Tbh... I never wanted to teach Yoga
Updated: Apr 24, 2022
About 11 years ago, I was putting my finishing touches on my second attempt at grad school. I was interested in pursuing my PhD to study the brain, and the effects of a long-term yoga practice. I was having issues finding THE program, and was determined to apply that year. In hindsight, I was really just in a hurry for my path take me far away from Charlotte, NC.
Spoiler: it didn't work out!
Surprisingly, none of the programs that I was halfway interested in, were interested in me, go figure!
Instead of sulking in my failure, I decided to sign up for yoga teacher training, and learn more about the yoga side, so "I could conduct better scientific research studies". I had zero desire to ever teach a yoga class. HA!
When I graduated, we were offered an opportunity to join the studio that I had trained in, throwback to Yoga Shala!!
And I heard the voice….not one that was saying “you can do it”.
But one that doubted my enough-ness in calling myself a yoga teacher. I had placed my teachers on a pedestal and felt like I could never measure up to these radiant beings.
Sure, there’s solid debate if 200 hours is enough to call oneself a teacher, but this voice wasn’t coming from a place of rationality, it was coming from a place of doubt and criticism.
So I said YES! and took on a weekly class. I “knew” that if I didn’t jump right in then that voice would grow louder, and I might never give it a shot.
While I was still fully invested in my research job, I found myself saying YES to more subbing opportunities, and truly enjoying the adventure of teaching.
And then a simple twist of fate...my lab lost a major funding partner and I was laid off, with a pretty sweet severance package, and a choice...
To keep on science-ing or try something new?
What had previously been a dream job, was ending and I was curious was to what was beyond. I had witnessed the stress of the research world, and was questioning if I wanted to continue to pursue this route.
Synchronistically, months before I had planned 3 week hiatus to travel to Nicaragua and begin my 500 hours of yoga teacher training. The beginning of the training perfectly coincided with my last day of work, and I took a leap of faith and didn’t line up anything for when I got back, minus teaching a TON of yogasana classes.
By the end of my travel, it was abundantly clear that I would NOT be science-ing, at least not in the traditional sense.
Six years later… it’s been one leap after another, each one more daring than the last. Being my own business has definitely not been the safe, or well-worn path, nor is it for the weak.
Side story: My dad likes to remind me that I come from a lineage of entrepreneurs! My grandparents (Lois and Earl) started their own motocross racing track and was instrumental in bringing this sport to southest. (lol on our last name being spelled wrong…typical!)
The Yoga I teach today has evolved greatly from the Yoga I taught in the beginning, and mostly due to the rapid changes in the world in the last 10 years.
Advances in science and anatomy, collective traumas and awakenings, and aging through my 20’s, 30’s and now beginning my 40’s…things SHOULD evolve, or be left behind!
I’ve said before that it’s my superpower to have one foot in both worlds: I can make the mystical seem practical, and the practical have a little extra shimmer and shine. Now, I also recognize my own privilege, and social locations that have allowed me access and resources. To name a few: white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, thin, native U.S. citizen, college graduate, parental influence.
None of this means that this life-thing has been easy, it just means that these unavoidable labels haven’t been an hindrance to my everyday being/doing/breathing.
Recently, I ran into an acquaintance out and about in the world (!) and she asked me, “What else are you into other than yoga?” I felt stumped, and slightly embarrassed, that I didn’t have anything “other” than yoga things to speak about.
Sure, yoga has definitely taken over my world, and I’m currently in practice to expand my wings. And, Yoga IS life. Reading about philosophy brings me joy, adjusting my lens to a more yogic perspective has been life-saving, and much of my surrounding community has shifted into yoga folks.
As I’ve learned more about myself, my choice of play toys and play mates has also shifted. I’m not throwing shade at anyone who has known me through the different versions of myself. Many of y’all have evolved with me, or congruently. Many folks don’t inhabit the same orbits, and my love hasn’t changed for those I no longer see often.
Fun fact: I haven’t drank alcohol since November 2021, which has been a fun experiment, and again shifts my orbit. Not sure how long it will continue, and for now I feel really great knowing my decision is always “naw, I’m good”.
I don't expect everyone who completes YTT to swear off conventional life, in fact the type of yoga I teach promotes keeping your daily life and finding the yoga within it!
I feel like trying to fit back into the 9-5 life would be like trying to cage a wild unicorn, and I don't think it would work out.
Side story: I once got reprimanded by the 2nd in command at my scientist job for sitting on my desk while working. I called it smart sitting, she called it "unsafe". We can agree to disagree :)