I never set out to be a mentor. I never even imagined that I’d ever be in a position to teach people how to teach yoga. And yet, in the past two years, all signs are pointing to that very thing.
First, I developed a restorative yoga teacher training program. I started it because I was just bursting with stuff to share about this practice and it sort of took on a life of its own!
Then I was invited to teach in the 2016 Yoga Teaching Training program at CHY. This is at the same time totally scary and absolutely thrilling.
In addition, one of my oldest yoga teaching colleagues and friends, Naomi Gottlieb-Miller asked me to teach her Yoga Teacher Training group at Lighthouse Yoga while she is out on maternity leave.
And finally and the point of this entire story, two very dear yoga teachers who are students of mine came to me in the same week with the very same crisis of confidence: “I don’t know if I should be teaching yoga.”
I explained to them both what happened to me when I encountered this very same crisis about 8 years ago.
I graduated from yoga teacher training in 2005, the same year I got married and bought a house, all while working a full-time job AND working part-time at the yoga studio in exchange for yoga teacher training tuition. (Yes, you read that right. I was doing all of that at the same time. Type A, pitta, overachiever much? No wonder I needed yoga!)
Then, before I’d even graduated from YTT, I accepted a teaching job, taking over a class from one of my teachers who was moving away from DC. For about a year and half after I finished YTT, I was teaching several classes per week and I loved it. Teaching yoga lit me up in a way that nothing else really did.
Then I had a baby. And when Jack was three months old, I had to go back to my full-time job. I had great visions of continuing my practice and my teaching schedule. Afterall, I was well practiced at doing everything!
But it didn’t work out like I planned. I was barely making it onto the mat for my own practice. I was struggling to get to my classes to teach, and I certainly wasn’t being mindful with my class plans or my intentions when I was in the seat of the teacher. All of my students who were so thrilled I was coming back from maternity leave just stopped coming to class.
Looking back, it’s not surprising that happened. I was completely disconnected from my relationship with yoga and rightly so! I needed to work full-time and take care of a baby. Teaching yoga fell to the lowest rungs of the priority ladder.
So I quit. I quit teaching. It was traumatic and I cried a lot.
But you know what happened? Not too long after all of that, things settled way down. Jack was sleeping at night plus we scored a spot in the daycare at my work, Drew (my husband) got a new job, and we had all gotten more comfortable with this-is-life-with-a-kid routine. Drew encouraged me to go back to taking classes at a studio. Within two months of going back to group classes, three amazing teaching opportunities landed right at my feet. I didn’t even really intend to go back to teaching at that point but I just knew when those opportunities knocked, it was time to answer the door. My first class back in the seat of the teacher, the entire class burst out in applause after the final om.
A crisis in confidence, about whether you should teach yoga, or should stick it out in your job, or continuing in a relationship, is really just a call to check your priorities. It’s a chance to examine what’s best for you, what serves you. I’m not advocating rash decisions. Certainly we all have ups and downs. An off class, a bad day at work, a fight with our partners. But when more days and times are like that than they are good or when you intuition is giving you messages that what’s happening just isn’t right, it’s time to consider a change. Here are three ways to face your crisis of confidence:
- Write about it. Sit down and make a pro/con list. It’s the oldest school of the old school. But lots of times, it works. The trick is to do this more than once. Write out your pro/con list and then tuck it away for a few days. Go back and write a second one. Maybe even a third one a few days after that. Then sit down and compare all three lists. The answer might be clear.
- Talk to people you trust who love you. Almost always other people in my life can see things more clearly than I can. You know how it’s always easier to solve other people’s problems than it is to solve your own, right? Getting some outside perspective can be just what you need.
- Get on your yoga mat. You had to expect that one was coming! There’s a great quote that I come back to all the time, “Put your yoga to it”. I don’t know who originally said it, but it works for me every time. When you are confused, head to your mat. Maybe it’s sun salutations, or savasana, or seated meditation. And even better, get into class in community. Practicing alone is powerful, essential even, but practicing as part of a group is even more magical. Among a group of yogis, you feel held up by the folks practicing around you, even if you don’t say a word to anyone in the room.