Milestones are these places where I usually find reflection. So today I am on the eve of a milestone and this has been on my mind. Although the more I think about it the less I'm really sure it means what I had thought it would. Today, I reached 999.5 teaching hours as a RYT, meaning I can add a few letters to my accreditation tomorrow after I teach my next class. E-RYT is to denote Experienced teacher but even after almost a 1,000 teaching hours for over 2 years- I don't feel expert at anything. I am totally at peace with this. too.
I have felt lonely as a teacher, I have felt a fraud, I have felt strong, I have felt empowered, I have felt unskilled and I've felt loved.
I have learned that the best part of my teaching doesn't come with creating flyers or posting on social media or doing much "business" like things to cultivate my teaching. neither do these things feel deeply fulfilling when I put them out there in the world. These things are external and to me are easy to create, excruciatingly vulnerable to share but realistically it really isn't why or how or who practices with me. The best part of my teaching usually comes from sharing me- the real me- and noticing my students.
Even mid-life I am still trying to figure out me. for a while, I thought it was mostly being a novice at teaching and that is partially true but ultimately, when I feel anything that is unsettling or off it usually is more about an imbalance I haven't examined(or ignored for awhile) or fully discovered in my life more than my teaching. I am a novice at life! and to that I say Whew, what a relief - I have so much else to explore!!!
I have been feeling lonely and I appreciate that while once my response to loneliness was to cry and curl up in a ball forever in bed..... or at least until the next day to open my eyes and maybe come out. Now when that loneliness settles in I honor and recognize its presence, I find the sweetest friends, the most compassionate partner, the practice I want or the support I need.
Feeling like a fraud used to also make me cry and curl up in a small non-existent ball in bed too, but now when that feeling happens I have so many good tools to pull from and I acknowledge that it usually is a place of growth that is either trying to happen or is happening- I see/experience that thing and wish I was somewhere in that realm and understand that I am not there.......YET. The experience is now more of a beautiful dance with dissonance.
Feeling strong for me used to always come from feedback from students, peers, mentors and it seemed like the only lifeline I had to feeling strength. Gladly, I still appreciate and sometimes long for this external information, but now I seek and find it from a little flame ignited. It still is small and fragile but continues to fuel me and glow from within. I feel most strength when I practice, although I have to remind myself to nourish this fuel frequently. Always be a practitioner, always be a student. NO MATTER WHAT is going on in your life, make the time - you deserve it.
I have felt unskilled as a teacher but never afraid to express this. Sometimes it has arrived as an unanswered question in front of my students or peers. (know and use your safety net) This is also the place I have found empowerment. Teach lots - you will not know everything always- actually probably never. Teaching does get easier with time. Simply teach, guest teach, teach something you didn't think you could teach. Lots and lots and lots- share your heart- it only grows with being put out there.
I have also greatly felt loved. I have felt loved by so many that support me, fellow teachers, my husband, my mentor, my students and the scariest biggest experience is to find love within. Embracing Love had to happen with the intensity of a fire hose of water into my being it was not a the experience of gentle trickling stream flowing in. When I taught my first few classes, I was SOOOOOOOO F'ing nervous. And I just wanted to teach. I just wanted to be a yoga teacher. period. Early on the "thing" I was unique and noticed for was daring to teach as a bigger bodied being. I intentionally hid behind my fat for a looooong time. It was no longer a shield it was the FIRST thing everyone experienced in my class. mostly in a way that brought comfort and ease to their being in the class. but I wasn't whole heartedly embracing what I was. that thing. What felt like quickly, but realistically happened over a few months, I read about, learned from other trailblazin' teachers, created mantras, started wearing it like a misfit garment, than ultimately tailored it to wrap my body my brain and my heart, finally it became a comfortable skin and then soaked in even deeper. loving my body as it is today and the phenomenal things it allows me to do as a yoga practitioner, and a teacher. So my "E" will stand for Embrace. I embrace all of these things with whole hearted gratitude.
I'm Valerie, Yoga Teacher and following my Sankalpa!