I started doing yoga as a teenager. I had an easy yoga video that I did in the living room at home. I remember liking it because it seemed like a workout, but it was low-impact so I didn't up feeling too sweaty and gross. I kept doing yoga DVDs for years, until much later when I was around 24 years old and I started going to a Hatha Yoga studio in Oak Harbor, Washington where I lived at the time. It was also around that time that some of my friends told me that I could really challenge myself and start to step up my practice if I looked up yoga on YouTube. Those YouTube videos changed my life. They were much more challenging than what I was used to and I begin to test my strength, trying to get into more difficult postures, and I began to do yoga that really made me sweat.
I had been in love with gentle yoga, but I was enamored of vinyasa yoga, and I never looked back once I started practicing that way. Vinyasa yoga, simply put is yoga that connects the breath to the movement and is intended to flow. There is spirituality, there is strength, there is cardio, and there is a presence on the mat the likes of which I had never felt before. Around the time I discovered YouTube yogis like Erin Motz and Yoga with Adriene, I started thinking about how I had been practicing yoga for years, about how much it had changed my life, and about how good it would probably feel to share that love with others. I began casually looking into what it would take to become a yoga teacher.
It didn't take me long to understand what it would take to become an instructor, but it took me years to actually be able to do a training program. First, yoga teacher training can be expensive and teaching yoga is a labor of love, so you don't make a lot once you are certified. Second, the trainings are intense and require time both in and outside of the classroom. Third, yoga teacher training requires mental preparedness and confidence. I am very classically introverted and I live with a pretty severe mental illness and I found that I was unable to get myself there mentally. It took me over six years to find the right program at what I considered the right time. Through it all, I practiced yoga. I practiced when I was stressed and when I wanted to give up. I practiced when I was happy and celebratory. Since I was 16 years old, I have made the time for my mat, so I always knew that eventually I would become a teacher.
At the beginning of 2016, I moved from Washington to Colorado. Moving back to my hometown was emotionally crippling for me. 2016 has been one of the worst years of my life. I can safely say that the only good thing to come out of this year was that I finally did yoga teacher training. When I got back to town, and old friend of mine asked me to come to a class with her at a donation based yoga studio called Studio Share. I loved it. I had never been one to practice in a studio, being addicted to YouTube yoga and all, but practicing at Studio Share almost made the move to Colorado seem worth it. I loved the classes and I loved the teachers, I felt my practice blossoming in a way that it hadn't in years. I soon found out that Studio Share was offering Yoga Teacher Training in the fall and I knew then that I would have to make it happen.
For one thing, training through Studio Share was less than half the cost of any other teacher training program I had found while living in the Pacific Northwest. For another, it was the first studio I had ever felt a genuine connection with. As soon as the dates were announced, I signed up. It was a 10 week, 200 hour course, and I was very nervous. As I said before, the year had not been kind to me. My mental illness was out of control and mostly unchecked and I was barely leaving the house or getting out of bed. But, I wanted this so badly. This was one of my dreams. It was item #1 on my bucket list. I had to force myself. I had to do it.
Every minute of that 10 weeks was a beautiful struggle for me. I was still having trouble getting out of the house, but I made myself go when I could. At one point, I had to have a serious conversation with my teacher and tell her why I was absent. I had to admit out loud that my mental illness was out of control and that I wasn't doing well. There were moments when I was afraid that I wouldn't finish. I spent a weekend at an Ashram in the Boulder area (which is an experience I highly recommend to all of you), I talked about my life in class, I made friends, and I did a lot of yoga. I had to did deep, both to function and to be the person I needed to be for yoga teacher training.
I learned about chakras and oils and crystals. I learned about anatomy and alignment. I learned about creating sequences and making things flow. We talked about how instructors have to present themselves and what appeals to students coming in. I learned that I probably won't be able to fit every posture that I love into a single sequence. I also learned how much I love yoga. I thought I knew before, but nothing compares to the love I feel now both when I practice and when I teach. I am even more committed to my practice now than I was before and I feel a rush of joy and love when I teach. I love making sequences and creating playlists for my classes to practice to. I love talking about yoga. I have every intention of helping my friends through yoga, of giving back to my communities through yoga, and of bringing yoga with me wherever I go.
I have an education. I have two children. I have a job that I love and I have other hobbies as well. I have accomplished many, wonderful things in my thirty years on this Earth. I have never been as proud of anything as I am of becoming an RYT-200. I have never loved people the way that I love the people that I went through training with. I feel powerful, capable, accomplished, and prepared to face life because of my practice and because of my ability to teach yoga. Yoga teacher training saved my life. It helped to pull me out of one of the worst mental states I have ever been in. My practice continues to save my life every day. For me, yoga is life. Yoga is the manifestation of everything good that I have ever done and ever will do.