Being Okay with Where You Are

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It's okay to be scared and not to feel okay. Being scared and not feeling okay means that you are about to do something very brave.

Marina Mukandala

Teaching yoga for me has always been a passion.

I have always felt that each of us is born and put on the planet with a gift – a special talent that we bring to and share with the world. I believe without a doubt that teaching yoga is my gift from God.

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Teaching for me has always been about more than teaching a physical practice. I see it as holding space for others – a skill that’s difficult to describe. It requires using your own energy, experience, and empathy to create a feeling of being safe, no matter what comes up; to create an environment in which people can come to move, breathe, and get in touch with themselves. It requires making sure that no one feels judged, and that if anyone feels vulnerable during their practice, they know that’s OK.

All of this space-creating and space-holding takes A LOT of energy. When I step into a group with a group of students to teach, I feel it’s my personal duty to be ready to help others into their practice; ready to give everything they can to create a sense of journey from the start of the class right up until the final moments. There’s no sitting and mindlessly staring out of the window.

When I teach a yoga class I feel it’s my duty to be there, present, in every moment. It’s a massive responsibility that reaches far deeper than saying “upward facing dog, downward facing dog.”

So what happens when I – the yoga teacher/leader are having a really tough time?

I was about halfway through teaching a class via Zoom a few weeks ago when I realized that I was there, but I wasn’t all there. I was in it, but didn’t feel fully present. I was saying all the words right and teaching a well-sequenced class, but I felt an emptiness that’s not usually there. And honestly just really blah.

Truth be told – things aren’t great for me at this time (as the studio moves into its 5th consecutive month of closure this month).

My first inclination was to apologize for not having much to give that morning via Zoom. But, I stopped myself and thought about how many times I’ve told students to, “practice from where you are today, meet yourself where you’re at today, feel what you’re feeling, not to compare this practice to any other and not judge yourself.”

Sometimes you’re having a bad practice or day or week or month or feeling the weight of the pandemic – and that’s okay. Even if you’re the leader and/or yoga teacher.

It’s really easy to get sucked into “the happiness trap.” The notion that we’re allowed to feel anything other than “really good, really happy, life is awesome” for about 0.2 seconds before it’s time to move on or start taking an anti-depressant (kidding but not really kidding).

In reality, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling up some times, down some times, just kind of blah sometimes or like a mess sometimes.

My hope and prayer are that students show up on their mats when they feel up, down, blah, or a mess and feel accepted, loved, and welcomed. That’s why I made the decision NOT to apologize for where I was that morning.

It is okay to feel what you are feeling and to be okay with where you are today (no matter where that is).

Sometimes, it feels like I have to be happy all the time and that I am responsible for everyone else’s happiness, but that is not the truth. The truth is sometimes I struggle and sometimes I need to take a step back and practice what I preach to others. I have to be okay with that and I am okay with that.

The same goes for you.

You have to be okay with where you are and at the same time know that where you are today isn’t where you will be forever. Knowing that nothing lasts forever is incredibly empowering and allows us to better tolerate times of stress.

So to all of you, I hope you’re okay with exactly where you are today. Whether you’re on cloud nine and feeling abundant joy, or wondering if life could get any worse, or just stuck somewhere in between. Wherever you are it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be – it’s real, it will inevitably change at some point, and you are learning and growing from it.

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