My favourite daydreaming topic at the moment is my upcoming teacher training. It’s never far from my thoughts, and I have been indulging in some epic fantasies about how great it’s going to be: the luxury of such an exclusive focus on yoga, the effect it will have on my practice and on me as a person, about the relationships I’ll build and the possibilities that will arise. So so much to look forward to. I’m smiling as I type. I am excited beyond excited!
But as well as filling my daydreams, TT also features in my nightmares and I have come within a breath of withdrawing my application several times these past weeks as the start date (and final payment) approaches. How can I be so excited yet so doubtful?
Let’s get this bit out of the way: part of me is skeptical about teacher trainings as a concept. 200 hours is a ridiculously short time. I don’t often see bad teaching happening because I’m super-choosy now about where I attend class, but I know it’s out there, and I certainly read enough nonsense about yoga to know there is some very superficial understanding in some quarters. But I trust my teacher and his prioritization of what we need to learn and how competent we need to be as beginner teachers, and I trust that he thinks I have a sufficient base on which to build this. He is awesome at simplifying without losing authenticity and rigour. That in itself is going to be fascinating to see as a balancing act!
So the concerns (and I think they’re real and valid) about YTT as a qualification is just an intellectual problem, and one that I should properly place in the hands of the course teachers. I like to hide behind intellectual problems, because that’s my training and therefore my comfort zone but if I’m honest the real difficulty I have with TT is internal not external and is all about the labels I’ve created for myself and the way I see myself. As my friend succinctly put it over lunch today: I’m having an identity crisis. I have never pictured myself as a yogi, much less a teacher of yoga, and I can’t reconcile ‘old me’ with ‘new me’.
But if yoga creates the problems, it’s funny how such questions sometimes resolve themselves during physical practice. In class on Sunday I had a revelatory realisation: ‘I’m not the yoga (teacher) type’ is a ridiculous self-fulfilling prophecy. Once I might not have been, sure, but perhaps now I am. I just have to update my ideas (about who I am as well as what yoga is) and accept the changes in myself. I might once have lived in PJs practising energy conservation by sleeping a lot, but the truth is that now I live in leggings and jump out of bed to get to morning class or fit in practice before work. And I can’t talk to anyone about yoga without wanting to offer my thoughts on the(ir) practice — though unless it’s a friend of course I try to restrain myself!
So I found a quiet corner after class and sat for a while holding these ideas and I felt the tension loosening and the excitement bubbling. And when I got home I re-read my YTT application. This was far and away the weirdest form I’ve ever completed and I have no idea what my teacher was expecting to read (well, clearly as a good yogi he was free of expectations, right?!) so I just wrote from my heart. And one of the things I wrote in the section of why I wanted to learn to teach was about how long I’ve struggled against the idea of teaching without it going away, and how I’d like to give in to the idea and see what happens if I go with it instead of fighting it. Clearly I was wiser then than I am now! It’s taken me a long time to come full circle and once again let go of the labels and instead surrender to the possibilities.
When I got home I excitedly shared my revelation with Hubby, concluding shyly: “You know what I realised? I can do this!”
He laughed and looked me in the eye, full of loving disbelief. “Of course you can! Everyone knows that. It’s only you who can’t see it.”
So it’s game on again. Coughing up the rest of the course fee might look like just a financial transaction but for me on another level it’s also an exercise in isvarapranidhana and svadyaya!
So now I’m choosing to revel in the identify crisis I have. It’s an identity crisi-tunity (if it’s true that in some languages there’s no semantic difference between ‘crisis’ and ‘opportunity’).
I’m choosing to embrace all the unknowns and the weird stuff. Bring it on!
I’ve been grinning to myself all afternoon turning these thoughts over, so I reckon that says it all. No more thinking required. Just a few deep breaths.