Why I’m Afraid to Become a Yoga Teacher

Tomasz Stasiuk - Do not fear failure
Photo by Tomasz Stasiuk

Our next Yoga Teacher Training Program begins in September 2015. Maybe you are thinking of applying, but some fears or insecurities are nipping at your heels. In this post, Marta (one of our 2014 Yoga Teacher Trainees, who recently graduated from our program) shares about the fear and anxiety that can come along with pursuing something that you love. 

Fear.  It happens to all of us.  I’m not talking about the kind of fear that makes you leap out of bed in the middle of the night and run to the bathroom so the monsters don’t catch you and gobble you up (so far so good on that one).  I’m talking about the fear of not being awesome.

I love yoga.  I love doing yoga, reading about yoga, watching yoga, talking about yoga… you get the drift.  Yoga has enriched my life in ways that I never imagined possible.  It has given me tools to help manage my anxiety and depression.  It has taught me how to practice happiness.  It has challenged me to take a close look at what I think, how I speak, how I behave, and it is still doing so every day.  It has taught me how to breathe.

Perhaps most importantly, it has introduced the idea that it’s OK not to be awesome all of the time at everything.  In other words, yoga has been a practice in self acceptance for me.  While I love the idea, it’s still a work in progress.  Most days I can look in the mirror and embrace the image I see there with love and compassion.  Win!  I can spend the day with some awesome friends and realize that I’ve cultivated a life for myself that I enjoy.  Win!  I can have a really bad day, or a bad week, spend a few moments feeling sorry for myself, and then remind myself of all of the wonderful things I am grateful for in my life.  Win!

Most days.

The path to becoming a yoga teacher has not gone smoothly for me.  It has been fraught with self doubt and anxiety.  The one thing that has given me so much joy in my life is bringing me to my knees.  We are reading a lot of books in YTT, and the one I’m reading right now tells me to name it.  Give the feeling a name.  Note it, and move on.  So here goes nothing.

I feel so afraid that I won’t be good at teaching yoga.  I’m terrified that my students will think I’m a giant fraud, that my instructions will suck, that my themes will be cheesy, that I won’t fit in as a yoga teacher.  It has been a constant theme in my life, the fear of not fitting in, not being good enough.  It is difficult to acknowledge that as far as my yoga practice has taken me, this challenge, this path to becoming a yoga teacher has brought me face to face with my biggest fears.

I had a revelation about fear one day while taking a shower.  It’s a great time to reflect, scrubbing the body, scrubbing the mind.  In the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian scripture that forms the basis of common yoga philosophy, several paths to spiritual enlightenment are identified, one being the path of karma yoga.  The popular interpretation of the idea of karma is that what goes around, comes around.  For me, the most intriguing aspect of Karma is the idea that to escape the cycle of cause and effect and to move past suffering, you must perform your actions without attachment to the result.

As I was scrubbing my hair with my favourite all natural, unscented, locally made, shampoo bar (ha!), I contemplated the origin of fear and traced it back to this idea of Karma.  When I do something and have expectations of what the outcome might be, whether it’s beginning a new relationship, trying a new recipe, studying for a test, I am disappointed when the results of my efforts don’t meet my expectations.  What I realized right there in the shower, is that when we feel fear, aside from issues of safety, what we are really feeling is the anticipation of disappointment and the desire to avoid it at all costs.  Sometimes the reaction to fear is working your butt off to achieve the goal you have in mind, potentially at the risk of your health, relationships, and other obligations.  Sometimes the reaction is to give up, to quit before you fail.  I’ve certainly tried both but I think I’m ready for something new.

I am going to face my fear by challenging my expectations.  I am going to continue to practice my teaching and sit with the idea that maybe someone in the class didn’t get what they needed out of my sequence, that maybe someone downright hated taking my class, that maybe an idea that rings so true for me will fall flat on someone else’s ears.  I will wake up the next day and plan my next class and remember that not everyone can relate to my journey and my teaching.  All I can do is put my best effort into preparing, into sharing all that I’ve learned, and trust that the effort in itself is the reward.

Maybe I won’t be the most amazing yoga teacher.  I think I’m OK with that idea.  And maybe that’s the whole point.

marta headshot finalxo, Marta

“When you learn, teach.” ~Maya Angelou

Marta recently graduated from our 2014 Yoga Teacher Training program, and is now alternating teaching the Friday 5:30pm Hour Flow with her fellow YTT graduate Kristina!  Practicing and teaching yoga are among her many loves which also include her handsome, furry companion Max; beautiful, healthful food; long conversations over wine; wiggly, awkwardly long hugs; and squinty-eyed smiles.  Yoga has been her pathway for a delightfully strong and bendy body, an outlet for creativity, and a celebration of spirit.  You can follow her on twitter @martasyogamat

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