I asked a while back what people wanted to see a blog post on and I had a few requests for my experience with yoga teacher training. So here is the story!
I’ve talked about it before but as a recap, yoga basically saved me. I was stressed out in college, felt lost and alone. I started taking classes at a bikram studio nearby and i was hooked. Not only did I love the way my body and my mind felt but I also loved the community. The regulars at the studio became friends, people I spent time with outside of yoga. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was something that would-be part of my life forever and I wanted to share it with others. By senior year I knew I wanted to do a teacher training. At that time, I thought I would do the bikram training in LOS Angeles. I had been to LA once before and loved it so this seemed like the perfect option. Then everything changed after I took my first vinyasa class. I knew there were other styles of yoga but all I had experienced was bikram. A friend and teacher from the studio took me to one of her friends vinyasa classes and my mind was blown. There was music and smiling and lightness and fun! It was the complete opposite of the very militant bikram style. I loved how freeing it was, how you moved with your breath and could just deeply feel.
At this point I had to reevaluate my whole plan. I knew I wanted to do a hot vinyasa teacher training and I still wanted to go to Southern California so I started some google searching. There were of course tons of different options but one that really stuck out to me was Core Power. The class structure looked great, the timing was perfect and the price was doable. It finished up right around the holidays and at that point i thought I’d move back to nj after so it seemed like a perfect fit!
I decided to bite the bullet and I called to put down a deposit so I wouldn’t chicken out. This was a huge deal for me. I was someone who struggled being 6 hrs away for college. I am so close with my family and such a home body that moving across the country was so out of character. This is how important yoga was to me, important enough to completely leap out of my comfort zone. I also had only planned to go for the training so in my mind it was just a 3-month move. Another pretty scary part of this was I didn’t know anyone in LA. I was going to live in a place where I had no one to turn to if things got tough. To say I was nervous is an understatement.
When the time came, I found a month to month furnished lease. I packed up some suit cases, shipped my car to CA and my mom and I flew out. She stayed with me a few days to make sure I was settled and I remember the day she left all I wanted to do was go back with her. She told me worst case scenario I could always come back home.
So, there I was alone in a new place. I had a few weeks before training started and I would just ride my bike around, explore the area, found some studios to practice at and basically just hung out alone. I did get a part time nannying job so I could make a little money, so I had two friends ages 4 and 6.
I will never forget my first night of teacher training. They encouraged us to take class beforehand so I walked into the Wilshire studio for a 6pm C3 class. At night, the studio is so busy! I was so overwhelmed. We started class, I was in the back row and we just got right into it. I can remember thinking what did I get myself into. After class, we had time to shower and get some food and then it was time, night one of teacher training. We had a group of about 20, all ages and all types of people. People with full time jobs, moms, college kids. Etc. I being the introverted person that I am was so shy. I don’t think I really spoke at all that first night. We met every Wednesday night and also Saturday’s and Sunday’s. It took me probably a full two weeks to start to open up and befriend my fellow TT crew. The great thing about yoga is that it is a space of non-judgement. Once I was more comfortable there I really felt safe. I now had friends. People I could turn to if I was stressed, people I could hang out with outside of the studio.
Once I felt more comfortable, I started to open up more during our training sessions. I started to let people get to know me and I started to find my voice as a teacher. One of my favorite days of training was the finding your voice exercise. We stood up and cued a posture and then a guest lecturer told us a pose to do. I got up, said my cues and she told me I needed to awaken my inner child and that would help me find my voice. She said I needed to be more playful, not so intense and serious. She had me do happy baby pose and then do my cueing again. There was SUCH a difference. I still listen to that advice today and when I teach I focus on letting out my more playful, less serious side.
I did take teacher training very seriously. I studied all the time and was always practicing my sequencing. We had to know a full 60 min class sequence so I would go down to the beach during the day and just do it over and over again. I was also in the studio ALL the time. I took 2 classes a day and just fully emerged myself into the yoga world. Looking back this was probably a little too intense but it helped me at the time be sure of myself.
Even though I was loving TT and had friends, it was still really hard to be away from home. The second month I was gone, Hurricane Sandy destroyed the east coast and my family was extremely affected. We lost our beach house which was sad but not the end of the world, but my family home was out if power for over two weeks. It also was extremely cold weather during that time so my mom would light a fire in our living room and that is where they slept. All I wanted to do was go home and comfort them but I couldn’t even get there. It was so hard being on the outside and knowing my family was suffering. During the storm my dad had torn his bicep helping move a tree off my uncle’s car. He couldn’t get into the hospital for a few weeks and when he finally did he needed surgery. During the surgery, my dad responded poorly to the anesthesia and his liver shut down. At the time the doctors didn’t know what was causing this. We were all so worried; they couldn’t figure out why his liver wasn’t functioning but they basically told us to prepare for the worst. Being across the country I felt so helpless. My mom kept telling me I didn’t need to come home, that it would all be ok. I think for that week and a half I cried every single day. Finally, they figured it out and my dad began to stabilize.
Even facing all these tough times and feeling like I should be back home, I still managed to fall in love with southern California. I loved being so close to the beach. I of course loved the sunny warm weather. I loved the focus on health and fitness. I loved how many healthy food restaurants there were. I loved the yoga studio that had become my home. Most of all, I loved the people who had become my family. I knew I had found a place that I wanted to be.
I went home for a while for Christmas and that is when I decided I wanted to go back to CA. My sisters were growing up, doing more things with their friends and I knew they wouldn’t be around all the time. My mom highly encouraged me to go back, I think she wanted a warm place to go visit ;). So, I went back. I signed up to do Core Power extensions program so that I could teach at CPY. I finished that, auditioned and started teaching. Once I was teaching a ton and had regular students I was forming connections with I knew I had made the right decision. I met my husband out here in LA so it is a good thing I stayed!
My yoga teacher training was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. It helped me to grow and to have confidence in myself. I had to get up and command a room, create a class that felt good for students, one that could be judged, and fully support myself. I will always miss home, there are still times I get really homesick and cry, wondering if I should be back closer to family. But then I go to teach, I see my students faces and I know that I am helping people, I am sharing the gift of yoga, the same gift that saved me.