I was all but certain I would complete a full class last night: The only thing that could have stopped me was myself, and lately I’ve been careful to keep out of my own way.
So I wasn’t really surprised to be ringing the Tibetan singing bowl at the end of class. But I was thoroughly perplexed by my reaction: Whoop. De. Doo.
Where was my elation, my thrill, my joy? My sense of achievement and accomplishment? I did my best to summon up a sense of triumph, but really, the experience felt anticlimatic.
The thing is, as I led class last night, my mentor teacher was live coaching me. She’d beckon me to the back of the room while the class was going through a flow and give me up-to-the-moment feedback on my performance. Her guidance was spot-on, but it was unnerving to be told how to change what I was doing as I was doing it. I’m glad she didn’t just let me hack it till the end, because I think I made improvements along the way, but I nonetheless brought class to a close with a sharp awareness of how far I still have to go in my journey.
Which is to say, I may have finished teaching a class, but I’m nowhere near finished becoming a teacher.
And that is fine. That is better than fine, it is glorious! What a letdown it would be if there was nowhere to go from here, if checking the box of “class completion” meant game over. Because I love this yoga game; I want to play forever! And still, somewhere in the last ten weeks, I got caught up in the short-term pressures of meeting arbitrary deadlines–the furthest you can get from forever.
So it makes sense that I felt disillusioned last night–and thank goodness, because my goal was exactly that, an illusion. A false understanding of what I truly desire. I don’t actually care about checking boxes, I care about making connections. And while I accomplished the former, I have not yet succeeded in doing the latter. I’m still distanced from my students, still taking on the role of “yoga teacher” rather than being in the room as an equal, as a fellow explorer who just so happens to be speaking.
And that’s okay. I have faith in my future, and my next steps are clear. It’s just that it’s a little disorienting to cross the finish line of a 5K only to immediately realize you’ve started a marathon.
But I’m being kind and patient with myself, allowing my feelings to be what they are while still gently making room for a sense of pride and satisfaction. I’ve worked hard and done well, and after one more round of testing and critique, I will be a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher–no small feat!
When I started this program, I thought getting certified was the point. My eye was on a prize that doesn’t exist. Now I’m humbled and grateful to understand that my program’s ending is just the beginning: Training was a time of planting seeds, and I have a whole lifetime left to grow and give.
So while, sure, I’ll be wholeheartedly and enthusiastically celebrating my graduation(!) on Saturday, what I’ll really be honoring is the potential of what’s to come. Hip hip hooray for that!