Lessons of a Yoga Teacher - Trust the Process
Every time I step into the room as a yoga teacher, I learn something new about myself or others. It’s been an incredible exploration and I’ve learned that the process of discovery will never end.
One of the first lessons I've learned:
trust the process.
I’ve always been the kind of person who reads the end of a book before starting, just so I don’t have to wait until the end to find out. I love movie and TV show spoilers (a trait that my boyfriend does not share). I like knowing how things end. I tend to not even start a project until I’m absolutely sure of what the outcome will be. Rather than trusting the process, most of the time, I want to know exactly how something is going to go. This mistrusting of the universe only creates more resistance, confusion, and frustration in my life.
When my mom set out to live in Dubai last summer, she left me with one piece of advice: trust the process. She was leaving the country with barely any logistics in place, besides her one-way ticket and a place to stay the first couple of nights. Seeing her walk away into the unknown with confidence that whatever was to come her way she could handle, inspired me to shift my attention to where I could do the same in my life.
Her departure happened to be right before I had my audition to teach at my yoga studio, BIG, and couldn’t have been more fitting for me at the time. I was struggling to find my voice as a yoga teacher, and found that my ego wanted to have it all figured out right then. I wanted to bypass the learning curve of messing up, and jump to the end where I was already established and 100% confident. Watching my mom go off into the unknown helped to bring my awareness to this lesson in terms of my yoga journey. I realized I too, needed to walk into the unknown and trust the process that my yoga journey was taking me through – go to that audition and either passing it or not. I had to do it in order to find out how it would unfold and simply be in the experience. The end of the book or the movie was not yet written / produced and my desire to see what would happen next was bigger than my fear of going into unknown territory. Although my audition turned out the way I had hoped, going in, I had to release my attachment to any certain outcome and let go of my fear, which was tremendous, terrifying, and most of all, very real. Taking action despite my struggle, jumping in and taking that step into auditioning was so out of my comfort zone.
In fact, my yoga journey
has been full of obstacles which have required me to take actions that push me out of my comfort zone.
I began to learn this lesson about being in the process when I first signed up for yoga teacher training. At first, I didn’t know what to expect, let alone if I even wanted to teach. All I knew was that I wanted to be transformed in the way I saw many teachers before me come out of teacher training. This was my first taste of jumping into something without the slightest clue of how it was going to turn out. Every day of teacher training was transformation, and I reminded myself of this experience as I went into my teacher audition, and I continue to remind myself whenever I feel afraid.
I remind myself of this also whenever I see it happen in classes that I teach, as well as classes where I am a student – we get frustrated when we fall out of a pose, tension pulls together in our faces when we are concentrating so hard on getting the pose right, for example. This is the opposite of trusting the process; this is pushing and forcing. As I struggle with this difference, I have found that trusting requires listening and surrendering and this is both easier and so much more rewarding than pushing and forcing. In this process, my body becomes free to express itself more authentically. We do not need to have the fullest expression of the pose in order to receive the benefits of it; and in receiving the benefits, the body learns that it can handle whatever comes its way.
As a student, I have accepted
my practice will look different from one day to the next, even one breath to the next.
Trusting the process means being fully connected to my body in each moment, and as I stay with the process, I begin to realize that my yoga journey never has a specific “end.” Existing from this space allows me to experience total freedom when it comes to my practice – I have the opportunity to experiment with new poses, get creative with my flows, and appreciate the mind-body connection.
Yoga has taught me that anything worth having/achieving takes work and requires moving through any resistances that may come up. It’s never going to be easy or given to you – acknowledging the difficult times and learning to move forward despite the resistance around not knowing how it ends is what makes you truly great. Specifically as a teacher, I’m discovering how to teach from where I am in the process right now. The part of my yoga teaching journey that makes me uncomfortable, or causes some resistance, is the feeling of vulnerability – that my students will think I’m a fraud. In the process, I could choose to react in fear. And though, when I choose to respond from a place of listening, surrendering, and being vulnerable, I create connection, grounding, and presence.