by Jay Fields
I had wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle for almost ten years. For as much as I wanted to, though, my internal arguments against it were so strong that it kept me from doing it. It’s not safe. It’s too expensive. I probably couldn’t do it even if I tried. My mom would kill me.
But last year the idea of riding a motorcycle started hanging around me more persistently. Even though I hadn’t said it out loud to myself or anyone, I knew after a couple of months of the idea hanging around that it had passed from “I’d maybe like to do that someday,” to “I know that it is inevitable that I am going to do that. Soon.”
And I knew that because I got that feeling in the quiet part of myself that I simply couldn’t not do it. That to not do it would be to say no to something important about the very nature of who I am—or who I was becoming. And though I really wanted to know what that was, I sensed that it wasn’t my privilege to know what I was really saying yes to before I said yes to it. It was simply my responsibility to say yes.
So I did. I took a weekend course in how to ride, and discovered that I loved it. I bought a bike and rode it 100 miles up and down the road I live on before I took it out on another road. (Sorry, neighbors!) For the first few months I was more terrified than I had ever been doing anything in my life. But in the midst of wide-eyed terror, I also had felt types of freedom and joy and agency and love that I had never felt before.
One year, two motorcycles, and 9,000 miles later, I could write a book about all that I’ve learned from riding—in part because there’s so much, and in part because what I’ve learned has been truly remarkable and surprising. It’s the kind of self-learning that before I had only gained through my yoga and meditation practice, and through seeing a therapist. It still kind of blows my mind the power that riding has had, and continues to have, for me.
And though I might, indeed, write that book one day about what I’ve learned from motorcycles, that’s not what I’m really writing about today. What I’m really writing about today is the category of things that we deeply want to do and that make no practical sense. The kind of things that though you, or anyone else around you, could argue six ways to Sunday why it’s probably not the best thing for you to do at this time, you just know in your bones that you really, really want to. More, that you must. It’s the thing you can’t not
Along with learning to ride a motorcycle, doing a yoga teacher training also typically falls into that category. Because let’s be honest—how many people say to themselves, “I’m going to train to become a yoga teacher because it’s the practical thing to do.”
People come to training to be a teacher (even if they suspect they’ll never teach) because they get that sometimes sickening feeling that it would be a disservice to their own development if they didn’t. That they must, because it feels like for some inexplicable reason that’s on the opposite side of an imaginary spectrum from “practical,” it holds a key that will unlock some special kind of something they need.
If you’re that person, I’m here to whisper to you that it’s ok—it’s reason enough. And then some. (And just for perspective, that’s coming from one of the most practically-minded people out there.) Because here’s what’s true from my experience as a student in and a teacher of yoga teacher trainings: they aren’t about learning how to teach yoga.
Well, they are, in that you will learn the basic information you will need to teach yoga. But they aren’t in that you will learn so much more about yourself and other people and the practice of yoga than you ever imagined. It’s one of those learning experiences where it seems almost universally true that people go in thinking they’ll get one thing and they come out with something bigger or deeper or different than what they thought they were saying yes to in the first place.
Side note: I think AHEM is an especially potent incubator for this kind of transformational experience because Hala, Julian and I are committed to giving you the practical information you will need to teach yoga as well as to really creating a learning environment that supports self-awareness and self-responsibility.
So if you know exactly why getting a yoga teacher training is actually the most practical step for what you want to do next in your life, great. Sign up. Be willing to be surprised.
And if you have a list of ten reasons why it’s probably not a great idea for you to do a teacher training—but you also have that feeling that you can’t not do it, great. You don’t have to know why. It doesn’t have to make sense. You don’t have to know how you would apply this training. You don’t even have to want to be a yoga teacher. You just have to say yes to the part of you who senses it’s important to say yes, and then open yourself to learning.
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