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Letter of Support: Yoga is Meant to Break You


Dear Will,

I am writing to you because I am in day four of a five-week yoga teacher training intensive, and all of my sh*t has come up. I have cried every day, and I feel exposed, terrified and freaked out since embarking on this journey. I have wondered if I have it in me to keep going.

I am writing to you because I just read your blog “Don’t Move the Way Fear Makes you Move” and something in me shifted, as though it flipped a switch and brought me home. But I still have about four weeks to go. Help!

Signed, At My Edge

Dear Edge,

I know the teacher training is exhausting, freaky, too much, and overwhelming, but that is exactly how it should be—in a loving, supportive, strong environment. I appreciate you sharing your experiences with me.

I'll be blunt: yoga is meant to break us. Like the shell of a seed, yoga first takes us to our edge, and then cracks us open, hopefully gently if we have good teachers, but cracked nonetheless, and we are forever changed. Parts of us are shattered and this is a very good thing. We find that we are nothing but our center, our spirit, our yoke (yoga is translated to mean “yoke.”) It sounds like you are off to a really good start.

You will get stronger. Physically and mentally, you will get stronger. You will use this experience in all that you do in your future, both as a human being, as a lover, and as a teacher if you choose to teach. It all just keeps adding up, and it’s all interrelated.

Stay conscious of it all, no matter what. Stay awake and aware as to what motivates you, especially if that motivation is to run away. Be the great observer, the witness to who you are right now. In time, it all adds up as wisdom: a life lived consciously and compassionately for yourself, for those around you, and now more than ever, for our planet. What used to not matter, will now matter. What used to matter, will no longer matter. You will awaken, slowly.

I know that this experience will allow you to expand your capacity to love and to simply be the true you. That is the real gift, of course, and this is always closer to us than we think.

We see the world not the way it is, but the way we are. And as you grow and change, the world will grow and change with you. This is why it is important to constantly ask who am I becoming? as we engage in this ancient practice. But it’s not really the practice of perfecting postures that is vital. It is you, your spirit, your awareness—who you are in those postures—that matters.

Keep up the powerful work. Have faith. Where you are is perfect. Show up where you are and use what you have in that moment, without obsessing about being someone else’s idea of perfect. Perfect is being able to listen to your inner truth. Always remember that the real guru is your spirit—that still, small voice that keeps calling you onward and upward.

You have everything you need and you always have—yoga teacher training just tries to support you in digging deeper so you can remember this now rather than later.

Namaste, Will

Will Donnelly

Will Donnelly is a nationally recognized, certified yoga teacher and writer, and is the author of “Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People: Essays & Inspiration for Life" (2017), a compilation of his most popular online essays now available at Will has been a pioneer in the field of yoga, developing Practical Yoga, and co-creating a yoga–reality series for fitTV (Discovery Communications, 2004). As a writer and teacher, Will encourages all students to trust their impulses and find their true voice. Will currently lives in Hawaii, where he leads weekly yoga and writing classes at Kalani retreat center. He also leads several popular Practical Yoga adventure and healing retreats throughout the year. Information on retreats, his book, DVDs and other inspiration to be found at

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