My journey to being a yoga instructor has been a crazy ride. What started out as a way to regain the flexibility of my dancing days, has turned into a career in just a few short years. I never would have imagined my life as it is now the first time I stepped into a yoga class. I was insecure, overweight, and spent most of my time wondering who might be watching me fail miserably and try to understand the foreign language of yoga poses. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the moment my feet met my yoga mat was the moment my life began to subtly transform into something incredible.
I didn’t even notice it at first. I left that first class at 24 hour Fitness feeling discouraged and angry. “Why can’t I balance on one leg anymore?” “What the hell is a sun salutation?” “How am I supposed to see what you’re asking me to do with my head between my legs and butts in my face?” “Do you want me to breathe or move, I can’t do both at once?” So I didn’t go back. I stuck to the weight machines and treadmill and gave up on my vision of becoming a blissed-out, bendy, badass yogi.
Something stuck with me from that class, though. Slowly it kept creeping into my subconscious as the thing I just “gave up” because I wasn’t good at it. I was starting to see results in my weight loss and my stubbornness didn’t let me settle for just giving up. So after a couple months, I tried again. I still sucked. But this time, I was determined to put in some effort so I could hold tree pose as long as the Active older Adults in the front row. Those ladies were the real badass yogis.
Eventually I started to see a little progress in my balance and strength. I still wasn’t as good as the people around me, but I was better than I was the day before. Before I knew it, I was touching the ground in my forward fold and holding a lunge-ish thing (now I know it’s called Warrior 1) didn’t QUITE seem like torture. One day I remember leaving class and was pretty sure that I didn’t compare myself to the people around me even once! That was the game changer. This love-hate relationship I had with my yoga mat might have been in public but it had nothing to do with anyone else. This was my journey and I was the only one standing in my way.
From that realization, my life started shifting toward a new goal- to share yoga with as many people as possible. I started getting all of my friends to join me at the yoga classes and when I saw their same expressions of fear and insecurity, I did my best to encourage them during class. Apparently there’s an unspoken rule that you are to remain unspoken in yoga, so I got a lot of dirty looks. So I started thinking; “well, if I were the instructor I could give as much encouragement as I want.” I felt my heart sink when the yoga instructor I’d been taking classes with for months didn’t even know my name. I was just another body in the crowd-which was heartbreaking because I had put this teacher on a pedestal and I credited her so much for my progress. I saw a lot of people who were just like me that tried yoga for their first time and never made it back.
Fast forward a few years and I’m now confidently teaching 7-12 classes a week and I ALWAYS do my best to make newcomers feel welcome (also, I challenge myself to remember every student’s name). I found MY version of a badass yogi. I know how scary it is to enter this foreign “woo woo” world of yoga. It’s intimidating and even if you feel like you “suck” at everything, if you feel welcome you just might try to make it back. It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you start, your yoga journey is your’s alone and it’s all about progress- not perfection. Do whatever it is that makes you happy and brings you closer to your highest self. If that’s a yoga class, awesome. If not, that’s okay too. Do you boo boo.
Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments, I’ll do my best to help you realize YOUR version of a badass yogi too 🙂
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton