By Liz Gluckstern
The day has finally come that I can call myself a registered yoga teacher! Amazing! It has been equally exciting, but also challenging, to discover what misconceptions come with my new title. The public assumption is that yogis eat granola, chant “OM,” and smile a lot. Well, that’s true. But people often also believe I can answer medical questions, I’ve become vegan, and I can stand on my head. That’s not true. Despite these common stereotypes, yoga instructors are normal people with fears on and off the mat.
When I was asked to write a short piece for Health Unbreaded, I panicked. Of course I wanted to write about my love for this practice, but fear debilitated me. Will the post be funny? Could I unintentionally turn people away from yoga? After yoga school, I thought I was ready for any challenge. It turns out that fear got the best of this yogi! Then I remembered that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to “fear no more.” I had to take my own advice and start writing. After all, I may have something decent to say!
Yoga is about letting go: it’s about finding the surrender in the most intense moments. So I say, surrender to your fears! Look them in the eye. Confess your fears in the mirror. Write them down on paper. Admit that something scares you. Practice naming by acknowledging the fear, repeating it, and releasing it.
Let the New Year motivate you. Make a game plan. Write a due date in your calendar and stick to it. Stop ordering take out by February 1st. No seriously, stop eating greasy food, it’s bad for you. The power is in you! Be honest and ask for help. Your loved ones will be happy to help you overcome a fear.
Start small. Take on one of your less overwhelming fears (such as cooking that seasonal vegetable you saw at Whole Foods) and let the success of overcoming this fear help you tackle larger fears. Remember that fear is just a feeling and feelings come and go. One minute you may really want to finish the bag of peanut butter M&Ms, and the next minute you don’t. Or wait, is that just me?
Envision yourself without that fear. Is there a new lightness in your chest? Do your shoulders drop down? Do you stand a bit taller? Visualize a less fearful you and be patient with yourself. These life changes take time, but they are worth it.
My last recommendation is to breathe. Breathe in and breathe out. Repeat. Breathe into this openness and think of fear in a new way. F.E.A.R. For Everything Already Resides. The strength is within you, it always has been.
So, as I sit here pouring my heart out to you, I realize, I just did it! I just wrote this article, and it wasn’t daunting. In fact, it was fun! I visualized myself as a yogi with an outstanding online resume and this moved me forward.
And in terms of standing on my head, I’m still totally afraid of doing a handstand in the middle of the room and breaking my neck. I am, however, gradually conquering my fear by moving further away from the wall of my apartment.
Liz Gluckstern lives, works, and stays fit in New York City. After completing a triathlon and half marathon, she was looking for a new challenge and discovered “asana,” the physical practice of yoga and found that it connected her mind and body and kept her inspired each day. Raised by a dietitian, Liz continues to advocate for eating balanced meals and now recommends an “ayurvedic” diet, which encourages one to eat foods based on their “dosha” or body/personality type. Since becoming an accredited yoga instructor, Liz is focusing on sharing her love and passion for yoga with the borough of Manhattan and beyond. She believes that remaining positive, encouraging truth, and that using “pranayama” to control your breath will lead everyone to live a happier and healthier life!
If you live in the NYC area, Liz is teaching a Vinyasa yoga class, open to the community, on Thursday, January 16, 2014, 2:30 PM-3:45 PM at Laughing Lotus located on 636 Sixth Avenue, 3rd Floor. Entrance is on 19th Street. You can find more details here.
Email Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org