My lion-taming, long-term sub job not only paid the tuition to Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu, but it also enabled me to afford a private room with a private bathroom. (Yee-hah!) Because by this time I was 51 years old and the thought of living dorm-style with with a bunch of earnest, vegan, menstruating recent college grads gave me the heebs.
I could have done it for a week, (maybe) but never for a whole month.
My private room was awesome. It faced the forest. It had curtains. It was the place I ran to when things got really squirrely, (and man, did they ever get squirrely.) The training hours were long and hard, and there was relentless group work, and partner work, and every afternoon there was a “sharing circle” in which one person would take the wireless, hand-held mic, step into the middle of the circle of 65 people and proceed to have a full-out, full-on nervous breakdown.
At first these nervous breakdowns freaked me out, but by the last week, they were (*yawn*) predictable.
The teachers though, were nothing short of “Beyond-ananda.” There was a woman, Rashmi, who was like the sun. She walked into a room and lit it up. She was a big, full-hipped, smiley extrovert who had all of us laughing and at ease within the first five minutes of meeting her.
And then there was Yoganand, the Moon. A skinny, shy, soft-spoken introvert who intimidated the hell out of all of us with his intensity, his knowledge, as well as his sweetness and his compassion. I didn’t anticipate the intensity of this training. I didn’t expect to be brought to my edge every single day. I didn’t expect to be turned inside out. I didn’t expect to be transformed.
I signed up to learn more about yoga, and I wound up plumbing the depths of myself: my fears, my anxieties, my wisdom.
My “final exam” was a practice teach in front of outside observers: experienced yoga teachers and studio owners. These people were brought in to evaluate us at the end-point of our training. They didn’t know us. They had no idea what we had been through, how much we had improved since Week 1. All they could see was how how we were now, as we were about to go out into the world as yoga teachers.
I had to teach a full class, from Centering to Savasana with 5 postures, and 2 pranayams in between. The woman who was evaluating me was the owner of a big studio in Albany. All through my class she looked bored and non-plussed. I gave her an assist in Pigeon posture and covered her with a blanket in Savasana.
At the end, all my group members gave the requisite “positive feedback” and then it was time for my evaluator to say her piece. Here’s what she said:
I would travel a long way and pay good money to take a class with you. You are an inspired and an excellent teacher.
All my life I had been waiting for my “calling.” I had been waiting for some grown-up, some teacher, some authority figure to say, “You’re good at this. You should be a ____.”
And now, here it was. Validation. It was what I had suspected for a long time, but had thought I was too old, too inflexible, and too afraid to even explore. And now, here I was, against the advice of almost everyone who thought they knew me and had my best interests at heart.
I was a teacher of yoga. And even if I never taught another class after that, I now knew my dharma, my calling, my path.