Becoming a Yoga Teacher:: What brought me here

This post was inspired by the Love, Curvy Yoga podcast. In Season 2 - Episode 6, Anna talks about the windy road that led her to creating Curvy Yoga. And, while you’re over there, you should take a listen to Season 2 - Episode 5 where she talks to Reva. That episode is kinda WHOA for me as Anna is my teacher and Reva is my student. Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me.

I have a tendency to compare. I think we all do. But sometimes I feel like I don’t have a long history or a strong pedigree with yoga. I want to teach all over the place. I want to change my corner of the world, and one day beyond. But it is easy for me to get hung up on what I'm not and start thinking of all of the ways I could have been farther along in my yoga career if I had played my cards differently. I haven’t even been teaching for a year yet. Why should anyone listen to me? If I had found yoga right out of college, I would have been teaching for 15 years by now. And so on and so on and so on.

But deep down, I know that all of my professional endeavors have brought me here. That if I had missed even one piece of it, I might have missed an important skill that just comes naturally to me today. When I look at the last 15 years, I see a definite story arc. I see a logical growth from here to there. I don’t know the ending – or if there will ever be a definite ending place – but I can see how each step has made me a stronger yoga teacher.

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I am a better yoga teacher because I am a trained counselor. I love anatomy and developing logical and creative sequences. But my favorite thing about teaching a class is peppering in invitations to reflect, both physically and emotionally. I love encouraging introspection and building skills to respond with support and care. Researching and writing guided meditations into savasana is a highlight of my prep process (along with creating the perfect playlist).  I once introduced myself as a non-practicing therapist when a student asked me what I do. Another student later challenged me on that, saying that I create a therapeutic environment in my classroom. And that comes naturally to me.

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I am a better yoga teacher because I worked with kids. Straight out of Graduate School Round 2, and for several years after, I worked at an afterschool program for elementary school kids. These kids were the challenging ones – the ones with explosive, self-harming, and defiant tendencies. And I LOVED the work. I led group counseling almost every day, and I learned how to control a room by sparking their interest instead of commanding their attention because I was the grownup. I also had a knack for being able to make anything into a therapeutic conversation. I developed a 6-session program on bullying based on scenes from The Lion King. I am constantly assessing what I read and what I experience and finding ways to create a therapeutic learning experience for someone else. This skill is so important for developing classes and series of classes. I have a list over a page long of single-word ideas for class themes.

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I am a better yoga teacher because I helped people navigate a confusing system. I took a job with a patient advocacy company that I thought was temporary, and I stayed there for 8 years. I worked in a hospital and met with uninsured hospital patients. I helped them find and apply for different government and hospital programs to pay their bills. I learned how to talk to people that are in pain and scared and on the brink of financial ruin, if they weren’t already there.  I not only held their hands through a sometimes long and complicated process, but I taught them how to complete the process again if my services weren’t available the next time. I walked through the process with my clients – guiding, empowering, listening, helping, encouraging, finding creative solutions. I built strong relationships within what could be a difficult system to work in. It was important work and, even though the impending lay off was stressful for the last few years, sometimes I miss doing the actual work. It was very rewarding.

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I am a better yoga teacher because I taught people how to run safely. My first exploration into entrepreneurship was as a running coach. I ran my first half marathon on my own. When I decided that I wanted to run with people, I couldn’t find anyone at my pace in local running groups. So I created my own. Through LexRunLadies, I learned how to build community – a strong, caring, tight-knit community. I created a safe space where pace and distance didn’t matter. We were all training for different things – distance, time record, fun – but we were all on the roads together. I took the necessary training to become a RRCA Certified Running Coach. I started organizing 5K Training Groups and developing distance/speed training plans. At the height of LRL, I was organizing 5 runs a week + saving spots in our Wednesday evening yoga class. We were everywhere. But it became too much and I couldn’t do it on my own anymore. I struggled for a while to find reliable help. I learned when to say when. I learned that I can pull the plug on something I created and not fall apart. I learned that my identity is fluid and that I can break off a part of myself and still be me. But, more than anything, I learned that we have a tendency to doubt what our bodies are capable of. We tend to look at other people and say, “I could never do that.” Well, let me tell you, friends. I have ran one single mile under 10:00. I ran a marathon. There was a point in my life where I could run 16 miles without feeling fatigue at the time or the next day. Our bodies are capable of amazing things when we are focused and driven and disciplined. Not that I ever plan on being that focused again, but I know I could be if I felt the pull. And that leads me to have a curiosity of what my body could one day do on my mat. And I hope I bring that same curiosity into my yoga classroom.

It is easy to look back at all the time it took me to get here. But I know that it was all of this time that brought me here. And I’m curious to see where here takes me.

Early bird pricing through February 14. Price increases from $50 to $65 on 2/15/16.

Finding Space is a six-week yoga program to help you find and take up space. Space in your day. Space on your mat. Space in your life. On your terms.

Beginning March 6, you will receive a video practice (or two) each Sunday morning for six weeks via email. Links will go to video classes that are yours FOREVER. 4 60-minute practices, 2 20-minute practices, and 2 10-minute practices. Over the course of the week, we will practice and process together. Yoga classes, journal prompts, and a private facebook group just for this class.

In this six-week series, you will:

  • learn the basics of yoga
  • explore the best version of poses for your body in each practice
  • play with taking up the space you deserve, both physically on your mat and with increasing the self-care habit of a consistent yoga practice
  • receive journal prompts to continue thinking about the emotional aspect of the classes between sessions
  • be invited to a secret Facebook group to process as we practice together

Click here for more info and to register.