“By your stumbling, the world is perfected.”
Last month marked my one-year anniversary of teaching at 3 Bridges Yoga…and teaching yoga in general. I started practicing at the studio during the summer of 2011, right around the time I started my teacher training program. I loved the studio’s open concept – both physical structure and mindset. It was a place where I really felt like I fit in. As I was nearing the completion of my training, I started working up the courage to approach Jody and Bjorn about taking me under their wing for a mentorship program. I had no idea if they actually did such a thing, I just knew I wanted to learn more about their teaching style and attitude.
A couple of weeks before I graduated teacher training, I got an email from Bjorn asking if I had any interest teaching at their studio – a cosmic thing for sure, as I was drafting my own proposition the week I received their offer. At first I was SO excited – this was exactly what I was looking for! – and then the self-doubt set in. Who did I think I was to teach yoga? I was fresh off the boat from training, with no experience under my belt. I barely viewed myself as a yogi, never mind a yoga teacher. I had never been to India, I drank wine and whiskey, I stayed up late, I sometimes said the F word, I lost my temper, and I was pretty sure I would NEVER be able to do Titibasana. I was far from the pure-bodied, serene yogis I read about in books and saw in magazines. How could I teach this yoga thing to other people? Who was I kidding?
Almost reluctantly, I agreed to meet with the 3 Bridges peeps – Bjorn, Jody, Allison and Marla – and got a glimpse into this mixed bag of yogis. These guys knew what they were talking about and knew what they were doing. Their knowledge and talent were intimidating, for sure, but what wasn’t intimidating was their attitude – they took their yoga seriously, but not so much themselves.
Bjorn was serious about sequencing, but also had a Phish sticker on his water bottle.
Jody explained breath cues while letting a curse word slip.
Allison talked anatomy, and humbly admitted to certain postures she couldn’t do.
Marla emphasized the importance of using your voice, then went on to crack an appropriate off-color joke.
These were people I viewed as real-live yogis, but they were also real-live approachable people. They lived their yoga every day, while leading their day-to-day lives. Thus commenced my post-teacher-training training. And while this training was based on how to teach yoga to a room full of people, it taught me so much more about yoga than just how to lead a class. While working on my yoga instruction, I was also working on myself.
I used to get so nervous to teach that it would make me physically sick to my stomach. I lost a lot of sleep during those first few months. My constant feedback was that I was too hard on myself and needed to develop self-confidence. Ironically, the only way to do this was to continue to teach. So I did…beating myself up a little less each time, taking myself a little less seriously each time. For a year now, I’ve been making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, moving on, and trying again.
I still get nervous teaching classes from time to time, I still haven’t been to India, I still imbibe in Malbec and Jameson, I still struggle with my patience and temper, and while I’m closing in on Titibasana, there’s a still a whole arsenal of postures that I doubt I’ll ever be able to touch. I still may not be anyone’s definition of a perfect yogi, but I am a yogi. You see, we’re all works in progress – in society, our family lives, careers, yoga practices & maybe even yoga instruction. There are certain things that make us imperfect, but it’s these imperfections that make us who we are.
I want to thank Bjorn, Jody, Allison and Marla for helping me to realize this, but more importantly, being okay with this. And also thank them for helping me see that you can still be a yogi while being a work in progress. In fact, continually working on yourself – making mistakes and learning from those mistakes, improving yourself and growing – is part of being a perfect yogi.