I can’t believe I’m saying this, but today is my first day of Yoga Teacher Training, or YTT. I am here in Bend, Oregon (one of my favorite places on earth) ready to begin three weeks of learning, practicing, and growing. I’m excited, nervous, and a little sad to be away from home. So, why did I decide to do this?
I started doing yoga in high school. I was an athlete (volleyball y’all) and was always looking for different workouts. I knew there was a hot yoga studio in the town where I grew up and I had a connection (a friend’s mom’s best friend–not kidding) that brought me to the studio for the first time. I liked it and went back fairly inconsistently throughout high school. At that point in time, though, I only viewed it as a workout, in part because I would leave class dripping sweat from the heat. I hadn’t resonated with the spiritual part of yoga, and perhaps even actively resisted it.
Once in college, I was required to take a physical education class, and remembering my high school experience with yoga, I decided to take a Level II yoga class. It was once a week for two hours and I was painfully aware and anxious of the way my body moved compared to others who I believed were clearly more experienced with yoga. We had to write a brief paper (is it even a paper if it’s only three paragraphs?) about our three favorite yoga poses, and I distinctly remember that choosing pigeon pose was a no-brainer for me. Throughout my experience with yoga, pigeon pose had always seemed particularly restorative and healing. Often done near the end of yoga classes, this hip opener pose allowed me to think there was something more to yoga than just movement. Let’s be clear, though, that there was no ah-ha moment for me. Life just continued on, with yoga in the background.
After that, I studio-hopped for the next few years, sometimes doing yoga daily, other times not doing it for weeks at a time. I noticed myself turning to it more during emotionally difficult times–stress from school or work, anger at a friend, sadness from a breakup. It was not until the past year and a half (ish) that I became more immersed with yoga. I know it was no coincidence that this interest in yoga paralleled my increasing personal interest in meditation, mindfulness, and my professional interest in trauma-informed care. Yoga is all of these things and it’s something I really enjoy. I found a studio that I really connected with and practiced consistently there and at home, finding joy and ease with the poses and the breathing.
I am no expert at yoga. Nobody is, really. I’m not particularly flexible and I’m pretty sure I look funny in plank pose. I can almost hold a headstand and am working on my fear of trying a handstand. Yoga isn’t necessarily about the looks or the poses or the finesse. For me, it’s about moving my body in a way that is mindful and joyful, and in a way that makes me feel powerful. As a former athlete and just competitive person in general, it is hard for me to stop comparing myself to others around me in class. Remembering what yoga is really about helps ground me if (and when) I get caught up in that. I started considering YTT as a way for me to bring yoga to my workplace, for both my students and my staff. I also liked the idea of teaching yoga outside of school and maybe during the summers when I’m not working.
The idea, like many of my ideas it seems, was floating around in my head for a while before I decided to do some research. I was pretty sure I wanted to do an short intensive program, rather than one that is maybe spread out over many weekends, as it is hard for me to make things fit during the school year. I initially thought my only options were in places like Costa Rica or Bali, and I was scared away by the cost of the training AND flights. I was at the point where I was ready to say “okay maybe next summer” when I found a studio that was only 3 hours away and offered a three week YTT right at the end of my summer. I talked to the owner, then to my partner and family, and knew that I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) let this opportunity pass.
My hope is that I am able to continue, with a deeper knowledge and awareness, to use yoga in my own life to strengthen the connection between my mind and body. I also hope that I am able to leverage yoga as a tool for calming and for healing for my students. I hope, too, that I can share yoga with my staff, other educators, and other adults in general to help them find joyful, mindful movement.
So here I am. Today is my first day of Yoga Teacher Training. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me over these next three weeks and what comes afterwards. I’ll do a post when it’s all over to share about my experiences.
Thanks for reading! Check back soon.