On the Terror of Unknowns


(SUPTA Kurmasana) The sleeping tortoise pose. (Image sourced through Google.)

For the nth time in several months, I got an offer to teach yoga.

This should not come as a surprise. I did, after all, sink an entire month and an obscene amount of money to get trained to teach yoga. That inquiries, offers and requests should be forthcoming is, as they say, par for the course.

The only problem is: I’m rather hesitant in pursuing them. And not only is the hesitation unexpected (in the sense of “aren’t you getting what you asked for?”), it’s also uncharacteristic (in the sense of “where did your usual arrogance—okay, fine, let’s call it confidence—go?”)

I’ve been puzzling over this for some time now and have only gotten to the bottom of things today (after said nth offer came traipsing in through text).

The thing that intimidates me about teaching yoga is that, for some strange reason, I don’t feel safe in admitting any ignorance in this field.

Let me say that another way: in yoga, unlike in other areas of my life, I’m afraid to admit that I might not know something (which is tantamount to not knowing everything).  Everywhere else, whether it’s teaching philosophy or doing consulting or writing freelance, I’m perfectly comfortable in saying “I don’t know.” There’s no fear in delineating the boundaries of my ignorance: this here is the known and familiar shore, that over there is mare incognitum, and it’s completely acceptable that the incognita should vastly exceed the cognita.

For some reason, that’s not how I feel about yoga.

I suspect it has a lot to do with a deep-seated insecurity about physicality that continues to persist despite all the progress that I’ve actually made. It’s okay if I don’t know things in the mental realm, because I can always fall back on inference or logic. After all, I’ve been a nerd my entire life: the intellectual abysses have been charted and mapped and the alternative trails have been drawn and marked. But with this thing called the human body . . . there’s only a black hole that absorbs all possible illumination—and the stakes are incredibly higher (one of my favored cold-sweat-inducing-scenarios: adjusting someone in Supta Kurmasana; to know what this pose looks like, see the image above).

But if teaching yoga is anything like learning it, then there’s no going around the fear: there’s just facing it again, and again, and again, and again, until sheer familiarity makes it positively boring.

So, to all the offers that have come (and will continue to come) my way, the answer is: yes, yes, yes and yes.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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