Natalie Dunbar | RYT-200
On becoming a yoga teacher
Today I became a yoga teacher.
It took some time for this fact to sink in. In fact, as you'll see in the photo gallery below, I actually had to write "I am a yoga teacher!" no less than 20 times - in 20 different colors - for it to really sink in.
Unlike my journey as a student of yoga, making the decision to become a yoga teacher was more of a subtle. Kind of like a whisper, really.
For some reason, rather than accepting that this was the path I was meant to be on, I told myself that I wanted to become a yoga teacher to "augment my knowledge of anatomy as a marathon coach." As though I needed to explain to myself or anyone else why I wanted to each.
In fact, I'd purchased a copy of Leslie Kaminoff's book, "Yoga Anatomy," long before teaching yoga ever entered my mind. I reasoned that learning anatomy in this way would resonate with me more, and as a result, I would become a more knowledgable coach. And while well-intentioned, l believe it was coming from a place of feeling inferior about my coaching.
I was wrong about the book - or more accurately, I wasn't ready for the book, meaning that I wasn't ready to truly receive the knowledge being dropped in the context of yoga, much less apply it to marathoning.
There are similarities, of course. Both pursuits - marathoning and yoga - involve the whole body; and both pursuits involved - or more accurately, required - the collaborative participation of all the major systems of the body, most especially the lungs and breath.
And both taught me the concept of "listening to my body."
But unlike marathoning, which made demands, yoga asked. It nudged - gently, of course.
And it inquired.
Don't get me wrong - I didn't mind the demands that marathoning made of me, both as a participant and as a coach. I started marathoning as a way to reconnect with my body after a very long period of numbness. This sport has served me well for over a decade, and I've no doubt it will continue to do so.
(I'm looking at you, ultra marathon!)
But with yoga, all I had to do was show up. I could be silent. I could explore or inquire, all with no expectations. Sometimes I'd leave my mat with answers, but more often than not, I'd leave with even more questions. And along the way, with every asana, with every practice, and eventually with every module of yoga teacher training, I realized that this was yoga: creating the space to ask questions, and being open to the answers when - and if - they came, in whatever form they arrive in.
And so one day, after rekindling my relationship with my mat, the decison to teach slowly revealed itself as a question: What if you teach yoga? And, what if in doing so, you could help others find the road to healing along the way?
I've written this many times in introductory emails and marketing blurbs, but it bears repeating here:
One of the things I champion as a marathon coach is coaching from a place that leads each individual athlete I work with to see what is possible for them. I approach teaching yoga in much the the same way, and I'm quite excited about bringing accessible yoga to all bodies.
Yoga has allowed me to reconnect with my body in a way that only dancing has come close to. And because of how yoga has helped me to sit with and learn from all that I have experienced in my life, both on and off the mat, I hope to help others to experience the same healing and wholeness I have found – perhaps for the first time – through establishing a regular asana practice.