When I was 18 (or 19? Either way, too young to get something inked onto my body for all eternity, I’ve realized now that I’m so much wiser and older…) I got a tattoo on my right shoulder that reads, “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” I loved the heck out of that tattoo—at least for a few years. While it doesn’t quite resonate with me the way it did when first got it, it’s still extremely applicable to my life and a constant reminder of my own resilience and conscious ability (and will) to recover time and time again after I’ve encountered hardship and disappointment.
Fast forward a bit.
In 2012 when I decided to get certified to teach Yoga Sculpt through CorePower Yoga (CPY), I was stoked. Oh, so freaking stoked. Full disclosure here, there was definitely a ‘cool factor’ influence that played a part (larger than I care to admit) in my decision. Yep, I said it. I was young, a little bit vain, and the glory of one day being a teacher at one of the most well-known yoga studios in the country was extremely appealing.
After I got certified, I did all of the things that CPY requires of teachers before they can begin teaching at CorePower, but I never made it past the audition phase. I auditioned twice, and each time I was sent a letter with feedback for improvement and, in short, rejected. I was mad. But really, the anger was just a not-so-clever way of disguising how sad and racked with disappointment I was. I was humiliated, so after my second go I decided to call it quits. Just like that. So much for the tattoo on my shoulder, am I right? When talking about it over the past years, I've lied to countless people or omitted the truth because I was too fearful of facing my shame.
Fast forward 3 years to the spring of 2016. I had just completed my 200-hour Power Teacher Training (through the same studio) and after successfully landed a spot teaching beginner-level classes at CPY. I was elated. Shortly thereafter, I was asked to audition to teach Yoga Sculpt – which I had sworn I’d never do after two ego-crushing rejections. With some convincing, I somewhat begrudgingly said yes—my aim to please often overshadows what I want for myself.
At first, I hated it. Oh my gosh, it felt like such a chore. I was self-conscious and constantly worrying about what people were thinking. Do people like my music? Can they see my double chin? Is my class hard enough? Are they bored with me? Can they hear me? Is the music too loud? Too quiet?
My preoccupation was less about the experience I was creating for my students and more what they thought about me and my offerings. Me, me, me. Without even realizing it, I was being a total fucking narcissist.
Fast forward again, this time just over a year to the present day, July 2017.
I am still teaching both vinyasa and sculpt classes, although at a different studio than where I first started to teach. I can now say with complete candor and heart that I love to teach—yes, even sculpt. There was never a switch that flipped, it just gradually came to be. Although I can’t pinpoint exactly what changed, during the year-long period from when I started teaching to now, I carved out a lot of time for reflection and put in serious work regarding my own personal development that has contributed to, in my own humble opinion, what feels like leaps and bounds of growth both spiritually and mentally.
The difference? First and foremost: timing. Timing is everything—I cannot stress that enough. When I first auditioned for CorePower, I took those initial rounds of feedback personally (which of course, they were not) and even more in the spirit of self-harming and stunting my own growth, I looked at them as ‘nos’ that metastasized into “not-evers’. I shut down entirely.
If I knew then what I know now (ha), I would have realized that those ‘not evers’ were ‘not nows’. I wasn’t ready—I can see that in hindsight. But rather than listening to the feedback that I was receiving, I threw up walls and with my tail between my legs, I quit. I was too proud, too stubborn, too ashamed to put in the necessary work to become a good teacher. I took the easy way out and accepted defeat rather than working for what I wanted.
Another big difference is that, ego and ulterior motives aside, in those years after I first auditioned I fell in love with my practice. I spent a lot of time on my mat and I learned a whole lot about my mind, my breath, and my body. The love that was cultivated there was as real is it gets. Like, feels-like-it’s-almost-tangible, rosy-cheeks, don’t-want-to-go-to-sleep-at-night kind of love. And when I went through my 200-hour training, it only intensified, expanded and transformed that love into a passion for teaching.
Today, I teach because I love and believe in, with my entire being, what I am teaching. And from that love and faith in what I do, I am open-minded, curious, and determined when it comes to creating classes that will best serve my students. I read books. I take classes to learn from other teachers. I constantly create new sequences. I watch YouTube videos and I spend a lot of time on Pinterest. Rather than a focusing on myself, my full, undivided attention is reserved for my students when I step through the doors of the studio. My motives for teaching started off as self-serving and, somewhere along the way, transformed into what I consider an act of service. I am proud—and happy—as hell to be able to say that I have the privilege of teaching yoga and that it’s simply because I love it; it fills my life with a sense of purpose and sheer joy to be able to share something with others that I have such a profound love for and that had such a profound impact on my life. I am grateful every damn day.
What I’ve taken away from these experiences thus far is this: Trust the timing of my life. A no is only a no if that’s what I decide. I must remain open to the possibility that maybe, despite how much I want something or how hard I have worked, what I think is best, what is right, what is due, might just not ready to come to fruition quite yet. Patience, grasshopper. At the same time, never give up on something that excites me, motivates me, and makes me feel whole. Stay curious, ask questions, be a student of life at whatever age or stage of life I find myself in. And most importantly, figure out what makes me come alive, that fires up the inner-nerd in me, and pursue the hell out of it, no matter how many speed bumps or ‘dead ends’ I encounter along the way. Oh, and if I decide to get another tattoo, I will make sure I'm going to want it in 10, 20, 40+ years. They're really permanent.
We may encounter many defeats, but we must never, ever be defeated.