Stressing About Yoga Isn’t Yoga – Thoughts on Teacher Training

I am learning. I am evolving. I am growing but I am also stressing myself out a lot with YTT, yoga teacher training. Stressing about yoga isn’t yoga. I am rushing around from place to place, class to class, meeting to meeting, from one responsibility to the next, one deadline to another. I hit a wall figuratively, then literally, a few weeks ago. I had to take a mental step back and ask myself why I am running at this pace. I started to neglect my growing work responsibilities to do yoga homework. Not good. I now sit to reflect why I decided to take this training in the first place. At no point was my conscious intention to feel overloaded, exhausted and completely stressed. Just the opposite was my goal.

I run a business and like many other entrepreneurs, I wear many hats. It is not a fortune 500 company but it is my baby. When I signed up for YTT, my business was steady, but slow. I have “people” doing a lot of the daily operational work and I simply would poke the fire from time to time and make sure the bills are paid and business was coming in. A charmed life I lead. I was seriously bored and found myself spending a lot of time goofing off, messing around on the Internet and searching for something stimulating. Since my business was not resonating with me, I decided I would try something new. I knew yoga teaching could not, in all likelihood, replace my executive salary but it could be a fulfilling supplement and great stimulation. Enter YTT, yoga teacher training. I thought submerging myself in YTT & yoga would be the ticket to greater fulfillment. I thought I would have plenty of time to devote to training and study since my business was smooth and running on auto-pilot.

Enter Murphy’s Law. In a period of two months, my work commitments increased substantially and my time was at a premium. For the first time in about 2 years, my work started to stimulate me. I am consulting, marketing, preparing for trade shows, learning about advertising, design and so forth. Being invigorated by my work again is a blessing but also seems to be a bit of a curse. I feel overextended and overwhelmed. I’ve fallen into this trap before and digging out of a hole is never pretty. I will not go down again!

YTT is an enormous time commitment. I realize it would take a lot of time when I began but I did not foresee not having the time to devote to it. Unlike my business, YTT does not generate income, pay my mortgage and put food on the table. My latest unhealthy mantra has been “there’s not enough time in the day”. Of course, this is bullshit. Time is not the problem. The lesson here is prioritization and balance and ultimately, choice. I think the universe is trying to drive this message home to me for good. This is a lesson I have been working on since birth. Balance Christa. Balance! Perhaps the lack of balance in my work/study life is the reason my balance asanas are poor? Just watch me in dancers pose. Interesting thought.

Before my “Godsmack” moment in October 2005, I lived in a world of extremes. It was a world of my own making. I realize that now. Living my life in joy and balance was foreign to me. In the last few years, I have experienced the joys of j-o-y and yoga practice, among other things, has minimized the erratic and negative fluctuations in my life, body, mind and spirit. I have found great peace. I am so very thankful for it. Thank you, God!

Now with YTT and my work, I find myself face to face with the balance challenge once again. I realize consciously I have the choice to press ahead and stress or make adjustments to keep myself healthy in mind. How do I proceed? Great question. I am not sure. Do I look for the answer myself and dig, chart, make lists and plan until I’m cross-eyed OR put the question to the universe and wait for a divinely inspired answer? I prefer the latter.

In B.K.S. Iyengar’s book Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace and Ultimate Freedom, page 144, Iyengar states: “Do not live in memory. Memory is only the means to know whether we are fully aware and evolving. Never think of yesterday. Only go back if you feel that you are doing something wrong. Use yesterday is experience as a springboard. Living in the past or longing to repeat previous experience will only stagnate intelligence”.

I once read the quote, “Yoga is different every day. Some days just getting to class IS your yoga”. I don’t recall where I read this but I just thought: I might not be doing asana right now, or assisting with a class but I am doing yoga. I am practicing the 2nd Yama of the 8 Limbed Path of Yoga, Satya, truthfulness, as I commit these words to paper. Perhaps I am also touching on the 5th Yama, Brachmacarya, or moderation, or in my case, balance. Thankfully, through all my stress-i-ness I remember to breathe. Pranayama comes in handy when the pressure mounts.

I reviewed my YTT application a few moments ago. In the application I listed what I expected to walk away with from training. I am pleased to report YTT has assisted me in all of the following areas.

A better understanding of myself;

A better understanding of all aspects of yoga, not simply asanas;

A renewed confidence in my physical abilities;

A higher level of physical fitness;

The ability to guide and teach others about yoga;

New friends.

Thankfully, I realize I am evolving. I do not need to RUSH on this yoga path. Yoga is not something we do; it is something we experience. Stressing to obtain a piece of paper is silliness, at least for me. If it takes me longer to finish the program and get my certification, so be it. If I do not get the certification am I a loser? Absolutely not. I am a winner. I have learned so much already. All past experiences are learning experiences. Good, bad or indifferent. Perhaps the YTT program entered my sphere to teach me a greater understanding of balance? Surely, YTT is the springboard for other experiences. Perhaps I am getting the chance, through YTT and a renewed work life, to recognize imbalance and correct it before it pushes me into a pit. I do not choose to relive “old patterns” as Iyengar puts it. Life in pit sucks. I won’t go back!

Whatever the outcome, I am grateful, blessed and refuse to continue to stress about yoga. Stressing about yoga isn’t yoga.

And so I breathe…………………


  1. Check out the web site – it’s not mine, but is where I learned the most important lessons about yoga and life from my teacher, J. Oliver Black (aka Yogacharya Oliver).

  2. Thank you for writing and posting this! My YTT program had a few issues that I have been allowing to cause me stress. Your words have given me what I need to insire me to take some time and reflect on the positive aspects of my YTT, and work on letting go of the rest. Thank you and namaste!

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