Drop the self-doubt, make it happen Life thoughts

About overcoming self-doubt

When i thought about teaching an actual yoga class someday, i was immediately filled with self-doubt. Just some of the thoughts swirling in my head:

How the hell can i do this?
What if i freeze in the middle of the class?
What if i forget what to say?
What if i mix up left and right?
What if i forget what a leg is called?
What if my instructions are not clear?
What if everyone hates my class?
What if i am not creative enough?
What if the other experienced people and teachers judge me?

Drop the self-doubt, be here now, be there later

And have you ever had this moment: You have to do a thing. Then you watch someone else do the thing. And comparison starts eating you up: maybe i should do it more like her? Maybe i should also include this and this.. Maybe i should use these words, they seem better than mine. She did it so well, mine is nothing compared to hers. What if others will compare us? They will probably not like mine as much. Maybe i should try to make mine more like hers.

I feel myself wanting to curl up to a little ball and stay there. Forever.

Self-doubt is heavy to carry. It weighs you down. It’s a real, deep feeling that eats you up in tiny little pieces until you are left as a nervous wreck. And it’s up to you to either let it happen or stop it before it really begins. And when you think about it a bit deeper, it’s only lies. It’s all what-ifs. It’s not reality, it is an illusion in your own mind. It’s nothing that has happened already, nothing that’s happening to you right now.

I explored my feelings and came to the conclusion that my self-doubt is caused by the following things:

  • fear of not being perfect (=messing up words, mixing left and right, forgetting something, not being clear enough)
  • fear of judgement (=what if they will hate it? what if they will think i am not good enough?)
  • comparison (=the teacher i had before was so good, i am not as good as they are.)

Drop the self-doubt, find your own way

My advice to myself for overcoming self-doubt

  1. Your breath is your strongest ally. So be there with your breath. Connect with it. Every time you remember, come back to your breath.
  2. Acceptance. Practice fierce, radical acceptance towards the fact that you are feeling this way. Tell yourself it’s okay. You are human being with feelings. There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong if other people see your nervousness. So accept your feeling instead of fighting it. Acknowledge it but don’t dwell on it. Create space around it. You are a human, you have a feeling, and it’s fine.
  3. Get out of yourself. No one is thinking about you as much as you are. No one is thinking about your performance as much as you are. No one is thinking about your speech and movements as much as you are. Literally no one cares about it as much as you do. No one judges yourself as much as you do. So get out of yourself and realize: it is not about you.
  4. I repeat: it is not about you. It is about the people who come there to practice with you. It is about sharing what you know with them. You are just there, in between the people and the yoga. It has nothing to do with you or how you mixed up left and right and how you forgot the name of a body part.
  5. If someone is judging you – this also has nothing to do with you. Someones judgement does not define you. It does not define your practice, your knowledge, your class. It only has to do with the person who is judging and their inner journey. It is none of your business what they think about you.
  6. No one expects perfectionism. Neither should you. You have seen your favorite teachers make mistakes. They don’t dwell on it, they don’t stop to think “oh man, i messed that up. Damn, what do i do now? I can’t believe i made a mistake”. They carry on without apologies. They are used to it. Because it happens to all of us, literally. So why should you expect perfection from yourself? As you know, expectations create fear. When the fear is there, you can’t focus on the doing. So drop it. Drop the perfectionism and know that whatever happens, it’s ok.
  7. When you compare yourself to another person and how they do a thing, you start drifting away from your authentic self. When you try to follow a script that’s not natural to you, you drift away from your authentic self. And when you drift away, you are trying to play a role: a role of yourself, a role of something else, a role of the perfect teacher you want to be. And when this happens, you start automatically being more insecure, more clumsy, more not-knowing-what-to-do-and-say. So be authentic. Be how you are, right at this moment. Do not try to be who you want to be after two years of practice. Do not try to imitate someone else. Do not lose the authenticity. “Start where you are, with what you have.”
  8. And remember: whatever happens in your first class, second class or on the 150th class, does not define you as a teacher.

