Inspire Me, Inspire You

As I anticipate my start date for the Yoga Immersion and Teacher Training, I notice a range of thoughts and feelings swirling around in my head.
First off, I’m excited! I can’t wait to deepen my knowledge of yoga, especially from Instructor, Susan Lynn Whitmarsh. Sue has been a good friend of mine since she moved to Chelsea Michigan, from England, thirteen years ago. Throughout that time, I have witnessed Sue’s yoga transformation. Starting out as a yoga skeptic, she quickly progressed into a beginning student. Eager for more yoga, she developed a healthy obsession for it, which led her to become a yoga teacher and train in other advanced modalities. With all that education, she transitioned to the next step, the crown jewel, yoga studio owner. While currently adding yoga teacher trainer to her bio, I definitely want to be part of the inaugural class! 

“What’s that you say? At age 51 you’re going to become a yoga teacher?” As I move from feeling excited to doubt, my inner critic voice begins to creep in. “Kinda old to be doing the training, don’t ya think?” I push those thoughts aside, I mean, so what if my AARP card came in the mail yesterday? Aren’t we as old as we feel?

I decide to check in on my parents as a bit of a diversion.  We had been having sub zero temperatures this winter and even though they only live five minutes away, I wanted to see them. So I put on my warmest coat, gloves and hat, and drove over to their condo.  Several years ago, my mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease, which is dementia and Parkinson’s disease combined. She still maintains her easy-going personality and sense of humor, remaining mostly cognizant. The biggest issue my mom has is frequent trouble with getting her words out, it can be slow. My communication with her has evolved into what feels like a game of charades. Fortunately, I happen to love playing games. As I walk in, my mom looks at me and without any pause or stoppage whatsoever, clearly states, “You look like an old lady with that hat on. Don’t wear it.” Her unexpected and clear comment, brought me back to that inner critic again, “Wow, cool, maybe I AM too old to teach yoga?”

When I arrive home my 14 year-old daughter, Julia, is home from school. One of her homework assignments is to interview me about my career path. I give a brief history of how I was a hairstylist and salon owner for a number of years before I became a life coach and yoga teacher to children and teens. Julia asks, “What do you like most about teaching yoga to kids?”  As I begin to give a quick answer to the question, she gets interrupted with a call from her friend and leaves the room.  Now I have time to ponder and go deeper for the answer. 
I am inspired by the practice of yoga, at all stages. With the elementary school yogis, I watch them try all the poses without being embarrassed or comparing themselves to each other. They also bring me great joy when they join each other in partner poses, partnering with anyone, without trepidation. 
In the studio, inspiration runs wild. There are yogis that have been practicing many years and their poses are reliably beautiful each time, motivating me to always try again. 
Then there are yogis who are dealing with health issues, chronic illness, muscle strains, and emotional pain. Their practice might look different day to day but no matter what, they continue to show up. They motivate me with their examples of determination and commitment. 
I find inspiration from the novice yogi too. They bring so much excitement and enthusiasm to the studio. I appreciate sharing in their discovery and welcoming them to the yoga community.

Julia, back from her call, forgets where she was in the interview and brings up the teacher training I am preparing to do. She actually starts by saying, “Mom, I am so proud of you. Thanks for being the best mom ever and the most awesome role model I could possibly ask for. You inspire me, I love you!” 
I was caught off guard by her comments, I mean, she is a teen-ager. But Julia is also sincere and her words touched me deeply.
“Inner critic, you can take a nice long meditative hike. Because I am definitely doing the training now, no doubt about it!”
Who inspires you? I encourage you to ponder that question. Once you know, acknowledge the individual, it might change their life. It’s definitely special to be told that you inspire another person. Who might you inspire, even when you don’t realize it? It just might be me and I am grateful, from the bottom of my heart.

This blog post was originally published for Breathe Yoga, Chelsea, MI.
Photo by Kate Zurenko

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