5 Truths I Learned While Becoming a Certified Yoga Teacher




I made the decision and the commitment to enroll in a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program at Corepower Yoga, where I was already attending classes basically every day. I felt like my practice had begun to plateau, and teacher training was something that had been sitting in the back of my mind since I started practicing yoga consistently while living in New York City. The time commitment was what had held me back in the past, but at this point in my life, I was desperately searching for a way to make a commitment to something I was passionate for and not only served a fundamental purpose in my life, but that brought gainful purpose to my life.

I experienced the usual stages one goes through when working towards completing a lofty goal. The exhilarated nerves in the beginning, the anxiety that ensues from attempting to absorb the overwhelming load of information coming in, the thrill when you can see a glimpse of the finish line and your progress begins to manifest, and finally, the simultaneous swell of pride and relief for completing your goal.

After recovering from and reflecting back on the process, overall, I feel accomplished, I feel humbled, I feel grateful. As a person, I still feel the same, although significant self-discoveries were made. My practice didn’t progress in the ways I expected it to, but I do feel that I practice on a more mindful level now. The training provided a solid foundation and sufficient inspiration for continued learning.

Below are the five truths I learned while training to become a yoga teacher:

1.    The Community
I was told that your fellow yogis-in-training would become some of your best lifelong friends, but truthfully, I wasn’t in it to make new friends. Yoga has always very much been an intentionally personal experience – my yoga mat was my sanctuary, my therapy, my “happy place.” I had observed the forms of fellowship around me, but I had no interest in participating.

However, during the 8-week program, I was spending more time with my yoga peers every week than anyone else in my life, and in these 200 hours together, we began to learn about each other on genuine levels, we exposed our most vulnerable selves, we came to rely on one another as a support system as we all shared in this challenging and demanding journey.

I found something that I never knew I could find in yoga before: a sense of community. This involvement has elevated my practice as I now understand how to share my practice. During class, I feel uplifted energetically by my fellow yogis, while still remaining connected to my own unique experience.


2.    The Intention
On the first day, our coaches had us write down our intention for the program. Like I said, I was looking to level-up my practice, and specifically I wanted to learn more about the physical benefits of poses as well as the philosophy and history of yoga. While our time allotted allowed us to merely scratch the surface of both topics, what I did take away from each lecture was a higher level of mindfulness and it became a resounding theme throughout the program.

In the way yoga unifies mind, body and spirit into one vehicle, this unification is how yoga helps to even out the inconsistencies we experience in life. I was inspired to make an attempt at living a yogic lifestyle – being aware of how everything is connected in the world around us, being aware of how I interact with myself and the ways in which I interact with others.

In an effort to carry my yoga practice from my mat and into the everyday moments of life, I began to study and implement the Yoga Yamas and Niyamas, the moral guidelines for the practicing yogi. Honoring these ethical guidelines required a strenuous level of self-control and mindfulness in each action and decision, therefore cultivating a more present and aware state of being.


3.    The Process
I have a tendency to always need a plan so that I can have a clear vision of how things will pan out. I don’t consider this a fault, but it certainly presented itself as a challenge during the program. There were several moments of panic when we were pushed to our edge, out of our comfort zone, without sufficient preparation. I had to remind myself over and over, to the point it became my mantra I would meditate on before every class, to trust the process. Trust the process. There’s a reason why it is structured the way it is. Because it works. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to follow, but you will succeed if you trust it.


4.    The Voice
I learned quickly that teaching is much, much, much harder than it looks. When you take class every day, your mind picks up on the recycled cues and your body memorizes the flow. I thought since I knew the sequence so well already, teaching it would come easily. Wrong. So wrong. I struggled the most with finding and crafting words into effective cues. I knew them, they were right there in my head. But there was a disconnect between my mind and my voice that I had to bridge.

I’m inherently soft spoken and withdrawn, so speaking has never come naturally to me which has made me a much more proficient and eloquent written communicator than a verbal one. I knew as I embarked on this journey that this would present itself as an opportunity to develop my verbal communication skills, and it certainly did.