Beatles ashram in Rishikesh India

With these things in mind, i will start preparing myself. By practicing compassion towards myself, practicing acceptance towards all the feelings that are rising up. And by keeping it super simple for now.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh Travel

200 hours yoga teacher training: the experience III

19th of July

“I stopped counting days gone and started counting days left. No no no nono. I want to stay. I want to submerge myself into this world of yoga and being and learning. And never stop. Never, never. I can’t believe it has already been two and a half weeks. Now the teaching practices start, now i need the confidence and the bravery. I feel like i live in a world of blessings coming towards me, one after another. Surrender. Everything will come. I let myself into the surrender. To get the 100% out of everything and to make the 100% out of everything.

Where do the hours go because i don’t know? Every morning i wake up and see, it’s a new beautiful day. Every morning i have my morning tea outside with Irene, wave to the local lady on the rooftop across the street. And every morning i pour salt water into my nostril and out of the other nostril. I practice breathing in different ways, i sing, i practice rough Vinyasa flow. I eat big breakfast of oatmeal, lay down for 30 minutes and then study anatomy and philosophy. I eat a big lunch of rice and veggies, nap and try to study for 2,5 hours. Then i learn about asanas and body alignment, i do 1,5 hours of intense Ashtanga. Then i look out the upstairs window for 30 minutes. The people downstairs, the people across the road, children playing, cows on the field. And then i learn a new meditation technique or a new mantra he makes us sing one by one again. Then i have a big dinner of veggies and chapati, have tea outside with Irene again. And relax, sleep, and do it all over again.”

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

27th of July

“I just cannot wrap my head around how fast this July has been. It’s just… Gone. Suddenly it’s gone. What a strange thing time is. I feel like going out to the world will be scary and strange. Like a baby bird flying out of it’s nest for the first time.

“This is it for the month” said the philosophy teacher and i was ready to cry then and there. Every single day he used to say “this is it for the day.” Suddenly, it’s gone. Suddenly, it’s ceremony day. Suddenly i am a certified yoga teacher. Fastest month of my life.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

And wow how many hard things i faced. Speaking truthfully to people, showing my weaknesses. This experience shaped me in so many ways. I did so many scary things. Sang in front of the class. Faced my hidden emotions. Meditated to painful memories. Let go of the grip of the past and the illusion of the future. Taught a yoga class. Used my voice. Found my voice. And my voice was heard, it is calm and it is steady. I am not shaking anymore, i am not scared anymore. My heart is blown wide open. It was all so hard. None of it was easy, really. But i did it. Yesterday i danced in the kitchen not caring about anyone who was watching. This is how i want to live my life. I am ready to dance and sing and play like no one is watching.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

My journey has now begun. I am excited, nervous and in love. With life and the world. The new me that’s coming out from behind the clouds. Never ever in my life have i learned this much. Never.

I look outside from my open door, look at the people chatting, the girls i got to know from all over the world, the indian boys who turned out to be so sweet and funny. And i feel so so much love for this little yoga family. So much good energies, so much love.

Yes, so never in my life have i experienced anything like this before. I am not ready to let go. But i know i have to, soon. Two nights left and i am going to be all here, taking it all in, as much as i can, as deep as i can. My heart is bursting. Of gratitude, joy, love, happiness, all the good pure feelings in the world. No matter how hard i try i can’t put this feeling into words.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

Basically i just cannot believe the course is over and i can’t believe i did it. Best decision of my life. The most beautiful, growing experience. To come here. I was so scared, i will never forget how scared i was. How i cried and screamed “i can’t go, i can’t go, don’t make me do this”. But i did anyway. And i am so, so proud of myself.

