I am a fraud.

Is there anyone in the world who hasn’t said (shouted, blared, trumpeted) this to themselves at some point? I’m not asking this rhetorically but am genuinely curious about whatever lucky species of human is out there that hasn’t at some point in their life felt like a fraud. Does such a one exist?

As I sit to write this first official blog post, the fraud feeling sits on my shoulders. I have never done this before, and already the pit-of-the-stomach questions lurk: Is this even relevant? Do people still read blogs? Am I a phoney-baloney? But as my dear friend B reminded me on an excellent FB post this week, I should:

So here goes.

When I first started teaching yoga in 2003, I was so in love with it that it never dawned on me to feel like a fraud. I was sharing something beautiful! It was profound and affirming, and so freaking hard and still somehow relaxing. I taught those early classes in a sweaty, smelly, padded wrestling room in the basement of NYU’s Coles Gymnasium, now demolished in the name of development. Full disclosure here, I wasn’t even certified when I started! But things like that didn’t matter quite as much back then. I loved yoga and knew enough, so by God I taught it! And honestly, those were some of the most joy-filled classes of my whole teaching career.

Ironically, the fraud-y feelings didn’t come until many years and many yoga certifications later. It started slowly but then picked up momentum. As I taught, words that once felt illuminating as they came out of my mouth started to feel like play-acting, like I was just repeating the same phrases, the same cues, the same cheesy jokes and cliches that a thousand other teachers had before me: In yoga, practice doesn’t “make” perfect; practice is perfect! I mean, it’s true and all, but really? That ain’t me.

There are few things worse than losing your voice. And I don’t mean laryngitis, although that certainly sucks too, but I am mean your voice. I am from Tennessee, but have virtually no southern accent at all. People remark on this often, as though it is some sort of compliment. Little do they know that it makes me so very sad. Like I have lost something sweet that I didn’t even know I had. As a writer, too, I struggle to “find my voice.” One that feels real and authentic and not a re-hashed version of someone else.

I think I will try to use the fraud feeling as a driver, steering me towards a voice that feels more like who I really am. And I will also try not to beat up on whatever voice comes out in the mean time, even if it doesn’t feel so much like me. Maybe it is just a shell. Or a chrysalis. Or snake skin I need to shed. Snakes don’t resent their former skin, do they? Nor do they try to hang onto it.

Lauren Hale Biniaris has been teaching yoga since 2003 in gyms, studios, and privately to students of all ages, levels, and physical needs. She holds yoga certifications at both the 200 and 500 hour levels as well as in prenatal yoga and mommy and me. Lauren is also a dancer, choreographer, and writer and holds degrees from Brown University and NYU.