Are You the Yoga Teacher?
While experiencing some heavy fatigue and a case of writers block, I decided to take a quick walk to clear my hectic mind and hopefully gather some inspiration. Destination? The local ice cream parlor. Yogis eat ice cream too, don’t be fooled. Today it was all about the toffee crunch and chocolate oreo, in a dish of course; I’m bad with cones, always have been. After paying and quickly taking a spoon to my snack, one of the ice cream shop employees said “Are you the yoga teacher?”
I’ll stop here and point something out: My partner Matt and I live in a tiny Vermont town. When I say small, I mean SMALL. Population 3,048 to be exact. The fact that a stranger would know that I am the local yoga teacher is not abnormal. However, it feels abnormal! I am always shocked and pleased when someone approaches me in the real world and inquires about my teaching. Especially considering I’m a new teacher that is also relatively new to the area. How did these people find out about me? Is the word really spreading? Did all of those posters I hung around town actually help? Is my website finally getting some action?
This wasn’t the first time something like this has happened… Lately it’s been a regular occurrence. The other morning, Matt and I were walking our dogs. It was early, so I was un-showered and still in my wrinkled pajamas. My hair was a chaotic mess. I was wearing large sunglasses in order to prevent people from seeing that I was actually a sleepwalking zombie. A woman in her car making a left hand turn leaned out of her window and screamed “Are you Nikki?” She immediately pulled into the nearest driveway, got out of her vehicle, and inquired about taking a class. I was so taken aback by the fact that I was recognized, I couldn’t help but start laughing once the exchange had finished. Thank god Matt was there to help collect a contact email address, as my foggy pre-coffee brain could hardly string a sentence together, let alone swap details.
Living and working in a small town lends itself to moments like this. It’s inevitable. There’s nothing strange about it. What makes such moments feel bizarre is the fact that people are calling me “The Yoga Teacher.” Yes, I teach yoga. Yes, I have a beautiful yoga studio in the heart of downtown Woodstock. Yes, I have many yogis that come to class with regularity. That said, I haven’t quite grown into the title that is automatically assumed by someone who teaches. I am a student, first and foremost. The title of “Student” feels comfortable, the title of “Teacher” feels foreign. Why is that?
I’ve been a yoga student for a very long time. Ten years. This longevity contributes to the deep comfort I have with my inherited “Student” title. The fact that I am such a new teacher leaves me nervous taking on a label that carries such weight and responsibility. I am learning how to teach on a daily basis; the progression is slow but sure. That said, I truly feel that I have a very long way to go before I am fully deserving of the “Teacher” monogram. My students, however, will beg to differ. They freely and enthusiastically refer to me as their teacher… What is it that my students see in me that I have yet to see myself? How long will it take for this lack of self confidence to subside? Do all teachers feel like this at the beginning?
Going from student to teacher is a big, scary transition. There’s no easy way to do it. You really just need to dive into the deep blue water and hope for the best. I imagine it’s natural to feel kinda clueless and unsure in the beginning. The best way to learn is to practice. So, that’s what I’m doing… Everyday, I invite people into our home and give to them the information that has been given to me. I mess up. I forget shit. I occasionally stutter over my words. Regardless, I keep practicing, in hopes that my lack of self confidence will eventually be replaced with genuine comfort in my knowledge and ability.
Time will tell. As days turn into months, and months into years, I hope to feel more deserving of the “Teacher” title. I will work diligently in order to become worthy of such a significant designation. In the mean time, I will accept where I am and work hard to honor everything that I have to offer. Even though I may not feel like a teacher quite yet, I am proud of my teaching, and I am humbled by the students that return to class again and again. Having the opportunity to share this ancient wisdom is a dream come true. And every time one of my students refers to me as their teacher, I will smile and say thank you. What a great compliment!
Moral of the story: When writers block presents itself, go get ice cream. Works every time.