Fini. Yesterday, I completed my first 200-hour yoga teacher training.
Today feels kind of surreal--a little bit like it did after I graduated from college; with a "what now?" kind of feeling. Especially after the day I had yesterday.
Yesterday was the practicum--where we have 5 minutes to teach one pose to the whole group, with our 2 teachers and the teaching assistant watching and critiquing. Contrary to my usual response to having to teach, I actually felt really confident the day before--when we had to practice teaching it to each other. I was quite surprised. It felt natural and easy, I felt calm and oddly confident. On Sunday morning, that feeling remained. I even practiced teaching it to a friend of mine who took the same type of training last year and I said something about the pose that she said she never thought of before. So, I was feeling really good, like I really understood it and had something I wanted to share about it. The practicum started and I still felt fine. One by one everyone went up to teach their pose in the sequence. And little by little, I could feel my nerves rising. I thought, "No, no, no! We got this, we're fine! Breathe, relax the shoulders, we're fine!!"
Unfortunately, that strategy did not work. I got up there and I felt like I was a shaking bundle of nerves speaking in a robot voice. There was an odd sort of calmness too, but only in the sense that it felt "out-of-body," like I wasn't really present. I walked around, gave the instructions that I had been giving, gave some random adjustments without really "seeing" what I was doing--but I did not feel like I was there, like I wasn't in control of what I was doing. I believe the technical term for it is "disassociating," which is not an uncommon "escape route" for me. I finished and Natasha (the primary trainer and the one I had for the first 3 weekends of the training) looked at me and said, "you were nervous, right?" Yes, I was nervous. She said, "you love yoga, we all know that. And you have a 'sweetness' about it. But you have to find a way to calm your nerves so that can come out when you teach." There was so much that I didn't say that I should have. I understood the pose, but I couldn't teach it. Basically, I was telling people what to do, but not how to do it--and that is what "teaching" means, telling people "how" to do something. Jennie (the teacher I've had for the last 3 weekends and the one who has seen me do the most practice-teaching) gave her feedback next. She said that it may not seem like a lot, but she remembered how I was when she first came. She said that I've gone from inarticulate and barely able to get words out of my mouth, to a robot voice--that's improvement. The teaching assistant, Tamara, empathized, as an Ashtangi, because our practice is silent, we don't regularly hear "how to do" something.
I appreciated all of it, but I was disappointed in myself. I had told myself the week or so before hand, that if I just managed to get words out of my mouth that made sense, I would be satisfied. That was before this past Saturday, when I felt so confident and clear going in. And yes, I practice a lot of Ashtanga, but I didn't start out that way and I still take other classes where they do tell you what to do. Although, now that I think about it, maybe that's part of the issue, that all the non-Ashtanga classes that I take tell me "what" to do but not very often "how" to do something--or at least not as specific as they do in the YogaWorks world. Either way, I was disappointed in myself. My pose was a little less than halfway through the sequence and it felt like so much work to stay there and keep practicing with the rest of the group through the practicum. I could feel the tears brimming behind my eyes and it was so hard to hold it all in. But I did, somehow I managed to get through the rest of the practicum to support my fellow trainees. I finally let some of it go during our brief savasana after the practicum, but a lot of the remaining day felt like a struggle to stay present and to keep my emotions in check.
I passed the practicum, but it didn't feel earned. The purpose of the practicum is to see if you are capable of teaching. I clearly showed that I wasn't. Passing this portion of the program does not feel like an accomplishment, it doesn't feel like I deserve it.