Perfection, Pain, and Becoming a Yoga Teacher

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Hi Friends!

Sharing this super-inspiring story from a friend in Rome

Three years ago I was a CPA in Italy. I was one of the youngest girls in the country to work with listed companies (I got my bar at 28), working crazy hours, commuting 2,5 hours a day, and studying for my bar. I had a practice in meditation for 7 years but I wanted to do some exercise too, so I started searching videos on YouTube, zumba, fit box, dance, you name it. I would do them each about 5 times and then quit.

Until one day I found Tara’s video, I think it was yoga for flexibility. When I started, I remember I couldn’t touch my toes, and whenever I did down dog split I needed to be careful because my neck hurt, but I didn’t care. It was so good and I loved it. I never intended to have a yoga practice – all that talking about chakras, alignment, and chanting? No thank you. But I did yoga every day, maybe 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there.

This bliss continued for a year, more or less. I caught only one cold, didn’t grind my teeth, my boyfriend started to do yoga with me, my friends too. Then I opened an Instagram account, and thought that it would be nice to start to share with people how great yoga was, and you didn’t even need to stay still, you could move around a bit. Plus I realized I didn’t want to be successful but happy. My quest for changing my job began, until I found one with a heart.

 

After a while I started thinking if I wanted to teach yoga
I needed to be somehow perfect myself.
I needed to know more.

All that I was doing so far was having fun.
That wasn’t enough, plus on Instagram
everybody was more advanced.

 

I couldn’t touch my head with my toes in scorpion, nor pressing, I was so behind! (Btw, I still can’t but who cares.) So I started reading all the books in the world about yoga, alignment, did a teacher training, and went to take yoga lessons with one of the best teachers in Rome for 50 euros a lesson.

She diagnosed me with “poor alignment,” my posture was a mess, my down dog the same, and my warriors, she would say “You have to align your heel to your heel.” I would respond “But I feel a bit of pain in my knees,” and she replied “Well it is in the spiral of the legs, this is the way, you’ll get used to it.” And also, my belly was too protruding and soft, so I started to use bandhas, and it was torture.

 

If I wanted to be a good yoga teacher this was the price.
I started to hate my poor posture, my soft middle,
and myself in general for being soooo lazy.

 

I had read enough of functional alignment to know we are all so different, and that cuing someone rigidly is a dangerous thing. I would never ever do this to my students, I didn’t have x-ray sight to see if one had an elevated hip, or the angle of the femur to know if he could or could not do a lotus. Plus I am not a doctor, or PT, and as much as I like to read about anatomy, I am not qualified to diagnose and interfere with anyone. But still I thought that I had to be picture perfect. It is funny how hard we are on ourselves.

 

Fast forward to now:
I have a blocked shoulder, pain in my knees (luckily it appears I haven’t done too much harm), but hey!
I can touch my knees with my head in forward fold,
so I am a good yoga teacher, right?!

 

The rock bottom came when my PT advised me to do yoga only twice each week, and jog instead (jogging actually helped my knees). When I heard this I started thinking again about my yoga practice – how much I needed to improve, and how my body was holding me back. There must have been something wrong with my alignment AGAIN.

 

Then it hit me. Who cares about perfectly-aligned
down dog, perfectly-squared hips in warrior,
and all the tension from bandhas.

I started to modify and discovered again the joy of moving
just because I have a body, ditching king pigeon,
and in down dog bending my knees.

Right at that time a lot of poses that were super-hard
started to come more easily, but that’s only one small bonus.

Problem was, slowing down I began to feel, and it wasn’t always pretty. I started to pause in my flows, accepting whatever feeling would come up, instead of pushing through the end of the flow. The most important thing was surfing the giant waves of my feelings. I started to notice that no yoga teacher I know allows you to stop drop and feel. Really feel how you are feeling. But I didn’t care, I run from my feelings all my life. Now it was time to stop. Who cares if I do one pose or 20. The important thing was feeling and accepting.

At the same time of my realization, a lot of people asked me to teach, and for the first time I accepted money for teaching.

 

Guiding others through yoga made me realize how much pressure I put into myself to be “perfect”
in the yoga challenges (this is so pointless),
and to reach an ideal posture.

I would never, ever do this to my students.
Why do I need to do this to myself?

 

My students started to be happy with the intuitive yoga I taught them (sometimes during the practice I let them choose what to do next and they loved it). They reported to me that they healed this or that, were accepting themselves more, and noticed they have feelings for the first time. They even found their feelings didn’t actually kill them, but would flow out of them.

 

Then Guiding Strala came out,
and everything I knew started to make sense again.

Everything I knew inside
was written down in that digital copy.

 

I was about to enroll in a teacher training program in Rome. I have my training with a PT and a yoga teacher, but thought I wanted a Yoga Alliance one. But, seeing the program was all about the philosophy and “perfect” alignment, and the text was “Light on Yoga” – a manifesto of “it must be done this way” – I changed.

Looking back I feel a bit foolish to let something like appearances get to me this way, and when my knees hurt a bit I am ashamed of the harm I have done. But on the other hand, I’ve learned to be not so hard on myself now.

 

I know first-hand what it means
to get away from your path to follow others’ ideas.

I have proof now that I MUST FOLLOW MY INTUITION.

 

Probably without experiencing pain from wrong choices I wouldn’t have learned, who knows. I am lucky to be wise enough to realize I was doing much more harm than good. And that a bit of knee pain put me on the right track again.

Thank you for your work,

– TV, Rome

 

About Strala Yoga Training

Strala combines the movement and healing wisdom of tai chi with the form vocabularies of yoga, tai chi, qigong, and Traditional Chinese and Japanese Medicine, to help people release stress, move easily through challenge, and live radiantly inspiring lives.

It begins with a mindset, that says our best way to get where we’re going is to feel good along the way. It also works miracles for whole health, helping us to find ease in our bodies and minds, and create the right conditions both for healing and optimal performance.

In our Strala Training Courses, you learn to shape your destiny on every level that counts, from your psychology, chemistry and neurology, to your chromosomes and even gene expression. The unique set of skills you develop – for connecting with yourself and others, unblocking your energy, healing what needs healing and accomplishing challenge with ease – uncovers your ability to create the life you want, and be an inspiring leader to the people around you.

Who’s What’s and When’s of Strala Yoga Training

 

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