Ceci n’est pas une professeur de yoga.
I can remember sitting in Amy Ippoliti‘s class at Crunch Gym, on Lafayette Street, in New York in 2000. She was brightly sharing her capacious know-how with a room-full of amazed gym goers, who were, like me, surprised and delighted by the depth of what she was sharing – and the ease of her presence – and the general hilarity of the atmosphere. I remember the kindling of the desire, even then – to teach yoga.
Which I poo-pooed, of course.
I wasn’t a yoga teacher.
I was not at all clear that it was a life path for me – moreover, I really thought – I am NO Amy Ippoliti! I’m not that funny or pretty, I used to think. I’m not at ease with myself – I don’t have anything to share. She’s amazing. I’m not amazing – so the logic of that mind went.
And so it went that the little inkling of desire was dampened and ignored; even as I studied and ‘accidentally’ became a therapeutic bodyworker. Even as I was invited to leave my office job and become a full-time practitioner of Yamuna Zake‘s therapeutic work alongside her in her New York studio…. Even when I taught, one month after qualifying, a 6 hour workshop in Body Rolling (my first teaching experience ever!).
I used to go online and ‘sniff around’ yoga trainings nonetheless. I even signed up for one – with Ana Forrest – and then shied away at the last minute (losing my deposit!). I looked at the teacher training website of one of my Crunch gym teachers, (the amazing) Paul Dallaghan. He wrote, in the introduction to his teacher training – an encouragement to NOT sign up unless you really felt the calling. The deep, inner calling, that made you KNOW that this is what you are meant to do.
I was hearing no such calling, I told myself. I have never been anything but uncertain… attracted, to be sure, but uncertain. Paul’s words hung heavily in my mind. It must not be for me.
By 2007, I came to a make or break moment in my life. My bodywork practice, despite my skill and good reputation, was foundering. I had to close my studio. I knew I couldn’t keep going the way I was living anymore. I fell into a state of complete confusion and terror: my life as I knew it was breaking down. The only thing that I was good at, the only thing that worked – wasn’t working anymore. I had no idea what I would do if I couldn’t do my bodywork. I dreaded the thought of getting an office job… I was scared, and couldn’t let go. I had spent my time as a yogi scrupulously avoiding any practices associated with in the goddess Kali. Now I couldn’t stop picturing her and calling her, despite myself. I was sailing on waves of nauseating anxiety from the moment I woke until I finally managed to sleep at night.
I started seeing the amazing therapist Roger Linden. He encouraged me to trust in that not-knowing. He held my hand through the wilds of my self-doubt; and I started to feel just a little bit better. Still shaky, though – and with no idea what my future held.
Meanwhile, I had been helping my friend Flocky, a youth worker, to learn to meditate, and sharing what I learned from my own yoga path with her. One afternoon, she said, ‘You really MUST teach this to the kids I work with.’ Something glimmered there.
Meanwhile, I was chanting loads of mantra, deeply calling for direction to take shape in my life. One sleepless night, I was online doing one of my yoga teacher training searches (this was a long-standing ‘time-waste’ for me).
As I clicked through the Anusara website and surveyed the options… I noticed that there was a training in Los Angeles.
I thought of what Flocky said – I could teach yoga to at-risk youth –
Well, I reasoned, I guess if I’m going to teach kids to meditate, I should really have a qualification under my belt.
I knew I wanted to do an Anusara training if I did one at all – the problem was the timing – because I wasn’t planning on doing this for a living – I needed something that wouldn’t take so long. Most Anusara trainings were on weekends spread out over a year or 8 months.
This LA training: only 4 months. I had to admit it was perfect. I had some old NY friends living in LA.
And so the world started turning in that direction; money I didn’t have came my way –
and I casually rocked up at City Yoga to meet Noah Maze, Anthony Benenati, Camilla Bergstrom, and Tara Judelle. Even though I had emailed, they weren’t expecting me.
And so it began. A room full of press handstanders and deep backbenders right in the heart of West Hollywood.
I was in the contemporary yoga capital of the world.
I was too focused on my teaching kids goal – and my rotator cuff injury – (oh yeah, did I mention my arm basically fell off just before I started teacher training?) to be intimidated. I just went with it, anchored in my own purpose line.
And so, what started as a desire to teach kids to meditate was completely re-configured in the wake of meeting Tara Judelle. Her classes were riveting. She was talking about awakening, she was talking about consciousness. She was taking people in deep – and poking fun at everything along the way – yoga culture, herself, us . And I liked it. I liked it a lot.
Within a few weeks, I had caught the bug. I wanted to teach yoga to all kinds of people. I wanted to live in the kind of creative expanse my teachers were teaching from.
And I suppose those 11 intervening years –
between ‘Amy is so amazing, the bar is too high!’ and West Hollywood – where I got to: ‘Fuck it, let’s do this thing’
were necessary for my own journey. I had to stew, to cook down that resistance to my own light.
That’s what it took for me – 11 years of learning and burning – to come to the conclusion that I HAD to leap.
How long has it taken you? Are you still doubting?
Here’s my question to you:
Is that doubt present because you are called in some other direction? Or is it there because there is some part of you that thinks the bar is too high? That thinks, as it were, ‘I am no Amy Ippoliti.’ That thinks it’s not practical… that it won’t work in your life as it is…
Whether it is yoga training or some other situation, I encourage you, with love, to leap.
As my teacher Paul Muller Ortega has said (and I paraphrase) – The time is going to pass, whether you are practicing for your own highest revelation or not.
May you pass your time engaging in the highest arts of living. May you jump the eff into whatever little inkling that might be easily ignored or overlooked, but is vital for your own happiness and deepest heart’s desire.
A good yoga teacher training will do several things:
▪ get you clear on your life’s mission
▪ introduce you to practices that engender bliss, clarity, and empowerment in the whole of your life
▪ call forward your own creativity and brightest personal expression
▪ make you burn through a whole mess of negativity and shadow to get to that gold
▪ call you to study more, learn more, and find the best teachers out there to support you in your own awakening and self-development
And so it’s a super useful compendium of experiences for igniting empowered living, no matter how you slice it.
Here’s my walk away lesson from that 11 years of cooking – perhaps it will save you some time (!).
You are Amy Ippoliti. You are Tara Judelle.
So am I.
You are whatever and whoever it is you have put on a pedestal.
And whatever it is that makes those pedestal people look so glowey and delicious – that is there for you, waiting to be unfolded and enjoyed.
Should you do this yoga training?
May you hear the truest answer of your own heart. And may you follow it.