Going through a 200 Hour Yoga Certification has pushed me in ways I expected, like figuring out if I can do one more chaturanga or looking at a room full of students and thinking WHAT POSE IS NEXT?! It’s also pushed me in ways I never could have imagined. Recently we were fortunate to have Christen Bakken lead our teacher training. One of the things we were challenged to think about is who our ideal student would be. When I teach a class, who do I want in the front row? I always thought you teach the people who show up, simple enough. But to truly define how I teach I need to understand who I want to teach. I’ve had several people suggest that beginners are my target demographic and while that feels right in my heart it also scares me. It scares me because on the fringes of it is a word I’ve been hearing a lot lately. A word I don’t know how to associate with myself. Inspirational. My physical changes, the dedication to my practice, this website, people find inspiration in those things. Logically I understand why, when I dissociate it from myself it makes sense. When I think about how it applies to me, I push it as far away as I can.
The idea behind Namasdre is to share my life, and hopefully, relate my struggles and joys to yours. I wanted you to read this, I’m happy you’re here, I wanted these words to have an impact. In theory, those things are great. In practicality, they are great but, I’m still adjusting. People, you, want to talk to me about it. Don’t you know I still have weight to lose, like...a lot? I had a cookie for breakfast? I still can’t do any sort of arm balance? There are things sitting on my to do list from last month? How can you find value in what I’m saying when I’m a mess? And in that last question is the key. I’m struggling to figure everything out, but so are you (probably, maybe you totally have everything together. In which case, please teach me your ways). What I struggle through isn’t something belonging solely to me. You own pieces and parts of it, as well as things I haven’t or won’t experience. A note I received on my teaching asked me to stop being methodical and embrace a little bit of messy. Messy is real, messy is where people connect.
My story, the one I share, is messy. Really messy but it’s relatable, some say inspirational. Inspirational. Me? No. Never. I back away from that word. I use a host of reasons to step away from it: humility, altruism, procrastination. I can layer a hundred words over it but the core of that desire is me being deeply sad, and ashamed, of the story that is mine. It’s one I would rather read about than live. I let myself get to a terrible place physically and emotionally. Was it my rock bottom? Maybe. I hope so. I let it happen for a variety of reasons and no reason at all. The reasons don’t truly matter; what does matter is that I was, and am, disappointed in myself for it happening. In creating this site I chose to publicly share my biggest failure, my biggest disappointment, and how I’m trying to climb back from it. People connect to it. They, maybe you, are inspired by it. I wanted this site to have impact, but I didn’t expect it to. I didn’t prepare for my words, my story, to mean something to anyone. More and more I’m unable to deny that it does mean something and I’m figuring out how to come to terms with that fact.
Thinking about who I want to teach started this whole internal dialogue and it amplified over the week through conversations with friends, coworkers, even a few kind strangers. When people talk to me about the physical changes I’ve made, the words I write here, the things I’ve dedicated myself to as I’ve changed my path, it warms my heart. At the same time it terrifies me. What if I fail? What if I go back to the way I was? What if with eyes on me, I prove I can’t handle any of this? My biggest fear is that I’ll let you down when I inevitably fail, the way I let myself down time and time again. There’s the real potential for me to never reach my imaginary finish line, or worse, get back to that place before all of this started and for you to think all of the things about me I think about myself. The most prominent of these fears is the constant lingering notion that I don’t deserve the life I’m working so hard to build and won’t be able to keep it. It scares me. Out of that place of fear I have to know I’m writing this story after it happens, as it happens, I don’t control all of the plot twists but I control enough to keep it on the arc I want.
The conversation I started and want to continue isn’t merely about moving through a vinyasa. My conversation, our conversation, is about what happens off your mat, what happens in your life, in your head, in your heart. No, beginner is not the primary identification of my student. My student is on a journey, be that a physical or emotional one, they are someone who is trying to find their way. Maybe more often than not they’re at the early stages of that journey, I embrace that. I have a place in my heart for the back row, the people who feel like they don’t belong in Lulu leggings, who show up when it’s hard, when they’re the only one in the room who can’t keep up, because I’ve been there. I’m still there. It makes me relatable. It makes me feel like we’re in this together. Because we are.
The only way for me connect with students, with readers, with people is by being able to share my story, not just the parts that sound good. All of it. This part of it, the part I don't want to share. The story is a good one, I still hate that it’s mine. I will always kind of hate that it's mine. While it is part of who I am, it doesn’t define me. My moments of weakness made me stronger. I decided I was strong enough to share all of this with you and I’m just going to have to get used to people wanting to talk about it. All I ask for is a little grace when I stumble over my reaction.