There is a commonality amongst most humans towards a sense of belonging. We want to “fit in” to a certain tribe or way of life. There is an underlining desire as humans to want to connect with peers, loved ones and sometimes even strangers.
I’ve been practicing yoga for over twenty years, and it wasn’t until this year that I felt a barrier break down in my practice that had been lingering for some time. In my experience, I had considered yoga to be bit of a hierarchy, similar to high school cliques with people climbing the chain in life towards “success”. I’ve always considered my yoga teachers more experienced and knowledgeable and therefore better than me in some way. I’d always thought of myself as a novice in yoga, regardless of how long I’ve been practicing, or how much training I had under my belt.
I’ve been complimented before as a yoga teacher from students and until this year I haven’t taken the time to allow the compliments to touch my heart. This has never been a criticism of my students, it just seemed natural to brush away compliments. Not allowing myself to connect with my students was causing a cycle of self-harm that I didn’t even realize existed within myself. I was constantly trying to measure up to nothing in particular as a teacher, always thinking of what I could add to the next class to make it better, even thinking of how to get more classes and a desire to be known as a local yoga instructor. With that preface in mind, I never thought I had enough to offer, never feeling confident enough in my abilities. When placed in a room full of yoga instructors I always felt like a fish out of water in a great big pond of expertise. I was trying to teach others how to be present, without actually living as my authentic self or allowing students to connect with me as an imperfect human.
I’m not sure where my turning point occurred. I don’t want to say that I woke up one morning and saw a fork in the road and said I’m going to live a life of great self-fulfillment. Trusting that I’m doing the best I can possibly do for myself and my students in the present moment has allowed me to connect deeper with others while teaching. I’m curious if other instructors have experienced this type of shift? I know as teachers we’re always learning and growing, that part I’ve felt for years… But this shift was something new for me. It might have come at a recent weekend yoga training where I spent two days in a room with very gifted instructors. Because of the content of the training, there were moments for each of us where we felt exposed and broke down. There was a light bulb going off in my head shining the message, “guess what… we’re all human.” We’re all trying to create the best human experience we can muster while dodging pebbles and sometimes boulders along the way.
It’s taken me years of practice to clue into this learning, and to realize that there’s no such thing as perfection. There’s no perfect yoga instructor. In the big picture, when envisioning our greatest, most true self there has to be some baggage that we carry along the way to make us the best possible versions of ourselves. We desire to belong to a community of passionate, like-minded individuals who support and raise us up to see past our imperfections.
I realize now that we’re all just longing to belong. It’s what makes us human. It’s what makes yoga such a beautiful practice of movement, breath and connection to higher self. I love teaching yoga. I love helping others find an hour of peace within their hectic lives to join together and share themselves. Perhaps light bulbs of greater concepts are going off for them, right in the middle of our shared practice. Next time, I’ll take the opportunity to go for coffee after class and listen to their experience. I’ve let go of the hierarchy and instead seek to connect with those who are willing to walk side by side, veering off to different trails now and again and taking giant leaps of faith along the way.
Yoga is vulnerable. Yoga is radiant. Yoga is honest. It’s a lifelong undertaking where some people might be a few steps ahead and others a couple behind, but the true point is that we are all on the same trail, lit by acceptance and love that shine bright.
The Victoria Yoga Conference fills my cup every year. I enjoy the education and the mindfulness over the entire weekend that encourage me to live in the present. I shed a few more inhibitions each year and arrive with my mind wide open and a desire to just be a part of this magical experience. I hope by sharing my vulnerability in growth I might inspire others to reach out and step on the path as a participant at the Victoria Yoga Conference. This year is my third year as an Ambassador at the VYC, and I’m going to stretch my comfort zone and look around for any fresh faces who may need a smile and support to know that they too belong, and that their offerings to the group are just as powerful as any other. There is no hierarchy at the VYC, just a collective of beautiful people walking on the same path, just longing to belong.
Deb is a 200hr Yoga Instructor with a passion for teaching a variety of students and styles at the Kamloops Community YMCA-YWCA. She enjoys teaching Vinyasa style flow classes with intention towards connecting breathe through movement. She has a recreation and fitness background with current certifications in Balanced Barre, Individual Conditioning, TRX and Cycling. Her most recent training is as a Trauma Informed Yoga Teacher through Yoga Outreach. She’s honoured for the third year to be representing Kamloops as a Yoga Ambassador at the Victoria Yoga Conference. Her background includes a passion for the outdoors with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Education and a Master’s Degree in Parks & Recreation Administration. She has two children ages 8 & 10 and enjoys teaching yoga to their school in her spare time. Deb has been practicing yoga for over 20 years. Her practice shifts each year, as she tries to listen and nurture her truest self. She loves immersing in new learning at the VYC amongst beautiful like-minded nurturing yogis. Feel free to connect with Deb and perhaps chat how you too can join the VYC and participate in a glorious yoga filled weekend.