I never thought I would become a yoga teacher
I hated public speaking, I was always shy and never felt comfortable being in front of an audience. I even once tried to sabotage my own cello recital by detuning the entire instrument in the hopes that it would allow me to skip the performance. My young mind forgot that instruments can be re-tuned.
In my early twenties I joined a yoga teacher training program at an East Village studio near the office that I worked. I had no intentions of teaching yoga or becoming a yoga teacher but after a few coincidental encounters I felt like it was the universe pointing me in the direction of the training. I enjoyed yoga and wanted to learn more about it. I was introduced to the philosophy of yoga, I learned anatomy and what was happening to my body as a I moved. I also had opportunities to take part of breathing workshops and sweat lodges that I would never have experienced otherwise.
All of this was great but the most profound thing that I learned was that I was able to overcome my fear. The fear of public speaking. In fact, I now enjoy it, ok that might be a stretch, but I am much more comfortable with it. As part of the training we practiced speaking and teaching the yoga poses and leading a class. I could barely get the words out and I fidgeted the entire time. One of the teachers came over and placed her feet over mine to keep me from shifting back and forth. It was not a pleasant experience, but I survived. At the end of the training we had to teach an actual class. I was so nervous and spoke so slowly that the teacher supervising ended up taking over halfway through so that the class would finish on time. I kept practicing. I lived in the Bronx at the time so I would skateboard across town to the Hudson river and skateboard uptown while I practiced speaking and instructing an imaginary yoga class in my head. I was given a second chance to teach a full class. This time I was in the big room, a classroom full of people. Even with all of the practice and hours or rehearsing my stomach was in knots and I had butterflies not only in my stomach but they threatened to flutter right out of my chest and from my mouth.
I began, the words came out of my mouth. I started off the sequence in a child's pose and the rest is history. I was able to clearly instruct and was able to keep pace. I was floating, I was so high at the end of class I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was instantly hooked. I had overcome my fear of speaking in front of an audience, I no longer had to despise public speaking. This transformation was not what I had planned. I wanted to learn about yoga, I wanted to deepen my practice, but what I found was a profound moment of growth and personal evolution.
10+ years later and I still get nervous in groups and before I teach. Speaking to and in front of people will never be my strong suit but I know that I can and I do.