Tradition says that yogis are either born into families where parents teach them yoga or they are drawn to the practice by their own will power (like a magnet) at some point in a lifetime. Either way, it’s destiny... In 2012, I was working in the restaurant industry, had recently graduated from university, was in a committed relationship and generally fit in with the “grind” of working, spending and consuming. I was happy, but I also found myself looking for “something else”; something to do, feel, experience, learn (or maybe just to produce and consume)… In June of that summer, I attended a yoga class at Yoga Vermont on the iconic Church St in Burlington and promptly took advantage of the opportunity to join in on a YTT day just to see what it was all about.
I signed up for yoga teacher training immediately with essentially no idea what I was getting into. After one session with my teacher, Kathy McNames, I knew I wanted to spend more time around her, learning what she knew about yoga and life and love. Previous to this time in my life, I had visited yoga studios as many people do when they travel, or when special deals were offered, but I never had a regular practice until I signed up for YTT. The biggest reason I invested in YTT was because I knew it was going to be good for me. It took me another 7 years to figure out that’s the REAL reason YTT changed my life.
In life we are told to invest in things that will serve our future… Medical insurance will help if we need it, that loan we’re taking out for a house or school is only temporary, if we work enough hours when we’re young maybe we can save enough for retirement, there’s no time for vacation now so save the vacation days for later… By investing in myself I found I found the yoga practice to be ultimately engaging, full and challenging. For the first time in my life, I was able to actually show myself I care about myself. Not only that, I am capable of taking care of myself in a way that inspires others, supports my relationships and continues to ask questions like: Are you sure? Is this possible? And why not?...
The next thing that became obvious was my physical health. I began practicing asana 1-3 times and studied rather intensively, still working nights and some weekends in the restaurant. My first teaching gig showed up in October 2012, only 3 months into my own new practice and 200 hour YTT program. With over 20 classes a week on my roster, my physical body was noticeably more toned, I was stronger than I had ever been before and my skin was glowing naturally. Now come the, “Have you lost weight?”, “Are you an athlete?”, “DUDE, you’re jacked.” People saw a change and immediately wanted to define it. Instead of defining myself, I would smile and tell them I practice yoga.
Truth is, the yoga works for me. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written since 2012, you know how passionate I am about this lifestyle. Without the study of the “other stuff” from teacher training, yoga may have just continued to skim the surface of my life. By discussing the process, diverse techniques, anatomy + physiology, ethics, philosophy and self-discovery, YTT has the power to help people get where they want to be.
You don’t have to take it from me either, ask someone who has done a teacher training. Do your research. Not all programs are the same. While a long running format running long weekends once a month for a year is a nice local option, other students prefer to immerse in the study intensively for a shorter period of time. When the time is right, you’ll sign up for teacher training, but remember that no one else is going to do it for you. This is what I continue to carry from my yoga and meditation practice. If you don’t take care of yourself (body, mind + spirit), NOBODY ELSE WILL! Your health and wellness are your own responsibility. If you invest in your well-being now, you will start to feel the benefit NOW.
I love to teach yoga because it keeps me learning, exploring and sharing a lifestyle that makes me feel amazing. When I think about my life today, it’s my life pre-yoga and now, with yoga! Teaching has been a natural avenue for me to grow into the corners of my life that once seemed far away; distant countries, foreign languages, imagination + adventure, independence, extreme happiness and sincere gratitude. For this, I am grateful for my life, which is currently saturated in yoga.
We are not just talking about where to put feet and hands in YTT sessions, we are discussing things like cultural appropriation and rape culture, we are discussing trauma informed language and ancient history, studying classical texts and human civilization. We are also taking time to quiet the mind, practice positive thinking and learning about functions of OUR OWN energetic and physical bodies. Each student in YTT walks away with the exact same certificate as their peers, but a completely different experience. I urge you to look into yoga teacher training, and to continue training beyond the 200-hour level. Yoga practice is not something you “complete” or “finish”, it is a lifestyle of longevity, wellness and union.