Here i am… Staring at the mountains from the big glass windows. A little black cat sleeping under a table outside. I am fully in myself. So fully here. Not waiting for anything, not needing anything. Things will come, on their own, when it is time. No use in waiting or expecting. Be here now, be there later. This is how i am now. Here. Oh the feeling of bliss and joy. The lightness. Lightness of being here, in myself, in my moment, not waiting or needing anything. Like i am being freed of something.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

Why did i keep waiting for something, all the time? Why did i always forget to enjoy myself? Always waiting for something or someone or some different time. It was so wrong. As if i was not enough for myself so i kept waiting for something else. And when i got what i was waiting for, i was joyful for a while, but damn what a fleeing feeling. The next moment i was waiting again.

So now, this one… Being so fully in myself. Full of myself. Wow. I am enough. I am not needing anything or anyone. Everything is here, everything. I think this might be the first time in my life that i am feeling like this. Full acceptance, full knowing that everything will come when it is time, i do not need anything. Everything is here. I am letting everything be. This is what happiness is like.”

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh Travel

200 hours yoga teacher training: the experience II

6th of July

“Twenty minutes in meditation last night. I hear the soft sound of the teachers voice and see where my mind is going. I tap in and observe. Outside to the streets, in Rishikesh, cows, cars, motorbikes, honking, dust, dogs, teachers voice, breathe, remember to breathe, candles, dogs, everything feels like a movement, it feels like i am flying, this is amazing, so amazing. Remember to breathe, women in sarees, teachers voice, focus on the breath, singing, i will have to sing, oh shit, he will make me sing, but why worry, why worry…

And then he said this thing: if you don’t laugh at the same joke for seven times, why do you keep worrying about the same thing for a hundred times? Yes, it makes no sense, no sense at all. So i had a bad day yesterday, but i chose to keep smiling and i chose to not worry. That’s all we have. The choice. I can be paralyzed by my fear and my worry or i can simply choose to drop it. And now i choose to drop it. I accept myself as being nervous and being scared, i don’t need to hide it. I can show my weaknesses to people. I can be open. I don’t have to hide it. Because it’s ok to feel like this. It’s being human. I don’t need people to see me as this strong, tough person. I want them to see me as i am so i can be fully myself. A human being who feels. Scared and nervous from time to time, but accepting it, overcoming it.”

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

7th of July

“Today is the day of Kunjal. Throwing up. A cleanse for the stomach. So i drank warm salt water, glass after glass after glass. And more. Some people, they drank, they threw up and they left. But i was there after one hour, trying to throw up the water and get it all out. I was left with a sore throat and sore muscles. The teacher touched my shoulder and told me good job Essi, every single time i threw up a bit. Honestly one of the most strange experiences in my life.

Now i am tired but strangely happy. And very thirsty. Weak on the knees and the effort of trying to throw up. My body just shut down and resisted it until it couldn’t anymore. Anyway, now i am strangely light, as if i can breathe easier. Cleansing like this. So so many things i have never done before. And more keep on coming. Every day feels like a new exciting beginning of something else.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

And it feels so strange i was supposed to be in Finland by now. That i left in December and i am still away. “Don’t worry”, said my intuition when i was stressing over a summer job. You don’t need to worry, the inner voice said. And i stopped worrying. And all this happened. India happened. I am here now, having life changing experiences. Emotions are trying to take over me and control me, there is just too much emotion in me, i want to scream them out. But i try to focus. Tap in on the moment, again and again, every time i open my door and step outside. I try to focus and breathe, and sing and chant… Oh, all the emotions. The bliss. The joy.”

Maa Kunjapuri temple, rishikesh Travel

200 hours yoga teacher training: the experience

First of all, i have to say traveling to India, to Rishikesh, to take my yoga teacher training was completely spontaneous: this one day i was having salad with a friend and got a text about a training in India that’s affordable and good. Could i do it? I remember thinking this over and over again, while sending out my application, and while paying the deposit, i was still thinking “could i do it?” as if it hadn’t been decided yet. And two and a half months later, i was there. Sitting in the office, filling up forms and papers, seeing the first glimpse of people who would be my classmates for the next month.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

I remember so well looking at the welcome papers. I read them over and over again as if i couldn’t believe i was there. This is what the schedule was like for me:

