the om in me

As I mentioned last week, if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, I imagine I would be a yoga teacher, full-time. I started routinely practicing yoga in 2003. My best friend had been going to a beautiful studio in Germantown (a neighborhood in Philly right next to the one we’d grown up in) and invited me to come along. After that first class, I was hooked.

I’m not an athletic person. I’m naturally thin, and have long arms and long legs. All my life, people have asked if I run track or dance. I’ve tried both. Neither suited me. I just wasn’t fast, and although now I know that there are some structural issues with my spine, I didn’t play the part of the ballerina. I wasn’t naturally graceful. Just long and lanky.

From 2003 until 2005 I just practiced at this one studio. Being there felt like being at home. I’d go sometimes four days a week – I just loved being there. And the owners, a husband and wife team, who were also the teachers, were simply fantastic people.

My teacher was also a therapist, and with my history of depression, I started seeing her for yoga psychotherapy. She helped me move through a lot of things that happened in my past so that I could be in the present. Yoga, for me, was so much more than asana, or the postures. Because not only am I not athletic, I actually hate exercise. I wouldn’t still be doing yoga if it were exercise. For the first time in my life, at 22/23, I was starting to get a glimpse of what peace felt like.

I applied to law school in 2004, to be a part of the 2005 entering class. The job I was in was that – a job – and I wanted something more than that. Did I want to be a lawyer, at that time? I don’t know. I just wanted to do something else. I got in, and chose to go to Stanford. Then I got pregnant with Big A and everything changed. I deferred law school – even though I was not at all sure that in a year I was going to actually go (turns out I didn’t). I got married. And I had a major depression.

I got through it with the help of yoga and a bit of medication. And as soon as Big A was born, I decided I wanted to do the training. I wanted to do it with my teacher, in an apprentice format, just me and her. There was another woman who was doing the training too, but she was several months ahead of me. But it wasn’t one of those big factory-like trainings out there now. This was more like the traditional, teacher-student relationship.

I learned anatomy (though not as well as I should have), how to structure a class, tension v. compression, and yoga philosophy. After I’d gotten many hours in, I started to teach my own class. That’s when things fell apart.

I was pregnant with Little A. I was depressed. Big A got sick and was hospitalized for several days – I was traumatized. I’d cancel my class at the last minute, and the second time I did that, that was it. I knew I wasn’t ready to be a teacher, and my teacher did too.

At this time, I didn’t know I was bipolar. I took a break from the training, to get out of the depression. When I came out of the depression, I thought I wanted to finish up the training. My teacher asked me to write why I wanted to do the teacher training. I don’t know what got into me, but I did what I used to do a lot – got caught up in a lot of emotion and wrote the first thing that came to mind, like a free write and hit send. It was a whole piece about how I only wanted to do the training because I was jealous of the relationship my teacher had with the other trainee. In retrospect, I have no idea if that was true or not.

In any case, my teacher and I are still in contact, and I love her (and her husband) very much. They live out here now, on the West Coast, and I hope to get a chance to see this year. They’ve opened up a brand new studio in their new home.

I don’t think I will ever complete my training. I don’t want to be a yoga teacher anymore. I do want to have a teacher, someone to learn from, to follow, to help. I don’t want the responsibility of guiding others’ spiritual paths. I just want to better nurture and learn from, and find comfort in the OM in me.

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