Realizing the impossibility of perfection, a teacher trainee learns to embrace her own strengths.
I was easily the worst student in my yoga teacher training course. I’'m something of an overachiever, so this did not sit well with me. But when I enrolled, I was out of shape, physically and emotionally. I’d just returned to my hometown and felt like a failure, a feeling compounded by ongoing fertility troubles. I thought yoga would put me on a better path. But my asana practice was pathetic and my ego struggle was epic. Around me, fellow students—mostly gorgeous twentysomethings—effortlessly moved into Urdhva Dhanurasana, Pincha Mayurasana, and Hanumanasana and flowed through endless Sun Salutations. The real nadir was the two weeks I struggled and sweated through every class—, when I should have been resting after expensive, complex infertility treatments. Clearly, I had lost perspective.
Then, a slow shift happened. I turned inward, focusing on what I could do well—learning Sanskrit words, reading assigned texts, memorizing anatomy and alignment. I spent more of my practice with closed eyes. After the training ended, I took a break from yoga
altogether. When I came back to a regular asana practice several months later, I committed more fully than I ever had before. Then I got a call from a teacher I met when she assisted in our training course; she wanted to know if I was interested in teaching at a small, city-owned gym where she oversees the yoga program.
After establishing that she knew who I was, exactly—I mean, why would she ask me?—she said she thought I had the spirit she wanted for the program, which she saw as practical and friendly, but with a nod to the spiritual side of things, too.
While I had never intended to teach (—I was more interested in simply getting my life on track) —the unexpected blessing of teaching two classes a week has easily taught me more about myself than I ever expected to learn. I have received a double gift: having someone else see me with kinder, gentler eyes and beginning to see myself that way, too.