How Yoga Teacher Training Nearly Broke Me
In 2013, I began practicing yoga. I started this practice because I was broken in my heart and soul. A yogi friend suggested it might help. It did. I loved how I felt at the end of a class, all tingly, happy and calm. Practicing made me feel a little less broken.
By the middle of 2014, I decided I wanted to share these feelings. I could teach my family and friends, I could work part-time as a yoga teacher, I could help people find their bliss. I thought I could help teenagers with depression and anxiety. People with eating disorders. My obese mother, my friend with diabetes, my friend going through a tough breakup, my cousin who’d had a stroke. Everyone. Everyone. Everyone. I was so excited.
I found a yoga teacher training course that was close by. And I could afford it. My parents looked after my seven year-old while I was in class. The stars aligned. It was going be amazing.
And for the first few weeks, it was amazing.
We learned to teach the asanas, we learned about Ayurveda, about the sutras and chakras and Patanjali and neti pots and meditation and nutrition. We chanted in Sanskrit. We taught hour long classes to each other. We practiced and practiced. I was finally able to do Urdhva Dhanurasana, wheel pose.
And then something snapped. I got confused with the things my teacher was saying. I looked around the class, I looked nothing like any of them. I couldn’t do all the head stands and handstands and balances.
I started asking questions about taking classes for older people, for trades people, for people in bigger bodies, for sick people, for people who aren’t beach babe bendy beauties. People who don’t like their bodies. Who can’t afford to go to yoga retreats in Bali. Who aren’t able to spend $90 on yoga pants. Whose breasts don’t fit into cute neon sports crops. Who can’t do forward folds, let alone wheel poses.
I started questioning some of the off-hand comments my teacher was saying.
When we were discussing bio-mechanics and how to help students in our classes, she laughed and told us to “ensure that someone actually had lordosis and not just a fat ass.”
I asked about the philosophy she was explaining to us; the ego, the need for presence, the truth about who we really are and then, how this related to the lengthy discussions we were having in class about Facebook accounts and Instagram posts and business strategies and making heaps of money. She told me that “social media, in the yoga world, was all smoke and mirrors”. She was constantly sharing images of herself on the beach, in her perfect body, with her professional photographer, in her bikini, with her blonde hair. Her smoke and mirrors made her rich and adored. She travelled the world.
She said that wanting abundance didn’t mean we weren’t yogis. That promoting our business was our way of living from our yoga passions. And part of me agreed.
But I wasn’t abundant. I didn’t (and still don’t) have the ‘typical’ yoga body. I was a single mum at the time, living paycheck to paycheck as a secondary school teacher. I wanted to share yoga to help people. My people. People like me. And I started questioning whether I’d be able to because I wasn’t like her.
I wasn’t like anyone in the yoga world I’d immersed myself in.
I realised I was still very much broken and now I had spent all my money on a course that I didn’t believe in.
I questioned the teaching of my teacher. I didn’t want her to be my teacher. I didn’t want people to associate me with her.
The class contact hours finished and then we had three months to complete the course work.
My classmate finished the tasks and received her certificate. It had an image of our blonde, beautiful teacher in boat pose, wearing a string/wrap bikini on it. On the beach. I was mortified. The certificate was an homage to her and her ego. I was judging her, her success, her beauty, her ability to do the most difficult balancing poses. She was everything I wasn’t, and I hated myself for it.
I found reasons not to finish. I made excuses not to see my classmates to catch up. I didn’t want to see them. I was ashamed that I hadn’t finished the course. I was ashamed of my non-yogi body. I was ashamed that I was still broken.
Soon I stopped practicing. I was off the mat then, for two years. I’d lost my passion. I’d lost yoga.
In 2015, my partner and I had a baby boy. By the end of 2016, I was pregnant with my baby girl. My pregnancies were physically and emotionally very difficult. My body was tired. And I realised, towards the end of my last pregnancy, the middle of 2017, that I was feeling broken again. In my soul. I didn’t know who I was outside of being a mama.
I missed yoga.
When my little girl was six weeks old, I got on the mat. I practiced with YouTube videos while my little ones were napping, while my big one was at school. I went to a chakra workshop with my friend for her fortieth birthday. I taught a ‘class’ to a few friends while we were away camping. Two of them are morbidly obese. Afterwards they both told me that they had loved it, that they felt tingly and happy and calm. That I’d inspired them to get moving.
And then I started to felt a little less broken. I was back at the start. I knew what I wanted to achieve, who I wanted to be, the people I wanted to help.
So I’ve found a new course, a new teacher. I’m doing my homework, I’m practicing, I’m meditating. I can see my path.
I’m going to study and get qualified and help people find their bliss. I’m going to do it differently this time. I’m going to finish.
I am happy and calm and tingly.
I am not broken.
Yogis, have you ever experienced something like this? Share your stories below!