Yoga Teacher Training: Creating Space for Self

 

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been the last few weeks (ok I’m just flattering myself… no one is actually reading this, but if you are, comment to say hello), I’ve been a bit MIA due to starting a month-long intensive Yoga Teacher Training in November. I’ve been frantically taking notes in my journal about blog posts I intend to write, but time keeps slipping away and I’m finally forcing a moment to sit down and write. So, Hello. Its me.

In my previous life before moving to Charlotte, I had a big Big Girl [amazing] “corporate” job, a long commute (3 hours daily), and lots of external and internal stressors and heavy life events that kept me, busy incredibly drained, and often depressed. Yoga helped keep me steady but I never felt like I had time for more than maybe a class once a week mixed in with all my other workouts. I did the best I could, but the demands of my life never seemed to permit an opportunity for development and growth in the things that I knew in my heart I needed. It was the cycle of busy-ness and stress that tends to consume most of us until we retire and then we die. I always had the fear that I’d be like all those other people I turned my nose up at, people perhaps from another generation or another process of thinking, who worked for work’s sake, stayed busy, gave themselves entirely to their careers, failed to fulfill their personal mission, saved money, saved money, saved money, spent it along the way, indebted themselves in things they couldn’t afford so they had to keep working to pay it off, then worked themselves into the ground until retirement age, all their money nicely stacked away to finally get spent on ‘living’, but then you’re 70 years old and you realize you don’t have that many years ahead of you, and you’re not as young and energetic as you once were, and those dreams of traveling the world and learning languages and starting up a painting hobby and learning to cook are suddenly seeming less and less realistic now that your body is aging, your mind is less sharp, your kids and grandkids need you, and you still have to pay off the damn house, and you get sick and have to pay medical bills for you and your partner, and then one day you die, and you wonder what it was all for, and why you cared so much about the things you cant take with you to your version of heaven, and you wished you had traveled more, stressed less, had less money and less things, loved more, had more pets, learned to paint, eaten healthier, and found an inner stillness and peace that you could carry with you through all the tribulations of the life you had. I’ve feared becoming that person since I was a kid – I saw it around me and I knew it wasn’t the life I wanted, and yet I found myself there, 5 years after college, with a job that I loved and that paid me handsomely but that demanded everything from me and I was willing to give it because the job and the title and the company brought me a sense of importance and identity that I thought was real and I thought made me me. I worked hard, I tried to maintain integrity in my career and in my health even when stress was high, and I’m proud of my accomplishments, of my growth, and of the impact I had. However, there was a sense that life had more to offer, that things were not quite as linear as I had been taught to believe, and that taking a courageous leap outside of my comfort zone would be exactly what my soul called for. I enjoyed my career, and still do, but I wanted more out of my life story – I wanted something adventurous and new to be proud of when I die.

Enter Yoga Teacher Training.

I have been practicing yoga for a long time, and have received countless benefits from the journey – so much so that I’ve been dreaming about becoming a yoga instructor for a long, long time. But given the life I had before, there literally was not enough time to make it happen. I suppose I could have arranged things differently and sacrificed more than I already was, but the time wasn’t right for me. I wasn’t ready. Moving to Charlotte after selling almost all of our belongings, quitting our big city careers, and arriving with just savings, suitcases, and two cats was a bit of a shock to the system. Suddenly having no job (and frankly needing a looong break from having one) and new challenges that were forcing me to make sense of who I am in this new situation called for finally taking the plunge and doing the thing I’ve talked so much about doing. Its time to walk the walk. So I found a program in Charlotte, signed up, and started the month-long training a few weeks ago. I could not be happier.

I’ve already started to see how my future could be changed by this decision, in all the ways I knew I needed. There is so much personal growth already happening and I’ll get into that over the next few weeks, but being here in this program, surrounded by 8 other students of all walks of life and led by an amazing teacher who knows her shit, is an intensely gratifying experience in and of itself. In my previous life I felt a sense of identity because of the company I worked at and I’ve found myself even still using that as a crutch, something to rest my sense of self on when I’m fearful that all the other things I have to offer are just not enough. I’ve maintained humility about my past career as much as possible since moving but I have had moments of weakness, where in meeting new people, I’ve name-dropped where I used to work and what I used to do as a way to prove that I’m actually smart, as if without that people wouldn’t be able to see that for themselves. Working at this place for 5 years was a joy and I miss it every day, but the buzz around that life was taking up more and more space in my creation of Self, leaving less and less room for my truest Self to flourish. Here in Yoga Teacher Training, I’ve consciously avoided ever talking about what I used to do as an intentional step towards creating an identity that is honest to who I am, not what my work is, or was. I enjoy talking about my interests, my learnings, asking philosophical questions, engaging with the material and learning about yoga with other students in a safe and nonjudgemental way, where we are not our jobs, we are not our yogic abilities, we are not our flexibility, we are not the quality of our mats or the design of our yoga pants – we are just humans, equaled by our desire to learn, equaled by our connection to our practice, equaled by our newness to the study of yoga, equaled by a passion to bring this gift we’ve all experienced to others and to broaden the circle of connection.

This is yoga. We have learned postures and sequences and history and philosophy and some of us are more flexible or strong than others but all of that is just buzz around what yoga is starting to mean for us. It is an equanimous connection that we can all share, removing that that separates us and allowing our simple Selves to just be.

What a liberation. I already feel myself being able to peel away one of the many layers of my onion-y persona. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I’m peeling away the layer of my story that told me I was only someone if I had a big fancy career at a big fancy company. I was fed that story by parents, by society, by every force around me, because thats what our world needs in order to keep the status quo. If we all go around waking up and realizing we’re just cogs in the machine, the machine breaks and the machine doesn’t want to be broken. But in training, I’m learning how to not be a cog. I’ve always sought more out of my life than cog-y-ness and I’m finally making space for that possibility. Yoga, after all, is about making space through breath: we inhale to create space, exhale to move into that space. Inhale: create space for that which calls to your highest self. Exhale: live in that highest self. Repeat.

 

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