2 Weeks. 14 days.
That's how much time I have left of my very first yoga teacher training. It's really hard to believe that it's been 5 months--since the start of the training, since I left my job at Saks that I felt like I couldn't leave for one reason or another. It still feels kind of surreal. I've gone back to the store a couple of times and some people still had no idea that I had left! They thought I had been on some really long vacation or leave of absence! But it's felt really good to go back and just talk with the people I used to see everyday--without wondering if I was being watched on the cameras, without wondering if someone was stealing while I was talking to people, without wondering if I was going to get in trouble for being friendly and talking to the people there (since I worked in security, it was ok for me to "act" friendly, but not actually be friends with the people there). Now, when I talk to the same people there, there's a lightness and openness about it, and that is really nice; there are a lot of really good people who work there. It's also nice to hear so much encouragement from them and how much they have missed having me there. People I rarely talked to (as in, more than just a passing, "hello, how are you doing?" kind of way) gave me the biggest hugs when I came back into the store. It just reminds me that you never know how much the things that you do mean to people, even just being nice. Many of the people who worked there told me that me just simply being nice to them and asking how they were after a full day of dealing with customers was such a welcome relief. And I feel the same now, when I see them. Just them remembering who I am is really nice. I work pretty much entirely by myself these days. Most of the time, I barely notice it. But when I went back and saw all the people that I used to see everyday for over 4 years, I didn't realize how much I was missing it--just simply the contact with other people, didn't even have to be super deep and engaging conversations. I guess I kind of felt the same way some of them did: sometimes, after a full day of sitting in a dark office while waiting and looking for someone to do something wrong, just a simple pleasant interaction with someone brought a lot of light into my day. And now, when I hear so many of them being so excited for me with the training that I'm doing, it means a lot. To hear them say that they think that I will be a great teacher and that they would like to take my classes whenever I start...really means a lot. Even if I don't teach, hearing that people think so highly of me is both uplifting and humbling at the same time.
Speaking of the training (which is what got this post started, lol) it's winding down. I feel this odd mixture of relief and anxiety. A little anxiety for the in-class written exam, and hoping my brain doesn't shut down on me. A lot of anxiety for the 5 minute teaching of one pose (yes...just one pose, lol) to the entire class and the teachers (I don't even know which pose yet). A growing anxiety over the inevitable "what-now?" question that will need to be addressed (but not yet :) ). And a well of relief waiting to be released. That the pressure of the exams will be finished--they're not even that strenuous, but just having the pressure to perform well kind of feels like this constant weight on my chest, however small it may be at times. The relief of not having to have things done by a certain time. It's basically the same relief I felt once I graduated from college--which has been a BIG reason why I have not had the slightest interest in going back to school. I feel like doing that for so long really fried my nerves. I have definitely enjoyed learning and totally immersing myself in something that I'm interested in, but not the pressure to perform well that comes with it. I know that most of it comes from me, but I also feel it coming from outside as well. People think highly of me, which is really nice and, as I said, means a lot to me--but it also stresses me out, I feel like I can't make a mistake. Even though it's been very nice to have something to focus on for these last 5 months, I'll be glad to have that pressure be gone, however slight (or not slightly, lol) it was.
So, what am I doing to relieve some of the anxiousness building up? I'm trying to free up as much space as possible for myself during the last week--so I can focus more of my energy on the teaching portion and less on the littler things. We were given our take-home final last Sunday and I've spent the majority of this past week working everyday on it, and I'm one question away from being finished. This is where I'm really grateful for my current job: I sit at a desk all day long with almost no daily work tasks that need to be done. So, I've been taking my time and working on the final. The sequence that I had to write has been written, practiced and tweaked. The teaching script (a verbatim account of what I would say to teach a given pose...foreshadowing much?) has been written as well and just needs a little editing, same for most of the other short answer questions on the test. I'll finish it up this week along with the actual homework that was given for this past weekend. And here's where I really like how this training is run, as opposed to college: the homework isn't graded. A simple, yes, you turned it in with feedback from the teacher. That's it. And that is one area where I can really relax right now. "It doesn't have to be brilliant, it just has to be right." That's what one of the teachers in my training said this past weekend regarding the final, and it's kind of become my mantra this week, along with "allow yourself to be less than perfect." Sounds cheesy, but it feels really important. There are no GPA's here, no Honor's lists or graduated "Summa, Magna or Cum Laude," just a, "yes, you passed." The final is graded, in order to establish a baseline (70% and up is passing), but it doesn't really matter in the end--except to me of course, lol. I feel like there's always been a lot of pressure on me to "be the best," either from my own expectations, parents, teachers, society, whatever the source, the pressure kind of feels like it's always there, however slight. Allowing myself to not be perfect and not guilt myself for it is both a challenge and a welcome relief.
So, my aim for this week are continuing to free up as much space as possible for me to think and breathe next week (maybe even getting some of the written homework done for this next weekend, I've let go of a lot of the non-essential reading right now, a.k.a "not on final," lol). Especially since these next 2 weekends will be back-to-back (the only time this has happened in the training) and I have Saks-related issue that has followed me and that I have to deal with on Wednesday (not pleased about having to deal with something that is associated with a job that I no longer have, but am very pleased with how Saks is helping me with it). So: keep freeing up/clearing away space this week.
Next week, I think my focus needs to be on doing things that help me stay grounded...so I imagine that I'll be spending a lot of time in the Mysore room, the Ashtanga practice has been feeling very grounding and very strong lately. I'll probably be clinging to my cereal and toast diet, lol. I know, not the healthiest, but it is the most comforting because it's so easy and I know it agrees with my stomach. And I feel like I might actually be talking to people a lot, and maybe even practice teaching whatever pose I get, rather than just writing it out. Because the speaking thing has tended to be the biggest hurdle, lol. And if I'm going to simply get enough words out when I have to teach in the training, I'm probably going to have to talk more just in general, lol...and practice teaching the pose to people. Maybe even talk myself through the pose--which I've done in small amounts a handful of times and is so weird...but I do talk myself through it in my head, does that count, lol? Anyways, I also feel like it's going to be tremendously helpful for me if I can practice before teaching on the last day. The Mysore teacher who usually teaches on Sundays is usually there really early doing her own practice, I might see if she wouldn't mind me coming in as well. If anything, I'll probably get there super early myself and chill in a headstand for 5 minutes--it's amazing how effective and how powerful that pose is, there is a reason that it is called the "king pose!" Whatever it is, I feel like I just need something, to help me pull in, focus and ground myself. Focus, pull-in, center myself and ground...that's the aim for the last week of training.
And now, to sleep and, hopefully, find some rest before I really start this "final push." Keep breathing, "don't get too nervous," that's what my Ashtanga teacher said. I'm working on that :)