Road to Teacher Training 2011

It was three years ago today (3years!) that I submitted an essay to Purple Yoga to be considered for their work/study scholarship for the fall semester of Yoga Teacher Training. I love that I had a a chance to write down my experiences on my yoga journey, at that point I had been practicing for just a year and a half, it’s amazing to see where I was and how far I’ve come. Now I am a teacher, I love teaching yoga, and I think being aware of where I came from really helps me be a better teacher. My hope is to be able to connect with each of my students wherever they are in their practice – helping a beginner build a foundation, just as I had to do. Or encouraging a more experienced practitioner in their challenges and adding new layers and depth to their practice, just as my teachers did for me – especially during teacher training. Just as a personal yoga practice is always evolving, so it is with teaching yoga as well. I’m so glad I found my way to this path, I am so grateful to Purple Yoga and my teachers. Even as I write this they are gearing up for this fall’s Yoga Teacher Training to begin in just one month, and other yogis (perhaps even students of mine!) are preparing for this wonderful experience, and even writing essays of their own, just as I did.

What Yoga Means to Me: Lessons I’ve Learned Along My Path So Far

Aug 4th, 2011

Yoga has become an important part of my life. The past year has been a transformative one, and yoga has been instrumental in this transformation. The things I have learned and the ways I’ve grown have helped me rediscover what I am passionate about. I think that what a person is passionate about is a good indicator of what is best for them to pursue professionally as well. As far back as I remember I’ve wanted to be a teacher. Over the years the subjects which I have desired to teach have changed but I’ve always known I’d love to teach in some capacity and that I have a gift for teaching. I soak up information on subjects that interest me and I love sharing with others what I have learned. Over the past year I have discovered a love of yoga and recognized its positive effect in my life not only in relation to fitness but my whole life. I’ve applied to the yoga teacher training program because I am exited to learn more, continue growing, and share what I know with others in hopes of helping them develop a yoga practice that invites them to grow and to improve their health and sense of peace and wellbeing.

As I alluded to above, I’ve recently experienced a great deal of change. About a year and a half ago my health began a downward spiral. My life had been uprooted and in that shift I became completely out of balance physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My eating habits and stress levels became unhealthy and physical activity grinded to a halt. The outward imbalance internalized into hormonal imbalance and I developed hypothyroidism, PCOS, and insulin resistance. I fell into depression and I gained almost 30 pounds. I was on the brink of becoming diabetic. I knew I needed to get back on track. I also knew that prescription medications and traditional “diet” and fitness advice was not what I needed. Taking a holistic approach to wellness is what makes the most sense to me. I began to read health, wellness, and nutrition books and blogs. I sought out experts in integrative medicine. I experimented with different approaches and tried a lot of new things – one of which was yoga. Slowly but surely I figured out what works best for me and how I need to live: what to eat, how to move my body, manage stress, and tend to my heart and my soul in order to thrive. I was able to reverse the medical conditions I had developed and am now enjoying good health and newfound balance.

Yoga was the prescription I needed to teach me the best way for me to be active, to help manage stress, and to inform and support the mental work I had to do to get healthy. Yoga philosophy challenged my familiar, habitual ways of thinking and acting and helped me change my perceptions, figure out what I believe, and what is truly important to me. One of my favorite recent reads is The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar. This book does an excellent job of discussing the many things that yoga is. Given my experiences, it is no wonder that one definition in particular resonated with me: yoga is change. I love that yoga does not want to force change but rather, as Desikachar wrote, it invites transformation from a place where we first accept where we are and then move in the direction we want to go. Take it step by step, enjoying each step, being present. It is better to be more interested in the process than end results. We can better enjoy life when we are committed to living here and now instead of waiting for some achievement that we’re telling ourselves “I will be happy, or my life will start when….” I learned to detach from expectations and focus on actions themselves. Yet, we are creatures of habit and so it is hard to change. This is why I really like the concept of samskara. Desikachar explains, “samskara is the sum total of all our actions that conditions us to act a certain way.” So the best way to enact change in our lives is to grow and develop new samskara and eventually, almost effortlessly, the old samskara that has been limiting us becomes ineffectual – it gets crowded out by the new, more positive conditioning.

My road back to health has been about changing, but also about finding balance. Desikachar touched on this as he expounded on another definition of yoga that really resonated with me: yoga is unity. Yoga honors the disparate parts of ourselves while fostering unity. The body, the breath and the mind are separate, but with yoga we learn how to balance the three, bringing them together. We learn how to have sthira, how to be steady and alert in a posture, simultaneously with suhka, maintaining ease and comfort in the posture. Finding balance is a dance between all the different aspects of ourselves and everything in our lives where we unify seemingly contradictory or opposing things and find peace in each moment, even amidst the changes and challenges.

My journey into yoga has been so enlightening and I highly value the lessons it has taught me so far. Moreover, there’s something really special about coming to my mat, settling into my breath, feeling and moving through each posture. My personal practice helps me get centered and grounded and more in tune with myself and what is going on with me. Yoga honors me where I’m at. I love that everyone who comes to practice together is at a different level and we’re encouraged to progress at our own pace. We’re told to not force the body, but instead, listen to what it’s telling us and gain greater awareness and understanding. There is no competition in yoga and no comparisons because there is nothing to prove. I love that it’s OK to acknowledge that no two days will be the same; some days we are strong and some days we are wobbly. Most of all, I love that yoga nurtures the whole self, not just the physical. Practicing yoga is not about burning calories, losing weight, or looking a certain way – it doesn’t cater to the ego but rather, helps you shed ego. For those motivated by the superficial, they may find that their yoga practice falls short in helping them achieve their goals. However, those who are motivated by wanting to find wellness, peace, and to enjoy living a healthy and balanced life are likely to find practicing yoga fulfilling.

I realize there is much more to learn and I relish the opportunity that yoga teacher training will provide me to delve deeper. I’m especially excited to learn more about pranayama and strengthen my breath. I want to learn more about the principles behind each posture and be better able to create sequences of poses and counter poses that are uniquely what I need, or what someone else needs and I can help guide them through it. I look forward to reading, studying, reflecting and discussing yoga with people who are excited about it as I am. I believe I will discover even more new perspectives and continue to change and grow, balance and integrate myself. I’d love to be considered for the 100 hour work/study scholarship, I know that working in the studio will add another dimension to my experience and more fully round out my yoga education. I know I would be a great asset at Purple Yoga. I have a servant’s heart and love working with people and have a sincere wish to influence lives in a positive way. I am sincerely grateful for this opportunity to pursue what I am passionate about. I can’t wait to begin the program, to continue along this path and see what is ahead of me just around the bend.


Me and fellow teacher training buddy/ yoga goddess Sandra

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