I never wanted to be a yoga teacher.
I never thought “yoga teacher” was something I could be.
I couldn’t be a yoga teacher for the same reason I couldn’t be a ballerina or a tightrope walker or a surgeon. It was too late, and I didn’t have the feet or the hands or the back for it.
I couldn’t kiss my knees in a standing forward fold, or drop into a backbend, or do a split, or stand on my head, or touch my sternum to the floor in a wide angle seated forward fold.
And it wasn’t that I couldn’t do these things yet, but in time and with practice I would eventually be able to do them. No. I would never be able to do some of these things.
(At this time I was in my late 40s, and although I was trim and fit and looked and felt much younger, I knew my body’s anatomical limitations, and that kind of stuff just wasn’t in the cards for me.)
And that was perfectly okay. I was going deep in this practice anyway. I almost lost track of my body entirely on some days, so that it really didn’t matter what I could do physically, because in some place in my mind, on some level, I could stand on my head. And was already standing on my head. And had always stood on my head.
My teachers, Reetha and Doris, could do amazing yoga tricks. None of the other students in class could do what they did. They could do the full expressions of all the postures they taught. It gave us students something to strive for, or at least something to talk about after class. “Did you see that back bend??? That was SICK!”
It was around this time that a woman I knew of, but really didn’t know, got certified to teach yoga at Kripalu and she was running classes out of the University gym.
So I went. And it was a revelation.
She was really soft-spoken, and she smiled a lot, and talked slowly and I eased into the postures under her guidance like I would ease into a warm bath. I noticed that unlike Doris and Reetha, Jenny didn’t do all the postures she taught. Sometimes she just gave really explicit directions. Sometimes she only went half-way into a pose and talked us through the rest of it.
Afterwards I talked to her about her experience at Kripalu. I had been there for a Rodney Yee program with Reetha and loved it. I told Jenny that when I was there, I so wished that I could do Yoga Teacher Training . I told her that I thought it would be so cool to be able to guide people into their bodies like that.
Jenny said, “Well, why don’t you?”
I said, “Because I can’t do half the postures.”
She said, “You don’t have to be able to do the postures yourself to teach them. You just have to know how to teach them.”
“Think about it,” she said, “can every basketball coach slam-dunk a basketball? Can every baseball coach hit the ball out of the park? No. But can they nurture that skill in bodies capable of those feats? Yes. And it’s the same with yoga postures. You don’t have to be able to do them yourself, you just need to be able to show people who can do them, how to, and more importantly, why to.”
And this opened Pandora’s Box.
This little conversation was a bomb dropped on my world.
(to be continued…)