Updated: Sep 3
By Ishvari Olivia Belanger
When I finally confronted my imposter syndrome, I had already been teaching yoga for 6 years. I was quietly haunted by the fear of being exposed as a fake. I nearly felt paranoid about it, but I now realize that this fear is common among yoga teachers. I believed that more training would make me feel less like a fake. However, after hundreds of hours of training, I realized that my issue was not a lack of education, but rather a lack of confidence in myself. I had a breakthrough moment during a retreat that focused on embodiment and shifted my focus away from relying solely on accumulated knowledge to trusting my own lived experience and direct insight.
What is imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a feeling of inability to believe in the legitimacy of your insight, skills or talents. Imposter syndrome can manifest as anxiety, doubt, fear or lack of confidence. If you as a yoga teacher hold a subtle belief that you are an imposter, your students will feel equally uneasy and may even become distrustful of you. This feeling is born in the gap between intellectual knowledge and lived experience. Knowledge without embodied experiential understanding is just empty words and phrases.
Embodied & Empowered
Embodiment is the greatest resource in moving from imposter to empowered. Embodying who you are in this moment, and letting go of who you think you should be. It’s useless to accumulate more knowledge until you’ve digested and embodied what you’ve already learned. For example, in your yoga training, you probably learned that the word Yoga translates as union, but have you experienced this union? Can you describe it from your experience?
You don’t need more training, you need to embody what you’ve already learned
Since experiencing that breakthrough moment, I have developed a more astute sense of discernment to navigate my inner world. I can now more easily differentiate between passing thoughts or emotions and what is genuine.
Dissolving imposter syndrome is a spiritual process because it compels you to move from the intellectual mind, into the realm of the body and ultimately the heart. This is how you learn how to discern what is true, and how to trust your intuition and feel into what is
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
It's important to stay true to yourself and your level of experience in your practice. Don't feel pressured to teach what you’re not familiar with. Remember that everyone's journey is unique, so focus on your own experiences when teaching. Be honest with yourself and others, and don't hesitate to admit when you don't have the answer to a question. Give yourself grace and acknowledge that we're all still learning. Recognize your limitations and be transparent about them.
My breakthrough happened to me in a retreat. Retreats are like greenhouses for our spiritual practice, they expedite our growth in a contained and intentional space. Retreats are powerful spaces to deepen and concretize our insights and understanding, with entire days devoted to marinating and embodying in teachings.
Join us for our upcoming retreat! Click to learn more.