Eventually I found a system that helped me, which was to basically write myself a script. I was very thoughtful and intentional of the cues I chose, and my script went through several re-writes as I found what resonated with me the most. In the feedback I received from my coaches, they always complimented my cues with notes like “poetic” and “strong.” However, my areas for improvement always included “project your voice!”

As my words began to flow more intuitively and effortlessly, my voice became assured and my coaches noted my transformation as I now assumed an authoritative role in front of class. I found my voice as a teacher. I cherish this newfound confidence because it came as I was able to prove to myself the capabilities I possessed but had been dormant until I was pushed to a new level outside of my comfort zone.


5.    The Practice
I learned early on to toss my self-competition and perfectionist ambitions to the side. They serve no purpose to me in my practice. It is called a practice because that is literally what it is – practice. It is constantly evolving and it is never the same one day to the next. I learned to have patience with myself, to not only listen, but to also respond to my body and to show myself love no matter what state my mind or body may be in on my mat that day.





The Call of The Last Frontier

I spent Labor Day weekend in Alaska with my cousin, Caitlin. I had been looking forward to this trip for quite some time -- I'd heard of how beautiful Anchorage is in the summer season and Caitlin and I had been discussing the sights and activities we were going to explore while I was there. However, nothing prepares for you for the astounding glory that surrounds Alaska until you are physically soaking it in.

I was completely captured by the magnificent grandeur of Alaska's landscape. The residents hold a deep and solemn reverence for their surroundings. A quiet sense of peace hangs in the air. Nature rules the land, and there is a mutual recognition of its dominance and superiority.

The mountains reign quietly, ever present in the distance. Deliciously lush, deep and bright shades of green cover the ground. The tremendous trees hover overhead, aflame with colors of seasons in transition. The coast is an epic convergence of rocky terrain and restless waters. The glacier lakes were truly a sight from a story book. Pools and streams of the purest turquoise water I've ever seen, fed by the massive glaciers tucked in between the mountain tops.

Upon returning from Alaska, my wandering, restless spirit is more alive, and more relentless, than ever before. All of it made me feel so removed from the life I had waiting for me. This was such a raw and pure way of life. There are no materialistic desires because there is no need. Nature itself is the most thoroughly satisfying experience, and there seems to be no end to these experiences in Alaska, America's Last Frontier.




After seeing photos of The Eagle River Nature Center on Caitlin's Instagram that looked picture-perfect enough to be on the front of a postcard, I told her I wanted to make sure we made time for a quick trip up. However, on the day we went the weather was quite overcast and drizzling rain, and the mountains were masked by a dense layer of fog. I didn't mind, though. I found the misty clouds added a magical air of mystery to the atmosphere that was enchanting. 







We made a stop at this meadow in Turnagain Pass along our day trip down south to Seward for the outhouse, and we stayed for the delightfully magical views. The sun was peaking out from behind the clouds, and the tall weeds were dancing in the wind. My soul swelled with an overwhelming sense of freedom. 



Seward was quaint and charming.






These were taken from stops made along Whittier Road in Chugach National Forest. 




One morning we walked the boardwalk over Potters Marsh. We sipped our coffee while admiring a pair of bald eagles and chatting with a local wildlife-observer. Not a horrible way to start the day, to say the least.



Taken at Beluga Point on my first day on probably one of my top five favorite roads I've driven down, Seward Highway. We stopped to watch several Beluga whales play in the incoming tide. 





These were taken at the same spot at Beluga Point. It looks like a completely different place with the low hanging mist. Equally beautiful, I believe, just in a different way.





Salmon!







Really, these glacier lakes speak for themselves. No caption necessary.



 








Probably my favorite hike of the trip was on Winner's Creek Trail in Alyeska. The forest, coated in a thick layer of moss, felt so exquisitely lush. It was incredible to me to think that this forest teeming with life and color would soon be caked in snow... 





Oh yeah, and my little climbing buddy took me to get belay certified! (And yes, that wall is as scary high as it looks.)


Thank you, Caitlin, for introducing me to the miraculous state of Alaska. It has taken my hunger for adventure to a new level.



