As I was doing a few Yoga asanas (poses) this morning, I thought about a conversation I had with my stepmother this weekend. She has been one of my Yoga guides and I am so grateful that I am able to share my journey of teaching with her.
Since I completed my Yoga teaching final in November, I haven’t actually taught anyone even though I am certified to do so. Friends and co-workers have asked me to teach them, but my response has been the same: “I need to get over myself” and/or “I will be ready to teach when I’ve completed the 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) training.” While talking this over with stepmama, I admitted to her and myself that those responses are based in fear. While I do want to pursue the RYT certification, I also know I’m hiding behind it to avoid starting to teach. Before I could say what it was that I am actually in fear of, stepmama asked me if I was afraid of hurting someone while teaching. I answered with an emphatic “yes!” And it’s not just that I might hurt people by teaching something incorrectly, but I also fear that I will not be able to properly help those who have particular ailments. I know that you can modify asanas to match where a person is in their body, but what if I don’t know the right modifications? Stepmama just smiled in her gentle and knowing way and shared with me a thought that is key to moving forward on this path.
She told me to acknowledge and, more importantly, to embrace that I have a gift. I have been placed on this path as a means to channel my desire to help others and Yoga is my gift for doing so. Embracing this…simply being okay with it…will help to allay my fears and be my guide for teaching. Her response was such a profound one. Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I have been on a constant quest for my special gift or talent. And in that moment, stepmama helped to make things more clear for me. In my last blog (“Inspiration”), I shared how I am beginning to connect the dots of my path through the people I have known and experiences I’ve had along the way. This most recent conversation makes it clear that the connection is coming full circle. Now I just have to put it all together and take that first step of teaching on my own.
It is a beautiful thing when you recognize what your special gift is to share with the world. I think I’ll start with my co-workers first. The Yoga teaching journey continues…
“Our Greatest Fear”
“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”
My co-worker shared a most powerful YouTube video with me yesterday. It was made by Arthur Boorman, a disabled Veteran who was told he would never again be able to walk without assistance as a result of his service in the military. He gained weight from being stationary and eventually developed an “I give up” attitude, thinking he would not be able to find anyone who could help him. That was until he met the one person who was willing to believe in and work with him. My eyes immediately welled up with tears when I saw the video. Arthur details his account of losing weight and learning to walk on his own with such transparency, that one cannot help but to be moved by his sense of self-determination.
Watching Arthur transform through the incorporation of Yoga in his life, I felt like a purpose had been revealed to me. And I have been searching for purpose for a long time. I understand that I serve a purpose in being a mother, daughter, sister, friend and other various roles I fulfill in my life, but I have personally still been in search of what I want to be when I grow up. I have always strived to find a path where the work I do is connected to who I am and what I believe in, and where I am emotionally, mentally and spiritually fulfilled by the time I am investing in the career aspect of my life. I often find myself searching for jobs and not finding one that feels like the right fit. I’d see the career path of some of my friends in real life and on Facebook and wonder why it was difficult for me to place my finger on the track I should follow. I’m not an HR expert or a Marketing person. I have no idea how to fix computers and no passion to do something like manage stock portfolios. The experience I do have is broad in that it varies from policy analysis to event planning and being a classroom facilitator. I understand how this can be a challenge to a person reviewing my resume and deciding where and how to categorize what I can do, but it is also challenging for me because at times, I don’t know how to categorize myself as far as a 9-5 is concerned. There are certain life experiences that have shaped me, but there is only one thing I have ever really known…and that is that I want to help people. I’ve just never really been sure of how to turn this very broad desire of wanting to help into something that is a viable career.
Arthur’s use of Yoga made me think of my own practice. Although Yoga has been in my life for the past ten years, it had been more of a silent force rather than a consistent activity. I had my Yoga DVDs (“AM/PM Yoga” taught by Rodney Yee and Patricia Walden was my first), but my practice was done on more of a time to time basis. I’d always been attracted to the benefits of Yoga and I grew up watching my stepmother practicing it, yet it would be a long time before I began to really embrace it. Shortly after my 35th birthday last year, I took a level one Yoga teacher training course. While we learned various Yoga positions and how to practice them, we also studied Yoga as a philosophy and spiritual practice. Doing so helped me to better understand and appreciate that Yoga begins in the mind. It is clear to me now that the skills and tools you learn to help you through positions on your mat are the same skills and tools that can be applied to how we deal with life off the mat. The course instructor (I call her my teacher-guide) showed us that Yoga is to be taught with compassion. Sitting through the classes, I knew that I had been led to the exact space I was supposed to be in. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to fully utilize the space. Written and teaching finals were required for successful completion of the course. I felt comfortable with the written exam, but was beyond nervous about the teaching final. We were required to teach a full 60 minutes of Yoga to a class in teacher-guide’s studio. I knew I had no choice but to do it and I am happy, as well as proud of myself, to say that I successfully completed both exams and received a certificate that allows me to teach. The next step would be to complete the level two teacher training course, which will allow me to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). I had been contemplating this before fully stepping out and teaching. But earlier this week, before I saw Arthur’s video, I decided to enroll in the course. I had always wanted to go deeper with my practice, but I never saw myself taking an interest in actually teaching Yoga.
While watching Arthur’s video, I thought about other disabled Veterans like him who might also benefit from Yoga. The video is moving in a way that it can compel one to overcome his or her own personal challenges or to help someone overcome a personal challenge. It made me feel like I wanted to do both. In that moment, it felt like there was an intersection between my search for my purpose, my desire to help people and my love for Yoga. These are the moments I have learned to pay attention to, so I immediately wrote down my thoughts in a small journal I carry with me. I still have to figure out how to get from A to B and I certainly have plenty more to study and positions I have to learn, but I feel like there is something I can visualize. I’m going to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, both on and off the mat, and see where this journey takes me. If am learning anything about myself, it is that I am more of a free spirit than I have personally recognized. And this is something I totally embrace.
Arthur’s video served as a catalyst for me to start connecting the dots in a variety of ways. It is through my various relationship networks that I was led to this current place in my life, so I thought it appropriate to give a few shout outs:
I have to thank my co-worker who shared Arthur’s video with me. It was passed on with the knowledge that I would understand exactly why the video found its way to me. I greatly appreciate this gem. I thank my teacher-guide Dana for being a great Yoga instructor and an all-around amazing person. She shares her light through Spiritual Essence Yoga and Wellness Center . I am so blessed to be learning in a truly caring environment. I give a super big thanks to my dear friend Evelyn who told me about Dana, who gave me the small journal I carry with me and who has always encouraged me to be my best self. I am deeply appreciative of our friendship. I thank my stepmother for her love of Yoga and her continuous love and support of my journey and me. Finally, I thank Arthur for sharing his story with us. Not only has he encouraged me to continue walking down the path of Yoga, but he also encouraged this blog. I haven’t written one in a few months, and as I reflected on the video last night, the words began tumbling into my head. Through these connections, I am beginning to see how it’s all coming together. And I am grateful for the inspiration.