The first time I found myself on a yoga mat was back in 2003. I walked upstairs to a narrow second-floor studio that sat above a pizza joint. The incense was burning, the lights were dimmed, the chatter was soft. The room was small with a few lace curtains over the windows, allowing some natural light to shine across the wood floor. It was wicked hot and I was the only guy in a sea of women. I was gripped with fear. Not the fear that comes with feeling like you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, just the paralyzing fear that I would fuck it up and “do it wrong.”
The moment we began, I completely zoned out, like you do when you’re daydreaming. I got lost in the sounds of our deep breathing, of the guiding voice, the music, even the boisterous blow of the heating element. It was blissful despite feeling like a bull in a china shop. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.
I don’t recollect what originally compelled me to try yoga. I think my story was that “my hips were tight and I needed to stretch?” Yeah right… as if any guy in their right mind steps into a sea of spandex and kooky music and pursues some form of ancient movement. Looking back on it, I was drawn to yoga for a reason - I needed to learn something.
Approximately 12 years passed and I continued to practice a lot of yoga. So much so that I reached a point of borderline boredom – and I still hadn’t given much thought to what yoga was teaching me. So I signed up for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training course. Six months of weekend sessions, workshops, journaling, and reading. We consumed a ton of books and held discussions about every aspect of yoga from how it all began, to the early Yogic pioneers, to the mind-body-spirit connections, and of course the poses and how to verbally lead them, as a teacher. Of course my story at the time was not that I aspired to be a yoga teacher but instead “I was just there to learn a bit more in hopes of re-igniting my interest in the practice.”
So here I am today, a few years post Teacher Training, and I am teaching yoga. And like any novice, I continue to get butterflies in my stomach before I teach a class. And this annoys me – because come on… how does someone who has been doing something for so long still get butterflies? So I’ve been thinking about their origin, why they come, when they arrive, how they pass?
Probably obvious to you, but alas I’ve figured out these butterflies I get when stepping up to teach have everything to do with “getting it right.”
This is not to suggest that 15 years of practicing yoga hasn’t completely corrected my own habit of self-doubt. That’s not humanly possible. But it has crystallized where the doubt rises up and how it can sabotage your own truth. In my case, I found yoga because I needed to learn that regardless of whether you’re a student or a teacher, there is no right way. There is no right pose, no proper technique, no instruction manual to follow. There’s only the act of doing. Time for me to teach.