Just like that, the first leg of this adventure is over.
I miss you already.
All of you; all of it.
The second half of the teacher training went by far faster than was fair, so much so that there are half a dozen half-baked blog entries and ideas I can’t wait to write the rest of. I promise they’re coming; I haven’t fallen off the edge of the earth or into the ocean. At the end of the 12+ hour days, even in a heavenly place like Bali, something in my brain and body needed space, sustenance and sleep. So scribbled thoughts like this are what will be coming together in more coherent writing soon:
Almost every day, Catlin or I would look at one another and say something along the lines of “Can you believe this? We are going to be yoga teachers. We are here. Eoin Finn is our teacher. What is life?” And giddily giggle despite ourselves like a couple of schoolgirls who have a big crush on the universe. Of course, the aforementioned lengthy days of physical exertion combined with the very real, very deep personal work took its toll on every one of us at some point during the training. Down days were common and changes in the second half of training threw a bit of a wrench into our zen. Ten brand new faces joined us for the second half of our training, completing what they had started in Santa Cruz last year. The second half also brought another force of nature; our lead assistant, yogini/comedienne extraordinaire and no-nonsense knowledge powerhouse with a heart of pure gold. But following a week off of training, which had followed a 10-day bonding love-session between those of us here since April, change was…uncomfortable.
For me, I saw immediately that the ease of pace I had built within our Bali bubble was at risk if frustration and resistance to new structure caused me to shut down. What I’d spent my time in Bali doing was starting to be, to let go and flow. And I’d be damned if anyone was going to put me back to my human-doing-Maddie-hyperspeed.
Sidebar for go-with-the-flow evidence: The truest testament to the change I’ve experienced is in the fact that the majority of my trip I have neither been in possession of my credit card or passport. To extend my visa for Indonesia and avoid a lifetime ban for overstaying my welcome, I essentially handed over my most important personal document to a Balinese man and asked him nicely to bring it back to me several weeks in the future once it had been processed. This is actually extremely commonplace, and of course it worked out just fine, but if that isn’t a test of trust, I don’t know what is. I also had an ATM eat my credit card and had a locked debit card for most of this month. Both of these things required mini road trips into the city with my new best friend/driver Dedi and probably more time and money than I would have liked to spend on these types of adventure. But? No meltdowns. I barely batted a eyelash. Maybe it’s Bali, maybe it’s me, but for whatever reason, I am now in possession of the knowledge that I’m exactly where I need to be and that everything will truly work out. I’m suddenly a big believer in the universe and, not so suddenly, in Mama and Papa Q getting me through mostly anything.
The decision I made was to full-on-run right into the discomfort rippling through both myself and the group and see what this unfamiliar presence was all about. It was the best decision I made during the entire course. I was inspired by pure passion for teaching and sharing, humour and kindness. I also fell into a pretty huge girl-crush. Life lessons about balance and willingness to face things head-on were a recurring theme in the latter half of the training, especially when it came to teaching yoga. (It’s still pretty amazing to say or type that. Teaching. Yoga.)
As I’ve written about, the energetic and embodiment pieces of yoga have been my largest challenge (versus the technical alignment and cueing of poses, which I believe can be “brained” a little bit more, my comfort zone). The feedback I received in my initial teaching was overwhelmingly positive, but came with encouragement to take the next step into really feeling the cues and providing that feeling to who I instruct. Part of me knew this going in:
“Teaching yoga is going to change me and change my world. Change other people’s worlds. I cannot wait to start teaching. I think I actually might be good at this if I can go deeper and be more embodied because alignment comes more naturally. So terrifying, I don’t know if I can get there.” – Journal tidbit
So when it came time to split up our final class to be taught to the public, there were 3 of the 20 parts I knew would feel like being thrown into the middle of the ocean without a buoy or big floaty beginner’s surfboard: the initial class grounding, the savasana meditation, or the closing of the group. And in my first ever publicly-taught yoga class? I’d be leading people in their savasana.
“But, Maddie, savasana is just laying there. How do you teach that?”
Despite all my facing-fear-with-loveness lately, leading people in their most vulnerable moments at the end of their practice with something that would hopefully stay with them felt overwhelming. But it was exactly what I needed as my final gulp from the firehose of 200 hours of learning. Initially I wrote notes, I read them over, I had others read them. I googled “how to guide savasana”. I thought about it. I thought about it.
But when it came time for our class, beaming with pride and feeling of unity with each of the other new teachers’ pieces of the practice, I stopped thinking. I started feeling. I saw my life’s mission ribbon hanging on the wall of the shala (upside-down of course, as I was in downward dog at the time) – “to reflect the embodiment of enoughness”. And I knew how I wanted the class to feel when they left. After settling myself at the front of the room, legs crossed, hands on heart, with a slow, oh-god-hopefully-not-shaky voice, I spoke to a room full of yogis who had peacefully come into their final pose of practice, their minds and hearts at their most open. And I don’t remember everything I said, but the words came, and it was a game changer for me; something shifted in that space.
I’m a yoga teacher. And I will say that I have done some challenging things leading up to this milestone. University had its moments, my CFA charter was my most mentally taxing endeavour, but bar-none, the proudest I have ever been of myself was accomplishing this.
If you’ve seen any pictures from my trip so far, you’ll recognize a blonde beam of light with a contagious smile and palpable spirit. Lyndal asked me as she packed to go home what my three largest gratitudes from our month in Bali were:
1) seeing the pieces coming together of who I am when I let myself be. Pieces I actually really like.
2) the stories and sharing of women (and men) who despite being so different, all show me that we are more similar
3) the realization of the work I know I still need to do in myself
I have counted myself lucky to start this journey in the arms of the love of so many people. It makes me even braver to break out on my own for 2 more months. I’ve had a hand to hold when I needed it, a shoulder or chest to cry into. But I’ve also been released by those who knew all along what I was capable of. And I am changed.
I’m a yoga teacher.
But I’m the one who is learning.