You love yoga. Like, really love it. Enough to teach it, even. So you do your yoga teacher training, 200 hrs or what have you, and boom! you’re a yoga teacher! Isn’t it that easy? For the rare lucky and naturally gifted souls, maybe so, but for others, calling yourself a yoga teacher and even teaching a few weekly classes, does not necessarily a yoga teacher make, or so XO Jane contributor Grace Nilsson found out for herself after some trials and tribulations on and off the mat.
You see, Grace loved yoga, the way it was so “liberating!” and how afterwards she “felt all spiritual and shit.” But $1250 later, Grace graduated with a 200 hour certification or “basically a formality that they gave to everyone who completed the paperwork and paid all their fees,” and a lot of questions. With a heaping helping of self determination to BE a yoga teacher and two classes serendipitously handed to her by an optimistic new studio owner, Grace stepped into her yoga teacherness with gusto.
The 200 hrs is grand (literally), but what happened over the next six months to follow might have been her best training yet. As it turns out, Grace realized she was more in love with the idea of teaching yoga than the act of doing it.
Problem was, I was more excited about the idea of Teaching Yoga than I was about actually doing it. Apparently I thought if I just called myself a Yoga Teacher, I would magically turn into one of the mystical, superior creatures who I worshipped from afar during my years as a practicing student.
Trying to be something she wasn’t started to weigh on her. And her personal pre-class experience is something we know a lot of you out there can relate to:
I was extremely nervous before each class, which is not my typical demeanor, and dreaded teaching to the point to where I was relieved if no one showed up for class because it meant I was off the hook. This created a great deal of inner conflict.“Am I a self-involved, lazy person who can’t deliver on her promises? Should I be “good at this” by now? Is my lack of natural talent indicative of an overall greater personal shortcoming?” I wondered.
We feel you sister!
Even though I still loved practicing yoga, I felt like a total impostor as an instructor. I stumbled over my words, made things up as I went along, confused “lefts” with “rights,” and basically made every annoying mistake that a rookie teacher makes. Over and over again, for six months.
Finally, after six months, her classes having never really caught on, Grace was fired from her teaching gig, though it sounds like it was a mutual decision. But in the end, to employ a played out cliche, the journey was the reward because Grace tried and failed and came out the other side with some pearls of wisdom. On “the grand scale of Life Lessons” Grace imparts to us four (our paraphrasing):
1. Be realistic and listen to yourself. It will save you time and trouble.
2. Commit and practice. Self-explanatory?
3. Failure is not the end. No effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed.
4. Keep going. Don’t let failure deter you from diving into new things.
With the growing pool of yoga teachers out there, overwhelming (and increasing) number of trainings with a steady stream of recent YTT grads, we have to wonder how many are going through this very same thought process, and how many will realize they’re just not cut out for the job. Which is, by the way, OK.
Our take? Six months is not an incredibly long time for any new thing, but if you find yourself stuck in yoga, know there is always a way to get unstuck.
Do you have more words of teaching yoga wisdom? Please share!
Have your own yoga teacher story you want to write about? Send your submissions to YD@yogadork.com.