I began my own yoga journey about 12 years ago–when the only CorePower’s were Grant Street and Park Meadows. It wasn’t until this last summer that I felt the timing right to commit to yoga teacher training, and now being six months post-training, I’m already noticing the amazing ways yoga has infiltrated my life:
Directives and voice patterns: In teacher training, one of the fundamental principles is the importance of giving clear and concise cues; you can see this on your students–because you want them to quickly get into a posture in the safest way possible, you want to make sure you are giving these direct and concise cues, and when your students don’t move in the way you want them to, its likely because you misspoke (because, surprisingly, yoga students actually DO listen to what you are telling them to do). Throughout your class, you are encouraged to change your pitch and your tone, depending on the sequence–to be boot campish during core, to be soft and slow during surrender–because you want the pitch and tone of your voice to mimic what you want your students to feel. So, as I go about my everyday life, I notice my yoga voice infiltrating my own speech–drawing out the “O”‘s and dropping the ‘ings from my verbs, speaking from my diaphragm.
A commitment to health and wellness and eating habits: During YTT, I also completed the Elimination Diet (which has a similar philosophy as 30 Day Fix, the 28 Day Arbonne Cleanse, etc). It’s amazing what happens when you pay attention to how the food you eat fuels your body (which is kind of what it is supposed to do). You start noticing how eating Wendy’s hamburger makes you feel lethargic, how too much gluten causes your joints to ache, how your belly swells up when you eat dairy, how your energy levels spike and then crash when you eat processed sugars, how chips dehydrate you (there was one time I was running late to yoga class and was also hungry, so I grabbed ONE potato chip as I ran out the door and in the middle of class, my calf cramped–never again will I do that); I can even feel how a Lean Cuisine meal causes a spike in anxiety. When you make a commitment to health and wellness and eating habits, you start to notice how your stomach feels refreshed after adding more beans, hummus, and lentils to your lunches, how your body craves vitamins from raw fruits and vegetables, how less frequently you have to eat when you fill your stomach up with almonds and whole grains and fiber-rich foods. These reactions probably always existed, but because yoga is a practice about bringing awareness to your body, these reactions become much more noticeable and eventually, you vow to NEVER eat a Wendy’s hamburger again.
Yoga teacher training transformed the way I look at people’s bodies (in a non-creepy way): My teacher training focused largely around alignment cues–ways to stretch, build, and maintain a healthy spine. As a society, we spend so much of our time hunched over–whether it’s hunched over computer screen, a cell phone, a steering wheel–and when I think about how the benefits of something simple, like legs up the wall pose or a tadasana, is for me, I get excited to think about how those poses will also revitalize the bodies in my classes (recently, I had a gentlemen share with me how he’d injured his right hamstring, and from nursing that injury, he also injured his left hip, and threw his back out–but with a few simple adjustments, stretches and strengtheners in yoga, he felt all of that release). Even when I look at my dancers, I see new things in their bodies: how their piourettes are thrown off because their shoulders are not stacked over their hips, how their kick is not high because they are under rotating their hip joint, how, to build arm strength, they must also build back strength.
The yoga community: Yoga people truly are the best kinds of people. I grew up as a dancer, which provided me with some really fundamental adult skills (confidence to be in front of large crowds, standing with poise, how to put on fake eyelashes, etc.) but it also conditioned me to expect every group of people to be judgmental, ego-driven, selfish; when I’m hanging out with a group of people, I sometimes find myself expecting that the conversation will turn into criticizing other people, talking about other people’s dirty laundry, pointing out the eccentrics and weird things other people do. But when I walk into my yoga community–whether it is just hanging out after class, at a yoga gathering, or a teacher meeting–I’m always energized by the types of conversations that are never gossipy nor judgmental. Instead, people are usually talking about the newest trick they learned to get into wheel pose, or the mix of oils they just tried, or how they are rehabbing their sore chatarunga muscles, or what kind of new mat they are trying (if you are searching for a new mat, Reviews.Com just did a study and has some excellent recommendations!). It’s so refreshing to know there are communities of people who don’t center around talking about other people…
A need to stay less and to move more: Since yoga teacher training, I’ve developed this really interesting restless foot syndrome (I’m now convinced it IS a real thing); if I haven’t moved enough during my day, my legs twitch as I’m trying to fall asleep. Throughout my day, I find my body calling for stretches, for massages, for movement–because they love what happens to them during yoga. I find myself, during my day, craving a forward fold to release my hamstrings, or a nice little shoulder stand for some instant and natural energy, or a back bend to open my heart (as the semester winds down, I definitely need more of those).
And, this simultaneously gives me a decreased desire to be on my technology. Contrary to habits prior to yoga teacher training, when I get home from my busy day, the last thing I want to do is sit down, again, and turn on my computer, again, and stay stationary. Instead, when I return home, I want to move. I want to breathe deep breaths, I want to listen to energizing songs, smell an invigorating candle, read an inspirational book, clean something–anything and everything that does not require continuing to stare at a screen and be sedentary.
I really could go on and on about the benefits of yoga: the ability to be present, the forgiveness I’ve learned for my not-failings, the attractiveness of living in contentment and of reducing busyness, the physical strength my triceps now have due to so many chatarunga pushups…
Yoga truly is a physical, a mental, and a spiritual practice. As I continue my own yoga journey–both as a practitioner and as a teacher–I’m always so encouraged by the amount of growth yoga has seen in the last 12 years, and am so pleased to know it has impacted so many people, like myself. So, if you are considering doing teacher training yourself, even if you don’t think you will want to ever be a teacher, do it. It’s life changing and life fulfilling.