On the Tenacity of Insecurities

(KANGOO Jumps) As if rollerblades weren’t tough enough. (Image sourced from Google.)

So today, I was White Space’s representative (along with friend and fellow yoga teacher Kat Albano) at the Fit All You Can event held at the Rockwell Tent. There, sandwiched between half-a-dozen skimpily-clad women hopping on Kangoo Jumps as if they were born with the things on their feet (they’re apparently NASA-certified; the box says: “Rebound Exercise is the Most Effective and Efficient Form of Exercise Yet Devised by Man“) and half-a-dozen fortunately-not-as-skimpily-clad men doing suspended push-ups with TRX equipment (the blurb read: “Fit for Victory. Ready to Win.”) I felt much the same way I did when I was a clumsy and bespectacled fourth-grader stranded amongst athletic peers.

In other words, I felt bewildered, ill-at-ease, insecure and out of place.

And yes, I teach people how to do yoga (for a living; among other things).

This is not as ironic as it seems. Elsewhere in this blog, I’ve talked about how I fell in love with yoga because it was precisely one of the few, overtly physical things that I could actually follow. Previous attempts at other group fitness classes always failed because I could never figure out what a grapevine was, couldn’t isolate my hips to save my life, and was always just moving to the right when everyone else was already moving to the left. It was a huge bonus for me to discover much later on that yoga actually came with a philosophy. The greatest gift it gave me was a sense of repossessing my own body.

So today’s experience was a humbling reminder of how tenacious childhood insecurities can be. It took just ten minutes of wandering around the different booths to undo five years of hard-won confidence. The thought that kept running through my head was: They’re what instructors should look like or should be. What can I possibly do that they can’t outdo?

The honest answer is: probably nothing. And that, strangely enough, is likely my greatest asset as a yoga teacher. I have to struggle twice as hard as the average athlete to get my body to do half as much. I know what it’s like to try again, and again, and again, and to fail again, and again, and again. And what’s born out of all that struggling is a deeply-felt sense of compassion for all who strive and fail.

So, no, I’m never going to be a superstar on the mat. And so will almost all of the other people I’ll be teaching yoga to. Which means: I’ll know exactly what they’re going through. And I can guide them through all of it.


8 thoughts on “On the Tenacity of Insecurities

  1. Ria says:

    Oh what a beautiful post! 🙂 I have been struggling with the same question, Eileen, especially as I get ready for my own teacher training. Who am I to teach yoga? I don’t even look the part (errr…fat yoga teacher, yes?) and I can’t even do decent balancing poses, what more headstands?!?! But yeah, I may not be a superstar at the end of training but I sure know what it’s like to be the fat, out of shape, unsure person in the room.


    • Eileen says:

      Love the honesty and vulnerability as always, Ria. 🙂 But see, this is what we need to see in yoga: its accessibility to the everywoman (and the everyman!). Ninety-eight percent of us will never look like we belong to the cover of Yoga Journal, and heaven forbid we actually do! It’s one thing for people to hear that yoga is for everyone; it’s another thing to see the possibility embodied in a teacher. You’ll make a wonderful guide and mentor, I have no doubt of that. 😀


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