<<<Note: Ok, so this officially makes me a lazy, terrible blogger. I wrote the contents of this post in a Word document while sitting in the Istanbul airport on a layover back from Bodrum. That was November 4th!! We’ve even been on another short weekend trip between now and then! Ah well, good thing this is my blog and I can do whatever I want! Bear with me… 🙂 >>>
After three weeks of being in the studio for five hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon, I’m now sitting in a Starbucks in the Istanbul airport (well, not at the exact time that this will be posted, since I can’t figure out how to sign into the internet, but anyways…) on my laptop surrounded by a bunch of other travelers also on their laptops. I’m likely the only one, though, who’s scrolling through photo after photo of modification after modification of yoga pose after yoga pose. I also have a certificate of completion for a 200-hour yoga teacher’s training tucked safely in my computer sleeve—one that allows me to register with the Yoga Alliance as a RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) 200.
I’ve been pondering over why I’m so particularly excited by this simple document. I already have two higher education diplomas to my name, one for my Bachelor’s and another for my Master’s. For some reason, though, I have to admit that I feel more of something about this little certificate and soon-to-be new title than I ever have about either of my degrees. I feel odd to admit this sense of…vindication? Of rightness? Of taking yet another step towards finally throwing off that smothering mantle of academia that first descended over me of its own accord during my teens, one that valued the mind but not the body. Now, though, I have a piece of paper that proves the work that I’ve put in—through ten years of personal yoga practice leading up to this three weeks of teacher training—to untangle assumptions and extract myself from my own head.
Throughout the training, I was always itching to keep moving. Building momentum energized me and kept me going throughout the long days. Some mornings we did a good hour/hour-and-a-half class to warm up before the stop-and-go of working through poses in detail. On those days I had the most focus and endurance. Other days, our mornings began with student teaching followed by discussion and feedback. While, of course this all had to be worked in, I had to push a bit harder to get through those days. As yoga is meant to do, the working of my muscles, the heat built, and the immediate need to concentrate on my alignment never fail to quiet my ever-buzzing mind. I love that—I need that.
As a thoughtful but horribly anxious child, I never would have predicted how much better my life would be once I gained the ability to let my body take over sometimes. As I transitioned from high school to college and then to graduate school, I became increasingly aware of my need to quiet my thoughts through movement and activity, and I gradually gave greater and greater priority to dance and yoga and music. In turn, I found that I had waning patience for the chronic and circular philosophizing about music that defined my post-graduate academic discipline. And yet… I tried to suck up my many frustrations and slog through it. After all, it wasn’t like I couldn’t bullshit and obfuscate and be obdurate with the best of them if I needed to. However, “the best of them” loved the theorizing and the endless, circular debates, while I always watched the clock during our rambling seminars. I began to realize that without that passion, I’d never find the motivation to complete a dissertation, much less write the articles and attend the conferences necessary to make me competitive for jobs. Still, I was scared to leave the world of academia when I did (cutting and running with my MA rather than a PhD) because it was something that I was good at. After all, having a career just means finding something you can do and then doing it, right? And, even though I took as many dance classes as a history major could take throughout my undergraduate years, and even though my dance-teaching wages later provided much-needed and significant supplements to my graduate student stipend, I had difficulty entertaining the thought that I, Mimi, could be someone who moves for a living.
After spending nearly the past two years in a job that could hardly be more stationary, my concentration and patience all but disappeared. It started to become apparent that all day in a chair, sitting quietly in front of a computer does not, in fact, bring out the best in me. Far from it. Even though my work required the use of my mind and eyes only, I swear that I felt my brain atrophying as each day went on. I looked at Want Ads every day. Every day I wanted to turn in my resignation, but I was afraid to take the plunge into cold water and shock my body back to life. Even though I have many friends with cleverly patch-worked careers, I still feared that I would never be able to pull off something that cool.
BUT, now I’m in Turkey. Now I will be relocating every two years for the next eleven. Suddenly, a nine-to-five office job is not only nearly impossible to find, it’s also nearly impossible to build any sort of forward momentum in most fields… except… As a yoga teacher, experience is experience, whether it’s been with one studio, gym, or fitness center or another. Yoga is portable, it’s impact expandable and its popularity and recognized functions are growing every day. These last three weeks have been most especially invaluable because they illuminated the depth of possibility that exists within yoga instruction. With the right attitude, it is not just a hobby or the opportunity to make pocket change. It can be a life’s work that improves the lives of others. While this long ramble might truly leave you, readers, thinking that I really am quite certifiable, the piece of parchment resting in my backpack gives me the go-ahead to keep moving forward.