Today was our fourth yoga teacher training “practice teach”, our last here at Kripalu. We were each given 60 minutes and free reign to design a class using a theme, opening and closing centerings, various breathing techniques, warm-up sequences, the 21+ postures we’ve explored inside and out, and a final relaxation. It felt delicious and empowering to harness the weeks of information we’d thirstily lapped up and funnel it all through the vessels of our own experience, affording us each the ability to share the practice of yoga as we interpret, feel, and breathe it.
The day was divided into four sections, during which each member of a 4-person sub-group of the entire YTT program led his or her class in a little pocket of the large, bustling room, trying our best to tune out the roar of activity from the 10 concurrent classes, some mere inches from our own mats. The focus, stamina, support, and love in the room was palpable.
I was in the second round of teachers, and after my class and subsequent meeting with my mentor I tiptoed out into the hallway, limp with relief. I thought my hour had gone fairly smoothly — I had hit most of my breath and movement cues, woven a nice theme throughout the practice, come up with some creative synonyms for “turn” and “press”, and was particularly delighted to observe that one of my students had seemingly conked out in the final relaxation — a sign of a thorough class, in my opinion! — and yet I had just spent the past half hour relentlessly badgering my mentor to poke holes in what I had just delivered, practically begging her to say something mean so that I could gather new material to obsessively study and incorporate.
As I walked the few steps towards the bathroom, I overheard someone ask one of the other girls who had taught in the second session how her class had gone. “I felt amazing,” she replied breathlessly.
I had a knee-jerk reaction: “That was kind of cocky.” Then I paused, as we’ve been invited to do so many times over the course of this training. Pause. Breathe. Reflect. Feel. Watch. Allow.
I took a deep inhale. As I let the breath go, I realized how judgmental my reaction was, and worse still, how conditioned I had become to assume that expressing pride and joy after sharing one’s art is unwelcome, untrue, or in poor taste. I felt guilty, and then a little bit heartbroken. I watched as years of performances, mine and others’, floated by in my mind’s eye. Had I ever once, I wondered as I approached the bathroom door, walked offstage and proclaimed, “I felt amazing”? And even if I had actually felt amazing, had I ever allowed myself to speak the words out loud to another human being or even to an empty room? Had I ever heard any one of my colleagues, my dear friends, even my partner express that level of pure, unadulterated elation at what they had just accomplished? I hadn’t.
Sure, there are always “potential improvement points” (or “PIPs” — adorable, right!?) to be explored after any performance, yoga class, or other guided experience. There are always nits to pick, bits that don’t go according to plan, external factors that alter the ebb and flow of the melody. But if we’re sharing what we love with others, why SHOULDN’T we feel amazing doing so? And furthermore, why shouldn’t we tell others about it — especially if they ask?
Humility is a beautiful trait, and a necessary ingredient in the recipe for growth. But so is pride, so is relief, so is inner strength, so is joy.
I felt amazing today. I WAS amazing today. We all were. I am so grateful to be learning not just how to teach yoga, but how to live yoga.