Learning to Love

I learned a lot during yoga teacher training. Ok, that’s actually an understatement. I learned A TON. It was one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had, and I mean that in the best way possible.

One of the first things I learned? Don’t start a blog right before starting teacher training – you just won’t have time to keep up with it. Obviously, as I haven’t updated it since week 1. That’s ok though. This blog is a learning process for me so at least I got a good lesson out of it, right?

Anyway, I decided that I probably need to spend more than one blog post writing about what I learned because there’s honestly so much that I got out of teacher training. Otherwise, this post will turn into a novel and no one wants to read a novel-length blog post.

I’ll start with the personal stuff. I had NO idea going into yoga teacher training that I’d learn so much about who I am and what I want and what I need in order to be happy and fulfilled. Seriously. No idea. I figured I’d go into teacher training and learn a heck of a lot about yoga and that’d be it. Some history, some anatomy, lots of poses and adjustments. But I probably learned most about myself during the process. It has changed me more than I knew was possible, and that’s no exaggeration.

Here’s an example: Throughout most of my school life, I worried A LOT about what people thought of me and whether they wanted to be my friend. I’d do ANYTHING to be the person they wanted me to be, which often meant I gave up parts of myself in order to be something different. Pair that with some good old Generalized Anxiety Disorder and you can imagine I wasn’t really all that happy. Things that were ok for other people killed me. No response to a text message? Ugh. I was pretty sure I’d die right then and there. Until I got a text back, and then I was fine. Until I opened the text and didn’t see the appropriate number of exclamation points. And then I worried again. A seriously vicious cycle.

After college, I started to find ways to be more productive, mostly because I had an awesome therapist for awhile who really helped me see where my own changes could yield a happier life overall. But I still worried about people liking me. In my job as a teacher, I wanted everyone to like me and that doesn’t always work well. I was ok dealing with students, but I’m sure I could have been better for them if I had worried a little less about whether they liked me. It was with colleagues where I really struggled. I seriously NEEDED their approval. As in I’d cry in my car if I felt like people didn’t like me. That happened a lot.  And if I didn’t get the approval I thought was coming? Well, I’d almost demand verbal confirmation that I was ok and they liked me and the world was all puppies and rainbows. That doesn’t exactly make it easy to form lasting, strong, solid friendships. As a matter of fact, it was downright destructive. Imagine that.

So it took me some time to make really good friends. Eventually, I did though. And some of those friends from that high school are still my best friends. After moving to Colorado in July, I finally made a trip back to Indy and saw some of those people. I knew we were still close, but when life gets busy, keeping in touch can be hard. Communication between us had definitely been so much less frequent than I was used to, and the old me would have worried that our friendships would have changed. But they didn’t. With a select few, we picked up right where we left off months ago.

Of course that didn’t happen with all of my old friends. And again, the old me, the 25-year-old me, would have worried and stressed obsessed about those friendships that weren’t a part of my life anymore. I can just hear my thoughts now. “Am I a horrible human being? Do people like me? Do I even deserve friends? No, of course I don’t, I deserve to be alone.” But those thoughts are part of the old me (at least most of the time). Now, I’m ok with letting those relationships go. Obviously they aren’t meant to be a part of my life anymore, and that’s ok. I don’t mean it’s easy to let go, but it is, in fact, ok to do that. The relationships that live on through my move out of state are the ones I really need. And the new friendships I’m forming in Colorado are filling places in my heart I didn’t know needed to be filled.

So obviously that’s a huge change for me. What does yoga teacher training have to do with any of this? The teacher training magnified what I was already learning through my own explorations with yoga: I am valuable and worthy of love and the love that I need shows up most intensely when I love myself first. And showing myself love means not worrying about things I can’t control, about people who don’t have time for me, about whether everyone I ever meet absolutely loves me. Showing myself love means focusing on giving my whole heart to the people who add something of real value to my life and letting the others go without resentment or anger.

Through so many yoga classes and all of the group classroom stuff, I learned to love myself all the time. And I don’t mean that in an “I’m always fabulous” sort of way. I’m imperfect, I have flaws, I make mistakes. But all of that is ok and part of who I am and the journey I’m on, and if I show myself love, I’m more equipped to give back to others while I’m on my own journey. And regardless of whether I teach yoga to others, I walk away from the experience so much better and so much happier than before and that is seriously invaluable. I also have a lot more time to actually post on the blog, and so I’ve got a bunch of stuff scheduled out now. Which is what I intended all along. I think. Ok, maybe I have no idea what I intended when I set this thing up, but yoga also showed me that the blog could be so useful, to me and to others, and so I’ve got some more stuff coming.

Happy weekend, all. I hope it’s been a good one!

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