by Clare Mottola
The road to becoming a yoga teacher has been a kind of magical voyage meets fill-in-the-blank-biggest-fear-ever. If my journey to teaching yoga had a publicity poster, it would be something like Macaulay Culkin’s HOME ALONE famous gasp. Although I have been a drama teacher for many, many years, becoming a yoga teacher has been an entirely different journey. When training I’d often scream inside my head, “note to self, yoga teacher training was a terrible idea!” As I began to practice teach, I would be racked with terror. I could still hear my dear friend and fellow trainee, Jody Raso, lovingly saying, “Clare you cannot huddle in the corner when you’re teaching.” I tended to hide, literally curled up in a ball, begging for someone to save me. But soon enough, I was an actual teacher. THE teacher. Alone. In the studio. With a group of eager students. All needing ME to teach THEM. There I’d be sweating, stressed, disoriented, and lacking basic language skills like “hello” and “good.” I had forgotten my own motto, what I am heard saying all the time to others, do what scares you most.
Do what scares me most? Do what scares me most.
In this acknowledgement of fear, I began to see a shift occur. My students were teaching me. Their joy, their ease, and their love of the practice… it was all guiding me. As I opened up my eyes and crawled out from the corner, with less retreating into a ball and more strength to walk around the studio, I started to teach. I began to allow myself to be student and teacher, darkness and light, terrified and brave, all at the same time.
There are a few things I carry with me everyday. One of them is a slip of paper that a young student gave me many years ago. It reads, “you taught me everything I know.” I carry this with me not because I remotely find an iota of truth to her words but because she spoke my truth. My students, children and adults, have indeed been my greatest teachers. My journey as a yoga teacher is barely out of the gate, and I can only hope that as I head deeper into the voyage it continues to hold more magic and less terror. But when the fear sets in I know, as I do what scares me most, all I need to do is look out, not only in, and see a studio full of gurus. Students and teachers, each of us, removing darkness. Over and over, again and again.
Clare teaches a Level 1 Class in Scarsdale: 6pm on Thursdays and 12:30pm on Saturdays.
Interested in training? Contact Betsy Kase (firstname.lastname@example.org). Don’t miss your chance to enroll in the 2013-2014, 200-hour teaching training.