I remember stepping off my yoga mat one afternoon about a year ago, realizing that this was a practice I wanted to be able to share with others.
After traveling to the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas in January 2016, I fell in love with yoga, a practice that consists of much more than simply physical postures.
I dreamed of completing my training in the Bahamas and tried everything I could to go back and become certified.
However, dropping all of my responsibilities (school, work, family, etc.) for a month didn’t seem plausible, or even possible to me at the time. So I put it off.
After receiving a grant from my college for completing a research paper on meditation and yoga this past summer, I thought, what could be more appropriate than spending that money on my yoga teacher training?
I began researching studios in the city and came across Three Sisters Yoga.
I emailed the assistant director to sign up for a sample class and mistakenly sent the email from my student email address.
Turns out, the assistant director graduated from my college.
I attended the sample class a few weeks later, check in hand, not having researched any other studios to the extent I did this one because something felt right.
The moment I stepped into the studio, I knew what I was doing was right. I knew this was where I was supposed to be.
Before the class even started, I eagerly handed over my check and committed to the Winter 2018 Yoga Teacher Training.
Six weeks and two hundred hours flew by.
From what I can recall off of the top of my head, we learned about the practice of yoga and the different postures, the yogic philosophy, read the Yoga Sutras and The Bhagavad-Gita (for the third time), went over proper alignment for postures, discussed anatomy and physiology, how to develop and create classes, the taxes involved and how to build a business, meditation, Ayurveda, and so much more.
My body was sore for weeks, in places I didn’t know could get sore, and I probably stretched more than I had when I was competitively running (oops!)
I woke up too early and stayed up too late, laughed way too much and cried just enough.
I met 15+ beautiful humans who were strangers a little more than six weeks ago, who I now consider family.
While the lessons we learned regarding yoga were second to none, I learned a lot more about myself than I thought possible.
Yoga teacher training gave me a safe space to explore my thoughts, my feelings, and my body.
And while I don’t necessarily believe I had any sort of breakthrough, a lot of things have changed.
I set an overall intention, before beginning training, to always be willing to remain in and surrender to the present moment and keep in mind that this is something I am doing for myself.
I went into training with an open mind and no expectations, embracing the not-knowing, mostly with the intention of attending the training for six weeks, becoming certified, and going on my way.
Instead, I gained endless amounts of knowledge and took away tons of tools I can bring back to my own practice. I made 15 new like-minded, life-long friends, who I now consider family, or my sangha.
And I was forced to explore parts of myself I normally avoid.
I circled back to the same experiences over and over again, until I began to heal and grow through them.
I was forced to embrace these thoughts and feelings, while also being open to listening to the thoughts, ideas, and memories of others.
Yoga teacher training taught me that every seemingly solo act are actually team efforts.
And while I learned so much about the lives of others, I also learned so much about myself.
I have also always intended to be a writer full-time and continue on to graduate school immediately after completing my undergraduate degree.
However, my thoughts and feelings have changed towards that– and I am open and willing to go whichever way my path leads me.
I know that I will do the right things in the right places, and as long as I believe in myself, I know I will be successful regardless of the route I take.
My yoga teacher training sparked an inward journey that I will continue on for the rest of my life.
From here on in, on and off the mat, I intend to always surrender to the present moment, be open to challenges, mentally and physically.
And I always intend on being open to growth and encouraging the growth of others.
It’s hard to not judge a book by its cover. Or not go into something new without expectations.
It’s not easy to keep an open mind. Or to embrace the not-knowing.
But I have grown and I am growing. I am breathing and I am living. And I am still learning and always will be.
I have hope for the world and the people living in it, all because of the people I met through yoga teacher training.
Each and every single one of the beautiful, wonderful souls who I embarked on my journey with are changing the world one step at a time, in their own little way.
I have learned that we are all bruised and messy and all beautifully alive.
I have fallen in love with each and every one of the students in my training and am so lucky to have connected with each of them in a unique way.
Because of them, I have become aware that there are safe spaces in this world. There are good people in this world.
While delving into my own physical and spiritual practice, I was able to support the inward and outward journey of others, while also being supported.
If so much love and so much light can be radiated from a single group of humans, this love and the light can be spread throughout the world.
I have expanded, and I have learned to embrace my fellow students, teachers, and my community.
We are all souls within bodies. We are reflections of divinity traveling through the human experience within this fragile form of flesh and skin.
If anything can make you feel isolated, it is the world.
But I found a home within the arms of strangers who turned into my family in a matter of seconds.
This journey made me feel infinite. And overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of being fully alive.
Yoga teacher training tested me.
I was broken and humbled.
My ability to hold postures, remember cues and Sanskrit terms, to focus, to speak aloud in front of others and my will was all tested.
I second guessed myself so many times. There were even times I wanted to walk out.
But I didn’t walk out. I stayed present.
Not only do I feel stronger physically, I also feel stronger mentally and emotionally.
My newfound awareness regarding alignment has helped take my practice to another level.
My stronger sense of physical and mental awareness is teaching me how to go through life without getting hurt.
To walk more mindfully.
To run more mindfully.
I am learning to predict the abilities of my body and the abilities of my thoughts.
I was stretched and strengthened.
Yoga teacher training has filled my heart with so much abundance and so much gratitude.
I feel as if I am finally content with the person I am and the person I am becoming.
Through learning about the way my body and my mind work, I now believe that I have the ability to change what needs to be changed.
The act of becoming aware is the most powerful tool for transformation.
I have also gained a clearer understanding of the way my mind works, and I have walked away with a deeper sense of who I am.
Through practice teaching, I have learned how to communicate, and how effective communicating can be when we want to express something.
I can now translate my thoughts and feelings more effectively.
I can be the best lover, the best daughter, the best friend.
Through stumbling my words, forgetting cues, I am mastering the art of picking myself up and continuing on.
I have gained confidence in my abilities, and have walked away with a new sense of how much I can do.
I am now sitting comfortably in my own skin.
Yoga teacher training is a life-changing experience.
It is an inward and an outward journey.
And when it calls you, go for it.
I believe that you can never truly prepare for yoga teacher training.
The best thing we can do is give ourselves to the moment and remember that not only are you a teacher, but you are a student, first and foremost, forever and always.
My heart is now more fuller than ever with abundance and gratitude.
And I still have yet to realize how much I have learned and how much I have changed.
I am alive, and I am so grateful, thankful, blessed, and proud to say I am not only a human, being;
I am a yoga teacher, And I am a student first.
Thank you Three Sisters Yoga, and all of new friends for giving me the space to learn and grow.
And congrats to my family– we made it.