About a year ago, I was nearing the end of my rope. I was holding on with all my strength, but my hands were slipping. I was starting to feel restless in a job that I had no passion for. This was complicated by the fact that I was surrounded by people who knew exactly what they wanted out of life and were well on their way to achieving it, and then there was me. Working a job that I had no interest in and not knowing where to go next. I was lost and scared. I couldn’t help but wonder… what was my purpose in life? After many tearful nights and exhausting conversations with my boyfriend, we decided to make a plan. He sat me down and asked me a simple question: “what do you love? What are you passionate about?” My immediate answer was yoga. I love yoga. Then his next question shifted something in me. “Why don’t you teach yoga?” How had I never thought of that before?
I immediately started researching yoga teacher trainings. My first thought was to go with my home studio, but I wanted to check out all of my options before making any decisions. It turned out, though, that my home studio actually looked to offer the best deal. And the training took place in a beautiful resort in a gorgeous little town on the coast of Mexico. I was familiar with the teachers, and after this intensified training program I would be “fully certified to teach” like the website said. What more could I ask for?
The saving and planning began. I started putting money away with every paycheck and as soon as I had enough money for the down payment, I pulled the trigger. This was HUGE for me. First of all, I had never been on a plane. This would be my first flight, my first time out of the country, and I would be spending a week with a bunch of strangers in a strange land. This was terrifying and exhilarating. I had always dreamed of traveling and doing things like this, but money and fear always stood in my way. I was (am?) someone who is scared of everything and who uses fear as an excuse to stop me from doing anything worthwhile in my life. Fear wasn’t going to get in my way this time, so when I hit “Submit” on my registration and downpayment for this teacher training, I was so proud of myself. Scared, yes. Excited, of course. But proud. So proud.
All the logistics were taken care of: passport, flight, tuition, supplies. All of it. I spent the next few months reading everything I could about yoga, taking notes, and practicing sequences. I was so prepared. And so ready. My fear was slowly transforming into excitement. The hard part was over. Now, all I had to do was show up and practice yoga, and that was something I could easily do.
Finally, the day before my training arrived. The fear was back in full force, but the overwhelming excitement coursing through my veins was enough to mute that fear. This was an enormous step for me and was basically going to be the beginning of everything. The plan was to slowly turn teaching yoga into a full-time career and then to eventually open my own studio. I wanted to create a safe place where people could move in ways that make them feel good, where everyone was welcome, “yoga body” or not. I wanted to create a community where kindness, compassion, and self-love are the main components. Bringing creativity and empathy into yoga and wellness is my passion, and this certification was going to jumpstart that career.
My flight went well (one big milestone down!) and then I arrived at the resort, and it felt like I had just arrived onto the doorstep of my future. This was it. I was about to change my life.
I wish I could explain how incredible this week was for me. I’m sure anyone who has gone to a yoga teacher training or a yoga retreat can understand. It’s life changing. I met people who I know will stay with me for a lifetime. We let ourselves be vulnerable and open in a way that was so foreign to me. The support was palpable. We became family. Quickly. The way these people let me be my authentic, true self and let me feel okay with it was something I will never forget. I am eternally grateful. And in terms of the yoga, I was so terrified that I would get there and realize that I was not great at teaching or worse that I would hate it. But neither of these turned out to be true. It was actually the opposite. I was great at it, and better yet, I felt surprisingly comfortable guiding a class through movement and breath. It was so fulfilling and came so much more natural than I expected. I felt on like I was on fire. I was making friends (which never came easily for me) who truly knew the me that I wanted to be, and I found something that truly made me feel good and made me feel as if I had a purpose. I could use this gift to help people. To help myself. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so lost.
And then something happened. It turned out that there was a misunderstanding, and I didn’t receive the full certification that I was expecting. I would have to attend a second training for the same amount of money (that took me forever to save the first time) in order to be fully certified and registered as a yoga instructor. Suddenly, my dream was unexpectedly put on hold until further notice. I felt tricked and betrayed and so, so foolish. I was completely thrown for a loop. My elation and excitement and fulfillment from the week had just been smashed into thousands of tiny little pieces. And it turns out, months later, I am still trying to put the pieces back together.
After I got home, I struggled to get back on my mat. Weirdly, it felt like I was angry with yoga. Like it was yoga that had betrayed me. The one thing that had given me purpose and that had made me feel truly good about myself was never supposed to make me feel this way. My heart was broken. That purpose that I had found in Mexico among some of the most amazing people I had ever met? It had faded and disappeared. That confidence that I found and the fire that was ignited in my soul? It had been put out. I felt more lost and scared and worthless than before. Please understand that I was and am still grateful for the experience. I would never trade the laughs, the friendships, the vulnerability, the beauty, the sweat, the tears, the memories that this trip had given me. But I couldn’t help thinking that maybe this was a sign that I had been wrong. Maybe this was a sign that teaching yoga was not my purpose.
Now that I’ve had time to reflect and meditate over this experience, I’ve learned a few things. Maybe that week was more about self-discovery than actually about the certification that I would take home. I know that I was meant to be in Mexico with that group of people at that exact time. I’m certain of it. But maybe the certification I was expecting would have just been the cherry on the top of the sundae. Maybe that feeling that I discovered while sipping ginger tea with my newly found sisters after hours of yoga and meditation… maybe that was the sundae. Maybe that rare, authentic, inspiring connection to others is the purpose I was supposed to leave with. Teaching yoga is certainly something that I want to pursue in my life, but maybe it’s not my only purpose. This week taught me how to connect with people without judgement. Without envy. How to inspire others with my dreams and let myself be inspired by theirs without a sense of competition. How to cultivate a genuine compassion for those around me and how to love myself and motivate others to practice self-love as well. How to face my fears and dive deeper into the dark, dusty corners of my soul that have been guarded by that fear for years. Maybe my purpose is to create a space for all of this inspiration and compassion to grow. A space for others to join me and sit with me in this soul fire. And I realized that the perfect place for this idea to grow is right here with me. On my yoga mat.
Even though I am still struggling with the aftermath of my broken heart and fighting to get out of the same job that I have no passion for, even struggling to get out of bed some days, I am beginning to see that light at the end of the tunnel. I am beginning to see that path that I am meant to follow and the pot of gold that awaits me at the end. So, Yoga, I forgive you. And I want to thank you for breaking my heart and for building me back up over and over again. I am forever grateful for the experiences for the feelings for the friendships for the purpose. Thank you.