On Teaching: #NaBloPoMo Day 14

I have a love/hate relationship with teaching. Part of me really enjoys it, while the rest of me is just terrified and anxious through the entire process. I remember when I was finishing massage school, I was so happy when I realized there was a teacher training program.

I stayed and completed the teacher training program with my massage mentors, which was an amazing experience. And still I stayed, once that was completed, to work at the college as a TA. I loved this kind of teaching. Mostly the pressure was off of me, and I was in charge of grading things and demonstrating techniques and helping to test massage students. Tests were great, because I got to lay on the table and receive massages, then try to give them the best feedback possible in the kindest way possible. There was so much to love about my school.

But as with all things, there were imperfections. There was a lot of drama, and some huge egos, and as poor business decisions were made, blame was thrown around. It seemed the further you waded into the land of teaching, the more bullshit there was to deal with. I began to lose interest in being around the school since it was making me more anxious than happy. When I became pregnant, I quit.

When my daughter was born I briefly tried to go back, but it really wasn’t working out. It wasn’t very much money and at the time I was our sole source of income, so I had to drop it, and by then I was starting to look like kind of a flake, so I didn’t think I could go back. Since then, many of my favorite teachers have moved on, and the whole thing makes me sad. Time moves on and the school continues, and for that I am grateful.

After doing massage for eight years, I was beginning to think I needed something to round out my skills and maybe get back into teaching in some way. I had been going to yoga classes at Pilgrimage of the Heart for years, and I was finally at a point where I thought I might be able to make it through their 200 hour teacher training program. My friend Kim and I both signed up, and we both made it through!

Yoga teacher training was such a beautiful experience. My heart opened in new and interesting ways. My knowledge of anatomy deepened. I lost most of the weight I had gained and kept after my pregnancy. Every single person I met through my training was beautiful and shiny, and they still are. My yoga teaching mentor Lauren was so patient with me, encouraging me, and then finally shoving me off of my books and notes and forcing me to teach without them.

Teaching yoga is so much fun. Teaching yoga is the most terrifying thing ever. Both of these things are true for me. It takes a lot for me to be up in front of a room full of people wearing close-fitting clothing and having all eyes on me. I get self-conscious and my anxiety kicks into high gear.

But at my yoga final, I did great. I had planned and practiced the class. I taught it well and felt very proud of myself. It was so hard to get up there and teach a class to a room full of people that are knowledgeable about yoga, but they are also so accepting that I felt safe. When it comes to a room full of doubting strangers, it is something else entirely.

I completed my yoga teacher training immediately before I had a nervous breakdown. I don’t think the two are related, but it was a bummer because I lost all the momentum I had gained through my training. As I was put onto medication, I gained back all the weight I had lost and sank into a deep depression. I tried to be gentle with myself, and with my light work schedule was able to go to yoga 3-4 days a week, but I had taken six months off at that point.

I try to stay in beginner’s mind, to approach each day anew, but it is so difficult every time I lose progress, I get so frustrated. It is a hard lesson in acceptance. Not only did my body lose progress, I had lost all of my notes from my training during my breakdown. Everything was gone, my detailed flash cards, anatomical sketches, notes on how to put together classes well and lead meditation and pranayama, all of it. My mentor was able to get me a replacement book with most of the basic information in it, which was super sweet, but I mourned my notes.

I only taught a few yoga classes before losing my nerve entirely. I am so scared to get up in front of a group of people now and try. Even one-on-one sessions, which I used to love, intimidate me. I think I would need to attend some retreats and maybe another training to really begin to teach again, if that’s even what I want. I’m not sure that it is.

Before I took medications, I used to get the best bliss during savasana. It would fill my whole body with light. Ever since I began taking antidepressants and a mood stabilizer, those feelings have vanished. I can have the best, most rewarding yoga session ever, and the bliss is simply gone. I know it is still worth it, but my mind gets the better of me sometimes.

I often think about going back to college to pursue a BA. I hear so much shit over liberal arts degrees. Is it even worth it? I already have a terrible outstanding student loan to deal with. I’ve already proven that teaching, especially alone by myself in front of a whole classroom, is a trial. I don’t know what I would do with a degree, but I still do daydream about going back to college. I’d need a tutor to pass College Algebra though, because fuck that class.

When I started massage school and yoga teacher training both, I had this antsy feeling beforehand. I didn’t know how much my life would change, but I knew change was coming. Lately, I have been getting that feeling again. It is getting close to time to stretch and grow and learn something new. I wonder what it will be. I can’t wait.

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