Fear + 7 Minutes

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This past Mother’s Day, I had the incredible privilege of teaching an hour-long Yoga/Yoga Nidra practice to a group of amazing Mums at the Kids Cancer Care Mother’s Day Brunch. The journey to get to this moment brought back a remembrance of what brought me here in the first place.

It inspired me to look back to the moment that sparked my being where I am now. 

In March 2011, I took part in an incredible advanced teacher training program through Gaiatri Yoga. When I received an e-mail about this training a few months prior, my heart nearly stopped. I wasn’t a yoga teacher and had adamantly said that I wouldn’t ever be. The reasons were 3-fold at the time:

1) I loved my yoga practice far too much (still do) and hated the idea of ‘giving it up’ to be in my head/teaching brain whenever I hit my mat.

2) My Dad is a teacher (not yoga, though he could now!) and whenever ‘teaching’ came up, I pictured Dad tearing his hair out over poorly-written papers and saying ‘Never become a teacher!’

3) At the time, I managed a yoga studio and cringed at the idea of being the one who was consistently relied upon to sub at the last minute. I wasn’t even a teacher and I occasionally got asked to lead a sun salutation or two to buy time if a teacher was late, and that just made me want to barf.

Ok, so an ‘advanced teacher training’ hardly seemed like my fit.
But it was in Bali.
And it was with a teacher I admire immensely — my time spent with her on retreat in Morocco saw my heart and practice grow, and I was ready for a boost.

No matter what anybody said to try and deter me (“It’s so expensive!” “It’s so far away!”),  no matter how healthily fearful I was of the unknowns I may face there or how big of a hole it would leave in my bank account, I knew I needed to be there. So I jumped in with both feet, figuring I would worry about the financial part later, and made it clear that I was attending this training solely to grow my personal practice, with no intention of teaching whatsoever.

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Flash forward to March 23, 2011 in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia.

A sweaty, quiet young woman sits on the front porch of her little ‘house’ she is sharing for a week with a hilarious young man who wears primarily sarongs and speedos. This good-hearted guy has ordered the young woman a large glass of red wine paired the most delicious coconut chocolate pudding you can imagine, and left her alone to write. Flicking away the occasional bug and listening to the crickets, birds and jungle-y animals perform their nightly serenade, she writes:

“I taught today. For the very first time. We were instructed to teach a 7-minute sequence — 3 mins dharma talk, 4 mins teaching postures or a simple posture, and interweaving the theme, based on something we had recently worked through or was working through us. I picked “Peace.” It is still coming up. And though I am not here to find peace here, per se, I am here to cultivate it to take into my own life back home.

I was terrified when I was told I would be amongst the first ten to teach a section of the group. I told  Ally [Bogard] flat out that I was scared. She acknowledged my feelings: “I know. And this is why it will be so great for you.” She was so great & supportive, gave me a temporary out if it scared me to the point of vomiting, and said she had confidence in me. So…scared as I was, I mustered my courage and did it this afternoon.

7 minutes went quickly & I just went with what I could dig up. I talked about this concept of Peace, how it applies to daily life, shared an anecdote… Ally was holding a steady presence beside me at the front of the room. I could tell she was there to support me the second I needed it. Not too far in, Ally moved from the front of the ‘classroom’ with me back to her place further back on the couch. “You’ve got it,” she said. 

So it wasn’t much — getting them to breathe and ruminate on Peace in a restorative posture of their choice, shift to child’s pose and continue breath and imagery, then I gently brought them to a forward fold, and roll up to standing. That was 7 minutes. Done. When I finished, Ally said “How did that feel?”
I cried.
“Alright,” I said.
“Please tell me it felt just more than alright,” she smiled.
“Better than I thought,” I replied.
One of the girls said, “Did you say you’ve never taught [yoga] before?”
I shook my head.
“Not in this lifetime,” Ally said, “but many lifetimes before that. So what does this bring up for you?”
“A lot.” I couldn’t put it into words.
She smiled. “I have nothing for you. That was perfect. Thank you.”

I couldn’t say then where this moment would lead me. I have a greater idea now. More often than not, the idea of teaching still makes me want to barf, but I’ve learned to ‘trust the practice,’ follow my gut, and know that each time, it will get easier…and that all I need to do is start.

I can’t exactly say now where teaching will take me, or how the bigger picture looks… 

But I can say this: I never thought that a bit of fear & 7 minutes could change my life.

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