  • 05:15 Wake up
  • 05:30 – 06:00 Morning tea
  • 06:00 – 06:30 Pranayama (yogic breathing) and shatkarma (yogic cleansing practices)
  • 06:30 – 08:30 Vinyasa Flow Yoga
  • 08:30 – 09:30 Breakfast
  • 09:30 – 10:30 Anatomy and Physiology
  • 11:00 – 12:30 Yoga Philosophy
  • 12:30 – 13:00 Lunch
  • 13:15 – 15:00 Rest / self-study
  • 15:00 – 16:00 Body Alignment
  • 16:00 – 17:30 Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga Asana
  • 18:00 –  19:00 Meditation / Mantra Chanting
  • 19:15 –  20:15 Dinner time
  • 20:15 Self Study – Rest time.

It felt so good to have a serious routine for a while, because for seven months my life has been nothing but a routine. I felt sucked into it. To the world of learning and yoga. I feel like i can’t simply put it to words so i will write parts of my journal here to share, one post every day for a couple of days – enjoy!

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

Pieces from my journal

2nd of July

“The butterflies in my stomach are calm after so many days and so many tears and so much thinking i can’t do it, i can’t do it. But i am here, laying on my soft thick blanket, casually peeking out my window to see who is outside. For one month i will be here, for one whole month this will be my home. There is 30 people in my course, half of them boys from India and a few from Nepal, half western girls and one guy. First day of studying is halfway, we are doing neti cleansing every single morning, then pranayama, vinyasa flow, anatomy, philosophy… And i am so excited, every single thing excites me, all the new things i am going to learn. So much feelings.”

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

4th of July

“Today i am a bit tired for the first time. Cats kept meowing loudly outside. I kind of wanted to relax and close my eyes and fall to the deep sleep again. But i sat up. Started breathing. Remembering the words of the meditation teacher: “promise me you will do this first thing in the morning. Promise me.” So i did. And breathed. Observed. And breathed. So many thoughts in my mind, Bohemian Rhapsody giving a soundtrack to them. Fat dogs. Cow poop. Should i wear a hoodie? Will the boys be looking at my butt? I wonder if the salt for cleansing is made from tap water because i swallowed it. So many thoughts. And i observed all of them. And the upper back pain, the sighs of frustration i let out, the light creeping in between the curtains, sounds of the kitchen boys making tea, the urge to crawl under my blanket again.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

And then i opened my eyes and adjusted myself to the dim 5.30 am light, slowly slowly started drinking my water, rose up and went outside to get my morning tea. Drank my tea, did the neti cleanse, did the pranayama, did the vinyasa flow. Chanted. Aligned myself, used all of my muscles, looked up to the sky, down to the earth, straight forwards to the hills with mist. Ate my breakfast mindfully. Did not nap, Changed into comfy clothes, came upstairs to the yoga hall to think. And wait. Next up is anatomy. Skeleton. Indian boys are slowly coming in. Back is hurting again but i have a strange joy that is bubbling out of me. Yesterday i had a strange joy also, i smiled and giggled and i chanted a mantra in sanskrit while everyone listened. Joy is bursting out every way it’s possible. So much good, deep feelings.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

And this morning class of philosophy was the most beautiful, i wanted to stay and dwell on it, i wanted him to keep on talking for hours and hours. The way he described life, modern life, how we have lost ourselves – now and just now i know what “finding yourself” means. How it doesn’t mean you find your personality, or what you like and what you don’t, what you act like or how you communicate. It’s not you. Finding yourself means going back home, to the you that is the witnessing presence of all this. And he said, you are ready to return home. To you. You think you chose to come to Rishikesh, but the reality is that Rishikesh chose you. Because you are ready.

Yoga teacher training in India Rishikesh

The only way i can describe how i feel: beautiful. I feel simply beautiful. I am understanding everything better hour after hour. And it’s only day three. I feel like this, bliss, joy, love. I promise to myself, to keep up with everything and anything i will learn. To keep returning home, day after day. I might lose myself, i might go wrong ways, but i will always, always keep on returning.”