When I started teaching yoga, I was in a place where I would say: this is something cool that I can do to inspire people. I felt inspired by my own story, thinking I could share this practice with other people and help them in the same way this practice helped me.
Now from the place of this is cool to show up, own my story, and use my authentic voice was a long road.
My intention was good, but what was going at the moment was challenging.
I was so excited about teaching yoga, but with 10-min before my class started, I prayed that nobody would show up. Every time I entered the room to teach, I would make myself small. My eyes were set on the watch rather than on my students. I was constantly thinking about what cool words I heard other teachers say. I was trying so hard to be someone else until I was exhausted.
I was afraid of leaving my dream.
I was afraid of sharing what I knew.
I was afraid of disappointing people.
I was afraid of letting people see me.
I was scared of failure, and I hadn’t even begun.
What happens when you’re afraid is that you make everything about yourself. Fear takes over, and you’re not able to see anything else (the people, the how, the what) above yourself.
That was not the place I wanted to be, but I was trapped, and it controlled me.
It bothered me.
Feel awkward. It will serve you well.
What I did was take another training, thinking that I would be ready after that one. It was the third training I was taking. Just saying.
Now, the training I took was good. I’m happy I did it. But the good doesn’t come from what I thought I needed – more knowledge. It went from a simple exercise we did, and it took me through new realms of discovering myself.
We were more than 100 people in training, and for the exercise, we were split into groups of 10. It was about showing up in front of your group and singing a lullaby song and making it funny. Well, I’m Romanian, and I don’t remember any lullaby songs, and at least none was sung to me as a child.
Panic. I froze. I cannot let people see me so vulnerable.
My turn came. I said NO. The facilitator gave me a pass for a while, but I knew she would not leave me alone.
My turn came back. I’ve been invited to sing Romanian happy birthday, and I said NO (face palm). My excuse was that it was a communist song and was the last reason I had in my pocket.
The exercise was very interesting and we had fun, but I couldn’t do it. I never thought that I had such an enormous resistance towards something new.
Fast forward, I ended up singing happy birthday (the American version) but with the help of everyone in my group and the rest of the groups were looking at us.
It ended up making me even more uncomfortable than just doing it the first time. And on top of that, after we ended the exercise, everyone congratulated me on my birthday (it was not).
I cannot express in words how embarrassed I felt.
You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.
A new me was emerging.
What happened when I returned home was incredible.
I remember the first class I taught. I entered the room, feeling my feet on the ground and ready to share what I knew. I was able to see my students, and the most incredible part was that I was not anymore in my head. It was like all the things I have learned in the last years came to me precisely when I needed them. I was not looking anymore for something in my mind to sound and look good. Even though I could still feel the presence of that old me saying to me: hey, Alexandra, this is new to us, what are you doing? – it had no power anymore over me.
Teaching yoga and being connected to the room is an amazing feeling. For the first time in my teaching experience, I was commanding the room, and I was not making myself small anymore – I was free.
All it took was to step out of my comfort zone, feel awkward and embarrassed, actually to feel the way I wanted to feel. Based on my personal experience, most of my proud achievements started with leaving my comfort zone.
If I can go out into the world and let other people see me when I’m doing something that makes me feel silly, I can handle anything because I will have made myself more resilient to the noise.
There’s something so freeing about doing you, being you, and not even worrying about anyone else’s opinion.
I would have defined this experience as a failure in the past. On the way, I have learned that failure becomes integral to the journey.
If there is something I’m encouraging you to try is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you’re on the path of discovering yourself, you’ll never know what is on the other side because you’ve never been there.