By Alison Silack
When I first signed up for the Yoga Seed’s 200-hour teacher training, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach—or, rather, I wasn’t sure if I was capable. I had been toying with the idea for a few years and finally mustered the courage to just do it already. The timing was right, the money was available and, newly sober, I was feeling better than I had in a long time and eager to take my long-held dreams and put them into action. I went into the experience with very few expectations about what it would be like and what the results of my training would be. All I knew was this alleged “comfort zone” I’d been hiding in for years was starting to get really uncomfortable and I wanted nothing more than to bust down the walls and break out of it, to finally see what I was actually capable of accomplishing.
I walked into that first weekend of assisting training excited and really, really nervous. In opening circle, I introduced myself in a voice that quivered with nerves and admitted right off the bat how grateful I was to be there but also how utterly terrified. Heads nodded in agreement and I thought, “Hm. This is a safe space. I think I can be vulnerable here.” But the nervousness didn’t fade just then and I spent the bulk of that weekend and the next feeling socially anxious and unsure. I made mistakes. I cried in my car on my lunch break. I left each day feeling exhausted in every sense of the word. But I didn’t give up. Something in me knew that the pain and discomfort would be worth it, eventually.
I kept coming back. It started getting better. (Not easier, but better.) I continued to share my thoughts and fears during opening and closing circle and continued to see compassionate faces looking back at me as if to say, “me too.” I started making friends, despite my awkwardness that just won’t quit. We started practice teaching and I discovered that, not only did I not hate it, I loved it, just as I loved everything we were learning about asana, pranayama, meditation, yogic philosophy, anatomy, and social justice. I cried a lot, but I also laughed a lot, and on the weekends I wasn’t there, in the safe space that we as a group had created, I missed it terribly.
Teacher training asked a lot of me. Aside from the obvious things, like time and money, it asked me to look at parts of myself long-hidden; it asked me to examine my habits and patterns and their effect on my well-being; it asked me to examine the ways in which I relate to myself and others; it asked me to learn the new-to-me languages of sanskrit and anatomy; it asked me to teach before I felt ready; it asked me to be vulnerable and open and brave; it asked me to do a lot of sun salutations. But it asked me to do all of these things in the embrace of loving, supportive community, and in the warmth of that embrace, I started to grow wings. Each time I was scared to do something, and did it anyway, and started to see that the fear of the thing is nearly always a million times worse than the doing of the thing, those wings got a little bit bigger. They’re still growing today, but they’re big enough to help me fly now and then. Cheesy metaphors aside, what I’m trying to say is it was worth it.
My road to yoga teacher training included nearly three years of dancing on the fence, wanting to take the leap but not trusting myself to do so. I fully believe that this was the road I had to take, but perhaps your journey there needn’t take so long. If you find yourself on the fence about teacher training, I urge you take a moment to sit quietly with yourself and examine the reasons behind this indecision. If you discover the driving force to be fear—that you’re not ready, that you’re not good enough, that you don’t have what it takes—I encourage you to step right into that fear. Make that leap. Take that chance. Go for it. Though the experience will most certainly be challenging, I’d venture to say it will be worth it for you, too. Challenge, after all, is a prerequisite for growth.