I have a lot to be grateful for this year. Loving my new job, strengthening my relationships, achieving a renewed sense of stability and contentment. But by far the thing that I'm most grateful for is the Yoga Teacher Training I completed last weekend.
I've been toying around with the idea of taking a Yoga Teacher Training for several years, but never followed through because I didn't feel comfortable pursuing one without first being able to do more challenging asanas or poses. I set arbitrary milestones for myself. Only when I can do a handstand, or place my hands flat on my mat in a forward fold, or hold really difficult arm balances should I consider myself worthy or ready. I saw yoga as something I needed to physically conquer before I could allow myself to move forward.
However, I've been practicing a lot of "Yes" recently, so when I found out that one of the most challenging yoga teachers I've practiced with was co-teaching a training through Equinox, I said, "yes" and signed up. Even though I'd only taken 3 classes with him, even though I still didn't feel "ready," and even though I spent most of this year broke and unemployed and wasn't confident I'd be able to afford it, I thought fuck it and leaped. I ended up getting my new job just when the first deposit was due.
I counted down the days until the training with a mixture of fear and anticipation. Work had started to pick up, I was dating again, and I worried about how I would fit everything in after spending 10 months getting acclimated to a life with very few obligations. Could I do this? Do I even remember how to balance my life? Am I about to be in way over my head?
In hindsight, I probably could have used yoga most when making the decisions that led to the start of my training. And while I've learned so much during the past 10 weeks (much of which I'm sure I'll bore you with over the next several months/the rest of eternity), the two most important lessons I took away were:
1. To root my identity in myself, who I am at my core - driven, confident, intense, vulnerable - and not in external identities that could change.
Sure, I'm doing well at work now, but my work situation could completely change next year. I can do some fun stuff in my yoga practice now, but eventually I'll age and lose the physical ability to do these poses. I'm trying to avoid the mistakes I've made in the past of defining myself through my work and my relationships and other non-fixed identities, because as I've also learned in the last year, losing these identities can be confusing and depressing.
2. To find ease in effort and honor where I am in the present moment.
Generally speaking I'm kind of a lazy person (my family can vouch for this), but when I push myself, I really push myself, always with an eye on what success "should" look like. Growing up it used to bother me that I had so many interests, because I always felt like I was spreading myself too thin and hindering myself from reaching the highest levels of achievement.
I knew I was a good writer, but I never felt worthy of being published. I knew I was fairly smart, but I chalked up my good grades to sheer luck and an aptitude for last minute cramming. I knew I was a decent dancer, but I never felt like I was good enough to audition for more professional teams. On and on, a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
It's perhaps one of the most ironic aspects of my personality - I can be so fucking overconfident, and yet simultaneously feel not good enough at anything I do. I waited on taking a Yoga Teacher Training until I felt "ready," until I felt "deserving." And looking back I now wonder - how many other opportunities have I shunned because I didn't feel good enough or ready or deserving?
I push myself out of a need to prove myself to myself. But I'm getting better at not jumping ahead and fueling the disappointment that I'm still not exactly where I want to be. Instead, I'm focusing on finding a deeper appreciation of where I am in the present moment, and honoring the progress I've made to get to this point.
I still can't hold a handstand consistently, but the fact that I can even attempt one away from a wall is something I never thought possible. I still question whether I could ever write full-time one day, but I know there are people out there who find value in my writing, and that feels promising. I'm also finally getting over the Imposter Syndrome I had the first couple of months at my new job, where I felt like a fraud and completely undeserving of my role.
There's that word again. "Deserve." I'm working on learning that I deserve everything that I have, that I'm good enough just the way I am.
I've been meditating and practicing yoga everyday, trying to maintain the sense of groundednesss I've built over the past 2.5 months. I still have moments where I find myself sitting in my thoughts and spiraling into strange places and fantasies, but mostly these days I feel lighter, clearer, and calmer. Honestly, I'm a little bit of a walking cliche - finishing a yoga training and being all zen. But I also kind of feel like this is what I've been building up to over the course of this year - going deeper into myself and carving out a new identity, one that feels more whole and balanced.
My Yoga Teacher Training classes are done, but I still have about ~60 hours left to complete my 200 hours, which I'm hoping to finish by February so I can start subbing a class here and there (maybe). And while I may have reached the end of my program, I know that this is just the beginning of a new journey, one I can't wait to fully embark on.