It’s no secret we are in the final stages of yoga teacher training. We have exams coming up right after Christmas and then we teach our public classes before graduation. In less than a month I’ll be a certified yoga instructor! I’ve been busy studying, reviewing and
trying struggling to remember all of the bones in the body…please don’t even ask me about the muscles of the body! One of our assignments was to write an essay describing our journey into yoga. I’ve been sharing my journey of yoga teacher training for months now, and it only seems fitting to share my journey from the beginning…
Yoga first came in to my life late one night, just a few days after I had been laid-off from my very first job. I was struggling to understand how someone who worked so hard, studied hard in college and by all accounts done everything right could lose their job just 8 months after starting. It didn’t seem fair and I took it personally (and later learned that business is not personal). I was reading Eat, Pray, Love and was engrossed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk of ashrams and how they healed her. The next day, with all my newfound time, I set out to find a yoga studio and more books on yoga. At the time, the only yoga classes that were offered were at the YMCA. I signed up for a membership that day and took the class. I went everyday at 8am for 2 months. It was mainly myself; a few stay at home moms and a couple retired women. The instructor worked with me to modify the poses so they’d be more of a challenge for me and I loved how I felt physically and how clear my mind felt when I’d left.
Two months later I got a job in Boston, packed up my stuff and moved into a studio in the Back Bay. I knew no one and nothing about the city except that the few times I’d been there I’d loved it. The very same day I moved to Boston I found out I had gotten a spot in the New York City Marathon. On the top of my to-do list was to find a good gym. I knew no one, didn’t have a ton of extra money but knew that the gym might be the best place to meet people or at least get me out of my apartment. Plus when you are training for a marathon, treadmills are nice.
One of the very first classes I took at Healthworks was a slow flow yoga class on a Tuesday night. The studio was packed and I remember asking the girl next to me if the instructor was nice and what other classes she could recommend. I started going to yoga almost everyday and loved how much harder and more challenging it was than the class at the YMCA. I tried every class and style they offered, Iyengar, Forest, Slow Flow, Vinyasa, Power and Restorative. For many months I loved the slow flow, it was perfect class while I learned the poses and built up strength. I started to transition to the Vinyasa and Power classes and fell in love with yoga in a whole new way. I loved to sweat, the challenging poses and new flows, and the music played in class. I could let go, relax and unwind. I felt a new sense of calm in those classes.
While I was exploring all of the new-to-me yoga classes I was also training hard and putting in a lot of miles so I’d be prepared to run the NYC Marathon. The summer flew by with long runs and lots of yoga. I’d head home from work, squeeze in a run and then quickly head up to the gym for a yoga class. Then in late September my knee started bothering me and it was painful to walk let alone run. I knew something was wrong. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Iliotibial band syndrome. In the final months leading up to the marathon I spent many days in PT, running what I could before pain set in and going to yoga. I was able to run the marathon and finished in 4:03.57. After the marathon I could hardly walk, I had bone spurs in my feet and all but tore by IT band. I swore off running for the winter and dove head first into my yoga practice.
That winter I deepened my practice, learned challenging poses like headstand and arm balances. I started noticing that I felt calmer in the car when I was stuck in traffic, I didn’t feel such stress to run from one place to the next but took care to enjoy what was happening in each moment of my life. I found myself taking part of my practice with me into life and was seeing the positive effects. I always stayed late after class, asking questions and getting help with poses. After a few months one instructor asked me if I’d ever considered yoga teacher training. She’d told me she thought I had what it would take to be a good instructor and suggested I look into it. She had finally said out loud what I had been thinking for months, that maybe I wanted to be a yoga instructor. I asked all of my instructors how and where they’d gone through their certification. Some had gone to India, others to New York City. Some did it in 6 months and others in a year. And then my favorite instructor told me about South Boston Yoga.
By the time I had discovered South Boston Yoga yoga had already changed my life. I knew I wanted to be a yoga instructor, was taking as many classes as I could fit in to my schedule and even started my blog, LiveRunLoveYoga, as a place to talk about yoga. I was saving every penny I could to pay for the training and knew it would happen when the time was right. I finally took my first class at South Boston Yoga; a Sunday morning class with live music and my life was transformed forever. The lessons and wisdom shared in each practice, with the chanting and singing took me to a place I’d never been. Just 7 months after my first class at South Boston Yoga, in the midst of training for my third marathon I signed up for yoga teacher training.
Physically, yoga changed my entire body. As a collegiate athlete I was very muscular and strong but yoga helped me to find a leaner, stronger version of myself. I shed much of the muscle I no longer needed and learned how to use my strength in an entirely new way. The idea of zipping up my core to find strength in balance was an entirely new concept to me. Yoga helped to heal my body after my IT band injury during my first marathon. It evened out my muscle imbalances and stretched my incredibly tight hips. After years of working to open my hips and stretch my hamstrings and quads, I no longer run with the knee brace I once needed. After 4 years of a regular yoga practice my running has completely changed. My core is stronger, and the drive in my knees and hips is so much more powerful. When I take a misstep I hardly notice it as my body is already correcting itself. Beyond my running my posture is much more aligned and I walk taller than ever before.
Mentally, and emotionally yoga has taught me more than I could ever imagine. One of the first things yoga taught me was to stop worrying and to control those emotions. It also taught me patience, it’s taught me that not everything needs to happen RIGHT NOW and that the best things in life come with time. As I’ve gone through teacher training I’ve learned how to let go of the person I didn’t want to be. I’ve learned to free myself from the parts of my personality and past that were holding me back from enjoying the best parts of life and being the person I know deep down. I’ve learned to be vulnerable, and open. And I’ve learned that imperfection is beautiful. The list of what I’ve learned emotionally and mentally from yoga could go on and on but it has changed my life in more ways than I can count.
I’ve come so far on my journey into yoga, and honestly don’t know where my path will lead me. Yoga has healed my body and my soul. It’s given me something to share with my significant other, to experience together and separately as a couple. Yoga has given me friendships, the most significant being that with myself. It’s given me an understanding of the body, and the mind. It’s helped me to have compassion with everyone around me. Most significantly, it has given me a gift to share with the world. Yoga has given me the tools to help others much like it has helped me.