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.