How To Be A Badass: Pt. 2


While reading "You Are A Badass," my eyes were opened to how much more space I have to grow and all of the misconceptions that had been floating around in my head for no reason. First things first, take the time to challenge your set of subconscious beliefs. These are the ideas which you accept as truth. Are they really true, or have you allowed those thoughts to stick around long enough that you start believing they're true? When you tackle and address your subconscious belief system, you'll find the truth about yourself. This will open the space within to start inviting fresh, new, positive beliefs and experiences that lift you up. 

This is necessary to move forward and start making room for the life you demand to have. Because, why not? You deserve it. If you want to learn more ways to be a badass, keep reading. Here are my four takeaways from "You Are A Badass:"

1. The secret of the universe = energy. 

 No, really. This actually scientifically just makes sense. Vibration attracts like vibration; therefore, if you raise the frequency you are emitting into the universe, the universe will match your vibration. Start putting out into the universe what it is you want to be true, but you have to believe it as fact right now. 

Communicate with the universe everyday to state your truths and maintain your frequency level by practicing meditation. MEDITATE, people. It's so valuable and rewarding. Spend time alone, thinking, tuning into your inner guidance. "My inner guidance??" you might think. I did, too. I thought, "That's what I need a mentor for! I can't find my inner guidance, that's the problem." But I promise, it's there. You just have to listen to it.  

I can't say that I've had any major epiphanies from meditating yet, but I have been able to practice controlling my mindset which is hugely powerful. I'm able to keep the positivity in and flush the negativity out. I feel love for myself and I feel connected to a progressively truer and truer version of myself. When I feel my thoughts going negative, I can step in and guide them back to a positive direction. You'll never have a positive life with negative thoughts plaguing your mind, so get rid of that mess asap.

2. Take action. Hell-bent-for-glory kind of action.

I've always been extremely ambitious and motivated. I'm very action-oriented and I always have at least one goal I'm working towards. I'm always up to take opportunities and new experience when they are presented to me. But sometimes I do give myself the excuse,"The time just isn't right yet" before taking a risk that I feel I haven't had sufficient time to prepare for.

Jen woke me the hell up when she wrote, "Most answers are revealed through doing, not thinking." You can be the most driven person that's ever lived, but if you don't take action, you'll ultimately accomplish nothing. Sometimes life requires taking a risk when it's not comfortable. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is necessary for self-development as well as for creating your dream life. And as beneficial as it typically is to be thoughtful and methodical, eventually you just have to the damn thing. 

3. Do what you love more. 

"We're all busy but it's people who make enjoying life a priority who enjoy their lives."

PREACH, Jen, PREACH. We all get it. Life is busy and hectic. And things are never going to slow down. Time is pretty much in warp speed from this point on.  

You have to proactively create a life you love. Make the time when there aren't enough hours in the day already. Prioritize. Start putting things first that you know will have a positive impact on your happiness and state of mind.   


4. What people think of you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

I feel truly liberated everyday because I'm not dependent on other people's perception of me. I love me, and that's enough for me. Besides, no one else is going to be me if I'm not me. 

You will always remain reliant on other people if you don't disassociate your self-worth from their own conceived perceptions of who you are. It's such an impossibly exhausting load to carry when you depend on others for validation. The sooner you let that go, the sooner you'll find freedom. 

Think of how much sweeter and easier life could be if you just fully embraced your glorious, splendid, radiant self. Make it your mission to hold the title of your own most diehard fan.

LOVE YOURSELF FIERCELY. 

"Our fantasies are our realities in an excuse-free world." Let that sink in. Remember that the next time you give yourself a lame-ass excuse for not taking action.

Now, go kick ass at life. You are powerful and the universe is ready to give you what you want, you just have to ask for it. 

HOWEVER, all this being said, just to keep it real... I'm still actively trying every day to be content with what I already have. As hard as I'm working towards making moves and taking action in my life, I currently have so much I am grateful for. I try to meditate on everything I have to be thankful for at least once every day; so, although I may be attempting to create the most awesome version of my life possible, I never want to be ungrateful for the life I have at the moment.


-M