The last year has been full of doubt and uncertainty in my own craft. I’ve been teaching yoga and barre full-time for nine years and I’ve felt far less sure and confident of myself today than I did in the beginning.
In a world where our worth as a yoga or fitness teacher seems dependent on class numbers, high amounts of followers and likes, and publicly-available Classpass and Google reviews, I have felt like I can’t compete. I’m not a competitive person and I never have been.
I feel the pressure to be something extraordinary, to become a celebrity, to get people’s attention and have them care about me and praise me.
I see the efforts that others in my community put into their social media and a sense of failure immediately fills my being. Everyone seems to have a professional photographer with them at all times, has unsurmountable inspiration and motivation while sporting the newest gear, the most perfect hair and a perfectly toned body to match.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “are you just jealous?”
Hell yes I’ve experienced jealousy! And doubt. And inadequacy. And envy. I also want to acknowledge the incredible amount of work that my community members put into building their brand. I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out how I might do the same, where I can take a visually-appealing yoga picture, how I can get people look at me and pay attention to me so that I might have bigger classes and amazing reviews and more followers because…society says that matters…
I finally realized, after reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, that my standards are way too high.
They’re unrealistic and feel disingenuous. The goal of yoga and meditation is about releasing our attachment to the ego, about letting go of our identity, our need to be seen and heard and admired and noticed. THAT makes sense to me. That feels like an honest and attainable goal. No doubt it requires an immense amount of work and focus (as does becoming a yoga or fitness celebrity), but this goal actually makes my heart light up with excitement.
My merits for success have been unattainable. I needed to change my perspective to focus on what does feel authentic and the things that I have control over right now such as:
Being authentic and present in my classes is a massive success alone. In fact I feel silly now thinking that I ever needed to be more. And sure, there are teachers who can be authentic and present and also be a yoga/fitness celebrity and that’s great for them. But if I can just show up and create a safe and comfortable space for people to have a present moment experience, then I would feel as though I’ve contributed positively to my community.
I wish I had realized this all sooner. In this day and age, in this society, it’s not as easy as it seems to just “be yourself”. Simple, yes. Easy, no. It’s obvious that part of our job as yoga and fitness teachers is to be likeable, if you’re not, students don’t come. Being myself unfortunately does not mean that I will build my class numbers, it won’t get me more Instagram followers (in fact, my numbers seem to drop the most when I think I’m posting something “epic”) and it might not get me better ratings online. BUT…but…it’s the only thing that I know I can actually live up to.
Right now, just simply being myself is the only standard of success that I can honestly strive towards. I don’t have a grandiose personality, I probably don’t teach the most amazingly creative flows, I don’t have the prettiest pictures to post on social media and I won’t tell you that everything is “love and light”. I can give it to you straight, I want to be able to talk about the imperfections of my humanity without being ashamed.
I can only live up to being ordinary.
I don’t work out every day. I sleep a lot. I overindulge. I fall off the wagon. I get back on the wagon and feel like I have things figured out and then fall off again. I set goals. I fail. Sometimes I am myself and people respond well. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I clean my house. Lots of times I don’t. I experience insecurity about my personality, my body, my hair. my food, my mind, my choices. Sometimes I experience so much anxiety about teaching, about showing up perfectly and making people like me that I can’t even show up for my class. I’ve made myself sick trying to live up to these unrealistic standards.
So here I am, an ordinary woman, with ordinary goals. And I happen to teach yoga. I won’t try to drop esoteric spiritual knowledge on you, I’m not special and I don’t know things that you don’t know. I’m just an average person. All I can commit to is being present with my classes. I can’t think of anything more rewarding or satisfying.
By Erin Wimert
My name is Erin and I have been teaching yoga, barre and fitness classes for the last nine years in both Denver and San Francisco. I specialize in Vinyasa (Beginners-Advanced), Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra and I run the teacher trainings for the barre program at Endorphin in Denver, Colorado. I have trained with and am deeply influenced by Annie Carpenter, Amy Ippoliti, Jason Crandell and Jeremy Wolf. Through my study of the mind and body, I feel that I’m able to provide detailed yet accessible alignment cues in any style of class to create purposeful adjustments- improving safety, efficacy, and overall physical and mental performance. In my free time, you can find me reading my Kindle, loving on my cats, or working on music with my partner, Michael. Together, we co-teach and co-DJ in a group called Sonic Flow; you can find us teaching regularly on Friday nights and at different events and festivals around the state. I look forward to sharing some time and space with you!
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