Learning to Love

I learned a lot during yoga teacher training. Ok, that’s actually an understatement. I learned A TON. It was one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had, and I mean that in the best way possible.

One of the first things I learned? Don’t start a blog right before starting teacher training – you just won’t have time to keep up with it. Obviously, as I haven’t updated it since week 1. That’s ok though. This blog is a learning process for me so at least I got a good lesson out of it, right?

Anyway, I decided that I probably need to spend more than one blog post writing about what I learned because there’s honestly so much that I got out of teacher training. Otherwise, this post will turn into a novel and no one wants to read a novel-length blog post.

I’ll start with the personal stuff. I had NO idea going into yoga teacher training that I’d learn so much about who I am and what I want and what I need in order to be happy and fulfilled. Seriously. No idea. I figured I’d go into teacher training and learn a heck of a lot about yoga and that’d be it. Some history, some anatomy, lots of poses and adjustments. But I probably learned most about myself during the process. It has changed me more than I knew was possible, and that’s no exaggeration. Continue reading

Week 1 of Teacher Training: Feels Like Om

Well I’ve finished one week of teacher training. Just finished, actually. And I have so many thoughts running through my head. They’re all positive. Every single one of them.

If you haven’t been through yoga teacher training before, here’s a pretty basic rundown of what I’ll be doing for the next couple months:

  • Group meetings three times per week
  • Plenty of yoga classes when I’m not in training
  • Relevant reading
  • Writing assignments
  • Journaling about my experiences

To say I’ll be in yoga often is an understatement. I’ll be in yoga all the time. But I knew that when I signed up for TT, and I’m so excited to make yoga such a priority.

So what did week 1 look like? The first meeting starting with some intro stuff, but we jumped right into both practice and philosophy. We talked a lot about what yoga actually is (outside of the dictionary definition, of course), and I got a chance to hear from the rest of my group about why they love yoga and why they’re doing teacher training. The answers are honestly as varied as the people. Some are relatively new to yoga and are only training for their personal development; others have been practicing for along time and actually want to teach; still others are doing it for personal reasons but may want to teach someday, too. What we all have in common is a serious love for yoga and a desire to learn more.

Anyway. When we weren’t talking philosophy we were learning practical stuff. We spent a long time on chaturanga dandasana since it’s such an important pose. We talked about proper alignment and where it builds strength and then practiced it—over and over and over again. My arms are definitely tired today. We also focused on alignment for other basic postures.

And then, to my serious surprise, we started practicing teaching. I didn’t think we’d get there the first week, but I guess it makes sense. What better way to learn yoga than to teach it to someone else? We only paired up and taught one other person, but it definitely gave me a whole new respect for yoga teachers. There’s just so much to know, to remember, to say! It’ll definitely take some practice before I can remember all of that, but I’m just so grateful to be a part of yoga teacher training that I want to do all of the work I know is ahead of me so that I get as much out of this as I possibly can.

Walking into teacher training, I was super nervous about my place in the group. After only one week together, I know I made the right choice to train the minute I decided I was ready, regardless of my actual physical skill. I’m ready to learn, I have an open heart, and I feel like I’ve added a new family to my life. I feel like I’m home.

Have you been through yoga teacher training? What did you think? If you haven’t done it, are you thinking about it?

On to Teacher Training

While still in Indiana, I practiced yoga almost every day as I prepared to leave teaching and move to Denver with my other half and our dog. My stress was, somehow, more manageable. The minute students left, I started counting down the minutes until I could be back on my mat again. I’d find soothing music, roll out my mat, and follow flows from ebooks or sometimes I’d just make up my own. They probably weren’t pretty, but they were mine. Also, no one else was watching so it was easy to be messy. It was so easy to get lost in practice, and yoga quickly became a focal point of my life. When I wasn’t practicing, I was reading about yoga or looking at studios in Denver until I found one that fit what I wanted.

