I know as a student of this practice, I always had the idea or myth that yoga instructors had it all together. I mean, they always have something inspiring to say that makes me feel better when I get off my mat. Maybe they're pros at this whole control your emotions thing. Maybe they are so centered and aligned that any obstacle thrown at them gets lost in the abyss of the universe. Well now an instructor myself, I find that previous sentiment amusing.
The inevitable happened to me, just as I was about to teach my 7th class. I couldn't even make it to ten before letting my emotions and my life, get the better of me, but hey who's counting? There's no formal "number" in anything.
I had been having one of those rough days. I was feeling fearful of where my life currently is, how I got there, and the different directions and choices that led me to my current day. During my 20's I never really thought about how vital choices and decisions were in life. I made them, and I made them all the time. I would focus my energy in one direction and when I didn't want to focus on that anymore I shifted. I never really thought anything of it, other than I was accomplishing so many things and really getting my hands dirty in a lot of different opportunities. It seemed exciting, I had a ton of interests and I wanted to do them all.
And you know what? They were. They were exciting and my interests seemed never ending. I didn't look at it as a negative, in contrast it was all positive. Can you believe all the experience in many different things I have? That's what I would tell myself and others.
However, in that moment as I sat in my car 15 minutes before I had to be inside the studio, I was a wreck. There was nothing positive in my life choices, I was feeling a huge sense of regret. Why did I allow myself to shift course? Why wasn't there anyone to stop me? How could I have stopped me from myself?
While I was letting the tears fall down my face, and terrified that someone was going to see me, I was determined to prevail. If I'm not happy with my day job, how in the world can I let that affect the only thing I want to do? Teach yoga. (Side note: there's other things outside of teaching I want to do with yoga, but that's for another day.)
So newbie yoga teachers, I have some tips on when you are really feeling the blues, on how to regain your composure, walk into the studio with your head high, and hold space for others who need you to hold space for them.
1. Know What Sets You Off!
Are there things that are contributing to your dark feelings in the current moment? For me, I was on the phone with a certain loved one who allows me to unleash everything. That can be great, especially if you have time to let the floodgates go, but not for regaining composure. So for me, a simple "I love you but I must hang up the phone right now" was needed.
It sounds cliche but there's good reason for it, because it works. Once you've identified your triggers, take some deep breaths. Close your eyes, and count your breaths to focus on the moment at hand. How many breaths you need is completely up to you. Try to elongate each breath longer than the prior one, and give yourself time to get centered.
3. Kind Words Cultivate Kind Thoughts and Beliefs
In the meltdown moment, it's probably going to be hard to think of kind things. Regardless, have a few kind words or phrases about yourself ready in your back pocket. Maybe you like your eye color, or your taste in music. Maybe you love how strong and confident you are, even during the sad moments. Whatever it is, have one ready to go to repeat to yourself over and over. Try using the mantra: "I am powerful, I am strong, I am courageous."
4. Don't Be Afraid, Share Your Authentic You!
In classes that I teach I always like to have a theme. Even if I have a theme ready to go, what could be more authentic than what you were just going through? Your students want to know that they are not alone, so show them that yoga teachers are human too, and share what the silver lining is!
5. Give Yourself Credit
Life is tough, why make it harder on yourself? Give yourself credit for stepping outside your comfort zone, allowing yourself to feel your emotions, and embrace how far you've come. Maybe give yourself a smile or laugh (even if it's fake) in your rear view mirror. Laughter can be the best medicine!
So these tips are what worked for me and I hope by sharing my story, you too will use these techniques if you ever need them.
Til next time, Namaste yogis!