CONQUERING SELF DOUBT BY CULTIVATING SELF-LOVE: One Yogini’s YTT Journey
I almost quit yoga teacher training before it began.
As I drove to the first session of my 200-hour yoga teacher training program, I tried to contemplate every reason in the proverbial book to turn my car around and, quite simply, bail.
Sure, I had maintained a regular home practice and studio practice for a few years. Sure, I considered myself someone, if not already taking baby steps and subsequent relapses on the road to enlightenment, spiritually inclined. Sure, I considered myself a yoga student. But a soon to be yoga teacher in training?
Here’s where I have to be completely honest about a few things.
It was not so much my love for yoga (which is immense) that drove me to enroll in YTT as it was a broken heart, or, moreover, the guilt for breaking a heart. I found myself at the severing end of a long relationship with someone who, despite my having love for to this day, simply was not the human for me.
As necessary and ultimately inevitable as our split was, the hurt, confusion, and guilt was overwhelming. And I found myself at a crossroads: I could immerse myself in bad habits and fall down the slippery slope of self-destruction, or I could immerse myself in a new experience doing something I love in an effort to make sense of a world that felt upside down; YTT was that experience.
What I did not anticipate was for my experience in YTT to help me mend my broken heart in ways innumerable. It didn’t happen hour one or hour two, or even hour 150 or hour 195, but it happened and it continues to happen every day.
This mending, this healing, would not have been possible without the absolute vulnerability that YTT demanded of me. It demanded vulnerability in opening up to, at first, virtual strangers; it demanded vulnerability in practice teaching an asana, a Sun A, a Sun B, a Sun C for the first time; it demanded vulnerability in sharing deep-rooted fears, traumas, successes, triumphs, and joys without shame, hesitation, or judgement.
If someone would have told me that a group of individuals who I, at first, hardly knew, would be the ones to help me mend my broken heart through being vulnerable and stumbling through my first practice teaching session, I would not have believed it. But they did. And it did not come easily, nor did it come after sparse tears, but it happened. And it continues to happen each and every day.
It was not so much my confidence in my practice, or myself as a whole, that led me to YTT as it was a seemingly never-ending battle with my seemingly un-mutable self-doubt. Much of my adult life has been plagued with those incessant voices that subtly whisper “You still are not enough” in moments of triumph and “See? Told you so” in moments of failure. And, as yoga was, and continues to be, one of the few experiences that helps me conquer those voices, I found the notion of a 200-hour teacher training program during which I could potentially mute those voices appealing, to say the least.
What I did not anticipate was for my experience in YTT to not only help me identify the source of my self-doubt, but ultimately equip me with mechanisms to keep it at bay.
Committing to a 200-hour yoga teacher training program required so much more than an intensified asana practice (which stirs up plenty in and of itself.) My 200-hour YTT experience required me to confront my own satya; my truth. My truth at that time was that I was being very unkind and way too hard on myself; that this was taking a significant toll on my soul; and that something absolutely had to change. This often required, and still requires, me to resist the urge to leave everything behind when I step onto my mat and rather to bravely confront the self-doubt and self-criticism, try to discover where it comes from, and ultimately to forgive myself for a lot of past decisions and behaviors. This confrontation of my truth, while scary, continues to be freeing, and crucial to my personal development, on and off the mat.
It was not so much a clearly defined plan to teach yoga that propelled me into YTT as it was feeling absolutely and completely stuck and lost on my current path, if you could even call it a path. I found myself at once directionless, uninspired, lost, and overwhelmed by the sheer uncertainty that my life held for me. Rather than finding excitement, joy, and possibility in the unknown, I found nerves, dread, and reservation. And, I decided that rather than watching myself continue to flail aimlessly, at the very least enrolling in YTT would allow me to flail in a direction.
What I did not anticipate was for my experience in YTT to help me to accept where I am in my life’s experience, right now, and embrace the shit out of it every. Single. Day. I did not realize how much my inability to let go of the past and to stop worrying about the future impeded me from simply experiencing what life had in store for me in the present.
And while what I was experiencing in the present was not always pleasant, by simply allowing myself to experience it fully, honestly, and wholly, I was able to let go of what was not serving me and reprioritize the humans, the experiences, the goals, the dreams, and the hopes that do serve me.
Yoga teacher training introduced me to a level of depth in my practice, and an according level of exploration, that transcended asana and became an experience more transformative than I could have imagined. And the personal growth and exploration that it spurred was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
While I dived into teaching yoga with nerves seemingly beyond my control, guiding classes at Better Buzz Yoga is something I feel honored and humbled to be a part of every single time I step into the studio.
There are few, if any, experiences I have been a part of in my life that are as powerful and profound as hearing a roomful of yogini's and yogis inhale and exhale as one. Don’t get me wrong; a little over a year into teaching, I stumble. I confuse my lefts and rights. Words that, by all standards, should be mastered like “heel,” “hip,” and “shoulder,” still evade my mouth from time to time. But authentically and honestly sharing my love for this practice by guiding fellow practitioners in breath and movement is something I look forward to every week as I plan my classes and make my playlists. I never thought sharing my admiration for this practice would supersede my love for my personal practice, but it is damn close. Word stumbles and all.
I don’t know, and I can’t speak to, if everyone who has gone through a yoga teacher training had as profound of an experience as I had. But I do know this: an investment in yourself is never a bad investment. For this yogini, that is exactly what yoga teacher training was. An investment in fostering self-exploration; an investment encouraging in self-growth; an investment in conquering self-doubt; an investment in cultivating self-love; an investment in myself that led me to a community I am humbled to serve, and forever grateful to be a part of.
For more information on, or to take a leap into, BBYTT, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org