This week, our friendly neighborhood UPS carrier delivered two shipments of two books each to my house: my Teach For America pre-institute reading, and my yoga teacher training reading. Like most people in the world, I love new books and am especially psyched when I’m given the opportunity to read and share my thoughts about it with others (seriously, why do we not appreciate high school while we’re there?) and I’m almost finished with the first one I picked up out of that stack, Baron Baptiste’s Journey Into Power.
As someone whose head is constantly filled with thoughts about yoga, I’m enjoying reading someone else’s thoughts on the matter for once. Just as it was when I began running, I don’t have a lot of people I can talk to about yoga. I do have friends who practice every now and then and I’m getting to know more and more people in the yoga community here in Nashville (including the owner of Yoga Harmony, who comes from the same Pittsburgh township as my husband and in-laws!) but mostly, I ramble about it to Ryan, who is patient but often confused about what I mean.
When I read Journey Into Power, it’s like I’m reading my own thoughts, but organized coherently and straightforwardly written for once. It’s inspirational to know that someone else’s experience on their mat is so similar to mine – no complicated Sanskrit mantras, no glorified gurus whose philosophies are too difficult to understand, just a person trusting their own inner, authentic self. I realize this all sounds very Oprah, but trust me, it’s not. No offense, Oprah. (She’s always watching.)
There was a time in my not-too-distant past when I was deeply confused about the sudden direction my life had taken and needed help. My friends, who I realize were only trying to help, gave me their favorite self-help books, and I read them. (Note: this is something you must understand about me: I love people and their gifts. If you give me an article of clothing, no matter how I look in it, I’ll wear it until it falls apart. Give me a tote bag and I’ll make excuses to tote things around the city for years. Give me a book, I’ll read it, cover to cover, whether it’s about vampires or fly fishing or both.) This period was the first time I really understood the attitudes towards the self-help industry: what I was reading was corny and offensively generic – just because I was a girl who had broken up with a boy, all I needed was positive thinking, a cocktail night with the girls, and a good long shopping spree to cure me, according to these authors.
Anyone who knows me knows that this is ridiculous advice for me (I put myself through college, so spending hard-earned money does very little to calm my nerves, especially if I’m spending it on something as temporary as a cocktail) so I took note of how other people must solve their own problems and moved on. My own problems did not seem to work themselves out until I began to acknowledge that nothing was wrong with me.
Baptiste seems to write about the same phenomenon, making this the most relatable “self-help” book (and I say that generously, because all yoga is self-help) I’ve ever read. I’m looking forward to getting to share more experiences and learn more about myself and others as this teacher training progresses. Only 18 more days until our first weekend!