when I don't practice, I feel a lot LESS social.
So, yoga kind of took over my life. Started working at the yoga studio that I liked the most so that I wouldn't have to pay for my classes anymore. Requested certain days off from work so that I could take classes with my favorite teachers. Similar to running, I started centering my life around the one thing that I enjoyed the most. It was also all that I talked about with people. Sometimes on purpose, other times it just simply kept coming up in conversations. People were curious about it and I enjoyed talking about it and was almost eager to share it. But I never felt the urge to teach it. I have never once thought, "Hey, I wanted to teach this to people." Share it, yes. Teach, no. And there is a difference. A small one, but important. Teaching means that you have some greater knowledge about it, and some responsibility that comes with it. And I don't feel like I have that or that I want the responsibility that comes with it. It's the being responsible for what it does to other people. Simply having the label of "teacher" gives you a slight amount of authority that people just automatically accept, and will usually do what you ask of them. What scares me about the thought of teaching is doing or saying (or "suggesting") to do something that ends up hurting someone. I don't want to be responsible for other people. That is one of the big things that makes me want to run and hide when I even see the word "teach."
So, there it is. One of my biggest fears when it comes to the idea of teaching. So, what am I doing in a yoga teacher training? (A) I know that I don't have to teach if I don't want to. No matter how many people tell me I should, no matter how many people tell me that it is what I am "supposed to be doing," as though it is supposed to be my "fate" to teach yoga (as a few of my teachers have), I don't have to do it. (B) Clarification. This thing has taken over my life and, as I feel my life shifting around again, I want to understand where it fits, what it means to me. Because to me, it is definitely much more than a physical exercise--that's what rock climbing is for ;-)