“If you can’t feel excited by your own creative output, you have to try something new. No one can innovate without destroying or dissolving what came before.” These words came to me from a deeply trusted ally in the Spring of 2015. I was questioning my impact. I was vacillating about signing up for Yoga Union teacher training. I was in the crucible of a perfectionist bout, trying to create original dance pieces with social impact, and I was stuck. So stuck. Upon hearing these wise words amidst my decision making, I asked myself “How can a yoga teacher training certification program help a creative block?” I honestly had no idea.
Carl Jung said “Only the dreamer knows the dream.” My waking visions were of a pending breakthrough. A gut feeling was saying the teacher training could be a door opening. At night I literally dreamed of Indra: God of the Heavens, stirring and erupting the skies, calling me to put myself right in the Storm, to wake up to Life with invigorated breath, to trust my unique impulses toward social justice. I was being pulled, though the internal skies were still thick with clouds.
People’s voices were buzzing in my ears. Well-intended friends and family were telling me what I’d heard my whole life “You should be more self-confident. Let go all the self-doubt.” Additionally, I was hearing again and again that I was gifted at helping people. The truth? It was challenging to digest these messages. It had always been challenging. Harder still for me was hearing them within spiritual communities. The appreciation, care and honor was dear. True friendship is eternally invaluable. The difficulty was stomaching the knowing that my path was one of committed dissolution of what I had been, and purely not knowing how to muster any confidence in a self which no longer fit a vision for the world I desired. I hungered for humility. I wanted to be undone in some way, and to merge and recollect, like a refugee longs to return to her/his homeland. This longing was my prakriti, as real and natural for me as the rising and setting Sun.
In the past I would have judged this longing as neurosis. Additionally, I would have judged well-intended loved ones as trying to promote a new-age narcissism within me. I would have been suspicious of it all, exalting stoicism. Yet, I was older and just a wisp wiser. I knew these judgments were dead-ends. Within this, something true arose. A yearning was galvanized inside of me to find a thread for my disparate parts, a yoking.
Yoga was slowly becoming this thread. Specifically, practicing at Yoga Union. I would arrive in class and surrender within and without myself. Slowly this would happen. Practicing started to subtly undo me. It happened again and again. One day the weight of the world’s suffering hung cumbersome across my back. I felt I’d die from the sadness of loss on our planet. The next day, in practice, I felt the axis of my presence as a plentitude, sufficient to heal in the world. It also happened that while I mysteriously reassembled, I would be flooded with appreciation for the precious fragility of us all on our mats, practicing together. A path was being lit, a fresh awareness of freedom inside of me shown, woven through breath and listening to the wisdom offered.
Then, one day, in class these words came “Sharp like a razor’s edge is the Path.” The beloved teacher spoke this in class, suspended from quiet presence, radiant smile and soft eyes, with no trace of stress. I expected some stress in this speaking of the Path as a razor, from Upanishads. Diana, the teacher, had no edge. The experience landed in my belly with resounding stillness. The experience was a lyric clinging to my viscera, clear and true. Opposites were merging. The thought came into my head: “Oh no, square one! I’m back at the beginning again.” Then some breaths, and the next thought came “ Oh wait. I’m always back at the beginning! But, I’m here practicing with my teachers in my yoking place. Thank you.” It was exactly what was needed. I signed up for the yoga teacher certification.
Everyday, specifically since the training has begun, as I “show up on the mat,” I get a body remembrance of how Life is distilling infinite wisdom and offering it with affinity, ongoing, if I am willing to slow down, practice, practice more, and receive. I have been unwilling at times. Oh yes. I have missed the natural opportunities to bow to generous teachers, humbly offering their gifts each day. I have clung to an identity as an “outsider.” Somehow though, wrangling internally, doing the dukkha dance, I leaned into dissolution and it has been sweet.
Committing to study with teachers, and reach this hand into the unknown, has brought wild hurdles. There have been the obvious logistical hurdles with the teacher training, ones I share with everyone in my cohort. My personal flavor is that I’m a single working mom, with majority custody of my two children (I have learned to court this special fatigue with lots of chocolate). There is a financial hurdle as well. Being in an artistic, healing profession —like so many of us— the income forecast can get very stormy. Currently I’m no exception. These are my hurdles, time and money. They are places we all know well, shared spaces. They are places on the path to gather, build strength, and increase endurance.
The one rational thought I had in signing up for yoga teaching training was income opportunity. The Yoga Union community, for me, is grounded. I imagined the real possibility of helping people, upon completion, in ways that would be unique, long-lasting, and full of beneficial physical shifts . I felt a deep trust in the hands of Annie, to guide potential teachers toward health, healing, and wellness that was measurable and tangible for students. Thus far, I have never once been disappointed.
In the training, we have left zero stones unturned. Repeatedly, there have been Sutra stories offered in the most serendipitous of times. Indra visited, again, this time through a healing story shared during a real-time health crisis within our training. There has been rigor required of us, again and again. There has been the call to show up and speak up with authentic voices, from the guru within each of us, as emerging teachers of yoga. There has been constant fires stoked, saying “stay awake” and noting that the path requires a ruthlessness, a razor’s edge walk, one of humility and certainty of Self. With mystery, we have been shown by the teachers how to walk this path of compassion, confidence, patience, and plenty of trust.
I know we can all glamorize and be mesmerized by our own quest and attainment of Truth. Through this training I have come to know that real liberation comes from continually returning to how much we do not know. I have experienced more surprising joy than can be measured, by how much not-knowing has been accepted and embraced. The reminders from our teachers has been how they are always learning, always students.. Yet, their vast knowledge is oh-so real and prevalent. I will be digesting and assimilating for years what I have been taught. This is exciting.
I am a teacher at heart. I love to teach. I’ve taught dance and therapeutic movement for over 15 years. I’ve performed since I was a child. I’ve allowed my body to be embedded with performance perfectionism. Simultaneously I’ve doggedly sought out a creative edge, exploring and wandering to unknowns. To receive the teachings of the Sutras, asana, mantra, alignment-based vinyasa, bio-mechanics, and applied kinesiology, again and again, has been a salve for my hungry soul. There are many places to study yoga and many ways to absorb the yogic teachings. In my experience, the teachers of this certification training hold stewardship. They are stewards for the mystical and technical, the ancient and the modern within this practice of embodied, life-giving yoking.
This teacher training has settled and excited me. It has stirred and calmed me. I have found and lost myself through the enormity of this lineage. I’ve found a softer curve in my hard line of social justice. A creative fire has returned, I’m so happy to say. The tapas of my practice, the disciple fire has returned me in the repose of humility and curious expectation over and over. It is exhilarating to rest and burn here in this teacher training. My life is better for it. Hopefully others lives will be too.