It was around the time that I found the studio I thought would work for me that I also started to toy with the idea of eventually going into teacher training. I love helping people learn, even if it isn’t in the traditional classroom setting, so I figured combining my newfound love of yoga with my love of learning could be a good fit someday. I also assumed teacher training would be a good way to deepen my practice. Kind of on a whim, I filled out an info request form, assuming it’d be forever until anything actually came of it. I was wrong about that one. I heard back from a teacher in the Denver area almost immediately. When I connected with her on the phone, we talked for almost an hour. I started by asking her about teacher training—cost, duration, requirements,etc.—but I ended up also learning about her own journey to yoga. She had experienced quite a lot before she found yoga, and I was truly moved by what her practice and training had done for her. I’m don’t remember exactly what she said anymore, but her willingness to share and her own experiences pushed me to decide to train as soon as I could get into their 200-hour YTT program.

Of course, being married I couldn’t simply sign myself up without first talking to my husband. So I told him about that phone conversation. It only took me rambling on with probably too much emotion talking about it one time for him to recognize my passion and push me to sign myself up for the training starting in October. I asked over and over again if he was sure, he reassured me constantly, and I signed up almost the minute I arrived in Denver. Training starts this week, and while I’ve had second thoughts and worries that I’m still not experienced enough, I’ve pushed away those insecurities. Teacher training is coming, and I’m approaching it with an open mind and an open heart. Yoga’s changed my life already—I can’t wait to see what else it has in store.

At Squaw Pass

Fall at Squaw Pass

Why Yoga?

I’ve been an active person my whole life. That doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled with my weight (I have) or have always been consistent (I haven’t)—but I have been active in one way or another. I started figure skating when I was really little, played soccer until I was 17, and started running off and on after college. At one point, I was even regularly going to Pilates. The only thing that actually did stay constant was my inconsistency once I quit soccer. I’d pick something up and drop it soon after, swayed by the next new exercise fad.

It was through all of my fitness ADD exploration that I ended up in a yoga class at a YMCA while in high school. Right away, I saw yoga was something special. As a chronic worrier with a then undiagnosed anxiety disorder, yoga provided at least a temporary vacation from my concerns. I didn’t keep at it then because I was still so young and unfocused and went to college (Hello, shiny new exercise trend! Hi food!), but whenever I’d find myself worrying, I’d think about those first yoga classes again.

Fast forward through more fitness fads to an apartment in Indiana post-college. I found yoga again. I bought DVDs and a nicer yoga mat. It still isn’t constant, but my experience with yoga lasted longer this time and got me a bit further into my practice.

Press that fast forward button again to my final year of teaching high school English. For what I hope is my final time “finding” yoga, I rolled out my mat as a way to deal with the stress I experienced on a daily basis in a job I wasn’t quite suited for. This time, I downloaded an e-book by @jessicaolie, a strong and inspiring yogi on Instagram. The book provides stretches and flows to help anyone get started with their practice. For the first time, I actually practiced on my own, without a DVD, and it was totally liberating. There were afternoons where I ended up practicing for hours before my husband got home. Time would just get away from me when I practiced. I started to see progress quickly. My flexibility improved, my strength improved, and, most importantly, my mental health started to improve. I was hooked.

Yoga Mat and StrapWhile I was getting more flexible and stronger and healthier, I also started to heal. I had wounds, internal ones, that I had ignored for so long. Actually, I’m not sure I even really knew they were there. But yoga forced me to confront things buried deep inside and deal with them, and that confrontation allowed me to heal. There was uncertainty and there were tears, but after awhile, I finally found the sort of tranquility I figured only really existed in books and movies. With each deep breath, I became more comfortable and happier with myself. With each step onto my mat, I learned to love myself more, which in turn allowed me to really love others. And while I’m not finished with this journey yet (Are we ever truly finished?), I do know that I’m more at peace than I’ve ever been, and that’s really something.