By Allison Gold Russell, Guest Contributor
After graduating from Yoga Teacher Training in November 2014, I jumped into teaching with two feet, first subbing corporate yoga, then at a local studio, followed by what felt like true magic in the making: I was given my very own weekly classes. Although anxious and in no way feeling worthy of the task, I accepted.
In the beginning, teaching was all so new and exciting. Of course, I made mistakes, but I used self-motivating mantras to help build confidence: “I am new.” “I’m still learning.” “This will take time.” “It’s all okay.”
During the summer, I taught early mornings and an evening poolside class. It was easy to wake up early this time of year and use the energy from the sunlight to propel me into the studio. Yet, I still struggled with not feeling fit to teach my beautiful 6 AM students, and I believed that no matter who was teaching so early in the morning, the students would still attend to get their practice in. I assumed their attendance had little to do with me or my ability to teach.
Then daylight savings came to an end, and life felt busier. I continued to teach, but creative sequencing and new playlists evaporated along with my desire to attend classes as a student. Although I was physically present on my mat, I felt I wasn’t showing up with the passion for the practice I once had.
An unexpected three-week absence in November kept me away from practicing and teaching due to work travel, vacation, and the passing of my grandfather.
Although I always felt anxious energy before teaching, especially when subbing classes that were filled with students with “expectations” I felt I had to meet, the longer I stayed out of the yoga room, the less I wanted to return. After my fourth week away from yoga, I realized that it wasn’t an option to turn and walk away…
It had become clear that the distance I put between myself and yoga was my way of avoiding my deeper insecurities about teaching.
I had to start talking. I had to start practicing. I had to jump back in with the same two feet I used when this journey began. Once I did, I realized I had turned into a yoga teacher first and a yoga student second, an equation that was all wrong.
It is my obligation as a teacher to continue to learn as a student: to feel the poses and movement in my own body, to watch the breath move through me, and take the energy off of my mat to help with navigating life’s twists and turns. The answer was to never back away from something I loved out of fear, but rather fall back in love with something I felt I had lost.
The magic of yoga had been there all along, but as a new teacher, I hadn’t realized that it would need additional time and attention to find and feel. I needed to make a greater effort to take classes taught by my own teachers. I needed to try harder to drop into my space on my mat (uninterrupted). And I needed to revisit the love I felt for a practice I started 10 years ago.
While balancing life with a full-time job, a husband, and an insane love for travel, I continue to focus on my teaching. Repeating these mantras help me work through self-doubt and insecurities:
- I am first a student, then a teacher.
- I am willing to make mistakes.
- I do not know everything, and that is okay.
- I am authentically me.
- I am worthy.
- I am enough.
And so I continue on this incredible journey, now with a bit more clarity and a lot more compassion both for myself and for my practice: to love, to learn, to teach.
Allison discovered yoga in 2005 in Pittsburgh during college. It was the heat and energy of Power Yoga that drew her into the practice. Growing up as an athlete in a home where fitness was a family priority, Allison focused on running, completing four marathons since 2006. She continued to use yoga during her training, but started noticing the calming benefits that it brought into her life and relationships. After moving to Conshohocken in 2009, she connected with a Vinyasa Flow style practice, which satisfied the need for exercising the body, mind, and breath. Allison completed the Beyond Asana Yoga Teacher Training in 2014 and traveled to Malawi with her fellow teacher trainees to build a school in the Mchereka Village through the organization buildOn. This experience inspires Allison every single day and is reflected in her classes and her teaching style. She taps into the love, happiness, and sense of community of this special village in Africa in order to build confidence in her students and allow for a fun, creative, and energetic experience on the mat. Allison lives in Conshohocken with her husband, James. Together, they strive to live a life filled with good health, yoga, family, friends, and traveling the world. Allison currently teaches weekly at Yoga Home in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.