The Journey

Jeanne Holmes
Written by Jeanne Holmes

It was always a thought in the back of my mind. Teaching yoga wasn’t something that I could actually do, I just had to be content with practising it. After all, to be a yoga teacher, you need to understand human anatomy, have competent teaching skills, business acumen and a whole bundle of confidence as well as personal fitness.

After years of practising yoga with various teachers, attending workshops and retreats abroad, I kept wishing that I could do the things they were doing, teaching, and I also desired to look as lithe and fit as some of them did.
When I first started to practice yoga, it was very different to today’s culture, where Western practice is mainly concentrated on exercise and asana and You Tube is instantly accessible. Yoga teachers were non- existent, perhaps only one or two could be found in my local area at that time, teaching alongside their full-time regular employment, as not much profit could be made. The availability of teacher training courses was limited and very expensive, far out of reach for most, and not considered as a chosen career. Still my ambition was there and I kept thinking “what if?”

I always like to study during the winter months when it’s cold and dark outside, and we are inside more, in the warmth, often looking for things to occupy the mind. Over several winters I completed various courses with the Open University, and another with the British School of Yoga (BSY), purely for self-development personal interest. As I browsed through the BSY courses one day, I decided to take the plunge into the unknown, what did I have to lose? A course application was sent off and accepted and I started my new yoga teacher training course. It could be done online, (or written) without any deadline dates and seemed perfectly accessible and affordable too, how easy could this be? My initial thoughts were that I could complete the course, gain a teaching qualification but not necessarily teach classes. After all, being well into my sixties and retired for a couple of years from full time work, it really was just another course to complete. The course lessons were organised in ten stages, each one marked and graded and I progressed until I was half way through. I was always interested in anatomy from my high school years and was happy to be engrossed with my new learning.

Then the self-doubt slowly crept in. I started to question why I was doing this, and what was it going to achieve in the long term? What was the point of doing this at my age? In any case, people aren’t going to be interested. I considered abandoning the course and continued to think negatively about studying anything at all. Then came Covid.

Every excuse I could find was used to avoid completing the course lessons. After all, everyone was living with restrictions because of this horrendous pandemic situation. Businesses were shutting down overnight and no one was going out socially, due to establishments such as restaurants and pubs closing. News reports all over the world were announcing that people were dying by their thousands, and infection was rife. Government ruling was that everyone had to wear face masks and avoid close contact with each other. Scientists advised that specially created vaccines would be necessary as a solution to this virus. The negativity was spreading to everyone like wild fire.

I didn’t “look” like a yoga teacher anyway, it was a stupid idea in the first place, and probably the more challenging postures were unachievable, what was I thinking? As there was no course deadline, I was under no pressure to complete my next lesson, so why bother? My self-set deadline of finishing everything by March 2021 was unmet, the self-sabotage mindset took further control and the procrastination continued.

As online yoga practice became more available, this seemed the only way forward for teachers to continue having some financial stability. Looking back, it was an excellent coping mechanism for me personally throughout the pandemic. I had found an amazing teacher that I had previously practiced with, twice in person, when she was standing in for a local teacher doing temporary holiday cover.
This teacher really stood out from all the rest and I could sense immediately she offered something very special. I looked her up and was given the opportunity to practice with her throughout Covid on an online basis. I feel very blessed and privileged to experience her wonderful teaching knowledge, thoroughness, variety, professionalism compassion, and commitment. I still practice with her today.
Then something happened. I had felt guilt and failure over not completing the course that I had started so enthusiastically, and (less importantly) had also paid the study fees. In October 2021 I picked up where I had left off and finished the rest of the course lessons with a smile, encouraged by some great comments from the tutors. Then came the final examination.

My current yoga teacher advised that she would be moving north to pastures new, so I am grateful for that extra push and motivation I needed to finish. Everything seemed to fall into place, and the timing was perfect. I particularly wanted her to carry out my final assessment as being so intuitive, she knew my capabilities. We then arranged a date before her forthcoming house move for my final exam, a challenging time for both of us. The night before was a sleepless one, going over and over my posture preparation then repeating it to myself again and again. With much trepidation, the next day I set off on the thirteen-mile journey to her studio for my first physical teaching assessment.

I arrived early and gave it everything that I had pre planned and practiced. An hour or so later I was relieved when it was all over, and we took some photos. The preparatory work paid off and I was given much encouragement and praise from my teacher. I felt completely elated and high as a kite afterwards, and found it all quite overwhelming and surreal. In fact, I almost crashed my car driving back home. Feeling ever so pleased with myself, I gaily approached the first roundabout, then I remember having to brake very sharply indeed, as the sound of a deafening horn halted me to a sudden stop. I did get a bit of a fright and felt embarrassed, but I put this down to the endogenous opioid neuropeptides, (more commonly known as endorphins) and waved apologetically to the other (rather annoyed) driver.
After a positive outcome from the final assessment, one week later I received a phone call from BSY whilst walking to my local library. A lovely English lady, (one of the BSY lecturers) spoke to me saying “I am just ringing to let you know that you passed your yoga teacher exam”). I thanked her enthusiastically and after a short pause she added “with distinction”. I stopped and leaned against the library wall feeling very emotional. I said to her that I felt I could cry, and she replied “I hope it’s with happiness” and of course it was. I received my yoga teacher training certificate in November 2021 from BSY and immediately kissed it then framed it.

I finally did it. My journey is complete.

The point is: perseverance wins despite all the odds presented – mainly in the mind I might add, certainly in my case, the battle was within.

I now teach my own class and at time of writing I am preparing the next practice for my students.

My final message is that if I can do it, anyone can. Trust yourself implicitly and never doubt your own ability to succeed!


Main photo by Junseong Lee on Unsplash