The Art of Readiness

The Art of Readiness

How do you know if you’re “ready” for yoga teacher training?

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” – Hugh Laurie, actor.

We often use the R-word as a valid-sounding, catch-all excuse for why we haven’t done something. From “We’re just not ready to have a baby yet” to “I’ll take that big trip when I’m good and ready” to “I’ll start eating better next week once I’ve readied my fridge with a pound of kale.” And if you’re reading this, perhaps this one has crossed your mind in the last few years: “Maybe one day I’ll do a yoga teacher training, but my bank account/free time/headstand practice isn’t ready yet.”

I can’t help but wonder, how many phenomenal new teachers are out there today, sitting on the fence waiting until they’re ‘ready’ to teach? When there’s no perfect time and no shortage of legitimate sounding excuses for why it can’t be this year. The universe is always ready for you to do what you were meant to do. It’s your mind that’s stuck, perpetually waiting to work up the courage to make some real changes in your life.

My courage came three months ago, after years of feeling overworked and lonely in New York City. True to the ‘wandering Millennial’ cliché, I quit my comfortable-but-unfulfilling corporate job, gave up my geographically-desirable-but-tiny studio apartment, sold all my furniture on Craigslist, and decided to backpack through South America for some good old-fashioned soul-searching. As my days in NYC had started feeling more like dreaded drudgery, yoga was one of the few things that kept me grounded and sane. So one day on a whim I googled “yoga retreats” and instead the search algorithm gods serendipitously served up the words I’d been subconsciously too scared to type in: “yoga teacher training.” A few hours of research and reading confirmed that’s what I’d been searching for all along. (And apparently I wasn’t the only one, as The Onion quipped “all but 32 women in New York and San Francisco are now certified yoga instructors”.)

Jokes – and the lure of going to work in cute yoga pants – aside, changing careers is scary.

Starting over is scary. Doing something new for the first time, like teaching a yoga glass, is scary. But what’s more scary is never doing those things that could ultimately bring your soul home, because you didn’t ever feel quite Ready enough.

Every year it’s becoming more common to get your 200 hour certification without knowing if you’ll ever use it to teach, and I fell into that camp. All I knew was that I loved yoga more and more each time I did it, and loved the thought of deepening my own practice and understanding the philosophy behind it. The idea of being Ready after 200 hours of training, to start sharing that practice and understanding with others, was both scary and exciting. But mostly scary. When I met Marianne over the phone before reserving my spot in her upcoming training, she candidly said, “The spot is yours, all we ask is that you come with an open mind and heart – and do the work.”

If you’ve been seriously thinking about doing a yoga teacher training, in the words of Nike and motivational speakers everywhere, just do it. The mere act of signing up breaks the inertia of your life and gets the ball rolling. Slowly all the logistics fall into place. You find that getting away from your daily life for two weeks isn’t that impossible, and that flights to Costa Rica aren’t that expensive.

On the first full day of training, you don’t feel completely Ready for that 6am morning practice, or for meeting 40 new people who can all presumably do a better headstand than you. But then you get to know them over the next few days, and you realize they’re amazing people just like you who all overcame their own “I’m not ready” excuses to be here with you. Some of these amazing people will be part of your life forever. People whose lives and backgrounds seem so different from yours on paper, but whose hearts and paths are now beautifully entwined with yours. You realize you’re all there in search of change and transition. On the surface you’re there to learn how to teach yoga, but you end up learning so much about yourself, feeling like you stumbled into a much-needed “soul rehab” center in the middle of the rainforest.

Before you know it, those intensive weeks of training are over.

You’re suddenly not Ready for it to be over. But you have no choice, so you go back to your “normal life” and find it still exactly the same as you left it, except now YOU’RE different. The way you see the world has changed a bit, brightened and sharpened enough to see that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

It’s been a few months since I completed my training with Marianne and her incredible team, and I’ve been watching my fellow graduates start to teach, hearing the tales on Facebook of first-class-butterflies, forgotten sequences and ultimately “it wasn’t as hard as I thought –I actually CAN do this!”

It took me longer than most to realize that I do want to try my hand at teaching, that I may have something unique to give to others. Do I feel Ready to teach? Heck, no. But I realize that you never feel quite ready to be challenged outside your comfort zone, to start back at square one as a beginner again. So you have to throw yourself into the Ready end of the pool, where the promise of what could be outweighs the fears and hard work you must tackle to get there. (A pre-emptive apology to the unwitting guinea pig yogis in my first few classes.)

There’s a lovely ancient proverb that echoes Hugh Laurie’s musings on readiness: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Do yourself a favor and plant that tree in Costa Rica with Marianne Wells. She’s always ready for you.

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