“Yoga teacher training will change your life.” This is what the nice lady behind the counter of the yoga studio told me every time I asked about taking yoga teacher training.
At this, I always cocked my head to the side, squinted my eyes and thought, “Really? You know this? You, standing behind that counter in your stretchy pants know this about me?”
What was also disturbing to me at the time was that they never said how my life would change. What did they mean exactly? Drinking more tea? Being healthier? Giving away all my worldly possessions getting on a plane to India and spending the rest of my life in an ashram?
I had been taking yoga for many years. At first because I was seeking a, let’s face it, Madonna body. The Madonna body proved to be elusive, but I fell in love with the yoga. I loved how hard it was (I took mostly Asthanga), I loved how great I felt after a class. I even grew to love the “OM’s” and some of the chanting. But there was always something that seemed a little suspicious to me about the seemingly boundless happiness and calm of yoga teachers; like they’d lost touch with reality.
At the time, I thought reality was regular coffee-drinking in dingy cafes, reading depressing novels and a cynical outlook. Yoga teachers just seemed too happy to be normal. I thought they either must be faking it, or that once you went too far into yogic philosophy, you were brainwashed. And yet, every time I saw a sign to do yoga teacher training, a little part of me was drawn to it.
Fast-forward twelve years. Me in my mid-thirties. I’ve lived enough life to have been brought to my knees at times and to know that happiness is a precious and noble goal. I was taking time out, nurturing myself in search of a better way of living, and it seemed like the perfect time to do something like training to be a yoga teacher. If people who studied yogic philosophy were drinking the proverbial “kool-aid”, I was going to take a sip; that zen-like yoga-teacher calm seemed pretty good to me. And yet, I still worried about what an intensive immersion in all that is yoga would do to me. When people at the yoga studios said “yoga teacher training will change your life” I imagined myself completely altered, unrecognizable even to myself, maybe even brainwashed. I thought I might uproot my entire life, leaving my job, my friends and family, and this worried me. Although I respect another’s choice to join an ashram, that wasn’t my path. On the other hand, yoga had only ever had a positive influence on my life, and people I knew who had done teacher training didn’t seem to have suffered any adverse effects. This reassured me, and so it was that I tip-toed into my first teacher training class on a cold January day; full of excitement and apprehension.
In the end, the training did change my life, but more subtly and profoundly than I ever thought possible. I’m turning into one of those happy yoga people! I find my work far less stressful than I used to. I find I have more compassion for others. I am softer, kinder and more loving in my personal relationships. Instead of losing myself, I feel that I know myself better and love myself more. I have a sense of being more firmly anchored in my life. Of course, everything is a work in progress. I’m still learning and growing every day, but my outlook on life is so different now and the changes are for the better. I’m so grateful that I made the choice in the end to do the training.
Am I saying all this to plug yoga teacher training? No. I guess what I wanted to say is I’ve come to realize how much work happiness can take and how we can see it as simplistic and facile in our society, when it’s not. And this outlook can prevent us from doing what we really want to do, because we think we’ll look stupid or we’re afraid it’s “out of the box”. So I suppose this post is a little shout-out for the road less taken and for following and nurturing happiness, whatever form that may take for you.
P.S. We at Mother Sugar love and value your comments! I am going away on vacation for three weeks, though, so won’t be able to respond until I get back, but I promise I will!