“There goes my social life,” was my first thought after leaving my yoga training orientation.
As a 22-year-old recent college graduate, being told that I would be training from 7-10 on Friday nights, 9-5 on Saturdays, and would need to attend at least six yoga classes a week, I began to calculate the toll all of this would take on my free time—and by free time I mean drinking with friends, partying, lounging, etc.
On top of all that, we were to follow a dietary guideline, which would keep our metabolism up during our eight-week program, which I was totally on board with. But when my teachers said, “We aren’t saying you can’t drink, but you probably shouldn’t,” I realized my social life was about to diminish. All my friends and I did was go out bar-hop, embracing being legal, young, and free.
I was slightly worried about where this training was going to take me.
The first week was rough, physically and mentally. I ended up drinking a bit too much the night before our official day of training, and immediately regretted it the next day. I took note that I could not get away with being hungover in yoga training like I could in college and moved on.
After the second week, I didn’t drink, went to a class everyday, did my homework, and didn’t see any of my friends.
After a few weeks I began to realize that most of my friendships were totally based on going out and getting drunk. I started confiding in my fellow trainees, complaining about how I was losing friendships, and how I felt I was changing into a person I myself didn’t even recognize. During training I became the most self-aware I have ever been. I knew what I wanted, I never questioned my actions, and I could make clear and concise decisions. I wasn’t the unsure 22-year-old I had been a month before.
It was not only empowering, but loving.
I had never loved myself so much. During my training it was easy to stay on the yogic path. I had 25 other trainees and two teachers supporting me. However, since training ended, I have begun to feel the contradictory lifestyle I once led becoming prominent again.
I go attend yoga classes five times a week, and the other days I practice at home. I eat healthily, I sleep well, and I work hard. But sometimes I feel myself boiling over with the urge to go out and party with all my friends. I want to get drunk, smoke cigarettes, dance, stay out til the bars close, and stumble into my bed with my make-up on. This hasn’t happened since training ended, but it doesn’t mean that I have completely let go of this lifestyle. I feel myself unsure of how I should be.
There seems to be a war in mind once the weekend rolls around, ranging from “I am a certified yoga instructor, I cannot go out and get wasted,” to, “I’m only 22, I should be going out and getting crazy with my friends!” Usually I end up taking the middle path, and getting a couple drinks with friends, and getting home at a reasonable hour so I can still wake up and go to a yoga class.
Although I have found my happy medium, I realize that I need to let go of the constant guilt and stop being so critical of myself.
I am 22. I am allowed to make mistakes. I’m still discovering myself, and thankfully yoga has helped me begin my journey to this discovery. I might mess up, I might drink too much one night, or smoke a cigarette, or drunk-dial an ex-boyfriend, but that doesn’t make me less of a person, and it certainly doesn’t make me less of a yoga teacher.
I try and instill that self-love I felt during training every day. I know I can get back to that self-aware, self-assured person I was, but in order to do so, I need to let go of criticizing the parts of me that make me the person I am.
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Assistant Editor: Claire Weber/Editor: Bryonie Wise
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