Quit your job and then become a yoga instructor. That’s pretty much been my motto for 2019 and it’s been in my mind for the past few years, truthfully. I’ve wanted to talk about my experience on yoga teacher training for a while, how I got to this point and where I hope to go from here. So, naturally, let’s start at the beginning.
I took my first hot power yoga class in Chicago in 2013 but it wasn’t until 2014 that I actually fell in love with it. It was the same summer I started my blog and after struggling with an eating disorder for the last 2 years, I knew I needed something to make my mind and body stronger. The last thing I wanted to do was more cardio at the gym down the street so I bought a week of yoga at Cleveland Yoga for $20. Suddenly it felt like before I knew it, all I was doing was yoga. I’d drive to the studio at 7am, take 90 minute classes and that summer I completely fell in love with it for the first time.
The following summer was my first one staying in Chicago and it was the same scenario. I started working two jobs (as a host and my first internship at Loyola) and finding any chance to go to yoga I could. I’d go in the morning, to candlelit yoga at 7:30pm… truly any opportunity. Towards the end of that summer, I injured my foot in a bootcamp style class and then one morning, I woke up and couldn’t even walk down my street to catch the bus without feeling sharp pain in my foot. I remember like it was yesterday, crying in my apartment to my mom on the phone telling her how I wouldn’t be able to do yoga for 2-3 months and how I didn’t know how I’d manage without it. Absurd I know, but at the time it felt like the only thing that made me happy and especially when you’re in the midst of beating an eating disorder, not being able to be physically active for weeks at a time is such a mental marathon to get through. At the time I was one of two friends I had at school, I hadn’t really started meeting people through my blog and I wasn’t the type of person to “go out” so to me, yoga was my hobby and my social activity. And I loved it for that reason.
This was the point in my yoga practice where I knew, even if I can’t do yoga for a set amount of time, I know it’s going to be apart of my life for years and years. That’s why it’s called the practice. It’s never about a final destination but the continuous journey.
I always try to remind people of this who are passionate about it and feel like they’re in a funk where it’s not serving them, they’re injured or haven’t taken a class in a while. To me, even a simple 5 minute stretch in the morning or just sitting on my yoga mat cross-legged can completely shift my mindset and mood. It’s really not about what you look like, how flexible you are or how long you’ve been practicing it but the fact that you can make it to your mat and just move in any way.
Through the past almost 5 years of practicing yoga, I’ve been to so many classes where the guides/instructors often say “close your eyes and feel your body moving” rather than looking into the mirror. I’m guilty of it, too. Staring into the mirror in a yoga class seeing what I could do better or how I could LOOK better. Then the second I close my eyes and breathe into each posture, it’s kind of insane to me how the practice and my mindset around it begins to shift. I used to be that person that hated savasana because you couldn’t see yourself, you weren’t moving and it was too silent — “I’m basically just sleeping on my mat and thinking of everything I have to get done once I get home.”
Now I see it as that one small fraction of my day where I’m truly so in the moment and nothing before or after that moment can affect me. I relate it to the feeling of being in a cycling class and your favorite song comes on or when someone makes you laugh so hard you can’t breathe. When you finally feel at peace in savasana and realize how hard you worked the past hour… there’s nothing that can top that feeling (in my honest opinion).
After a few months of taking a break from yoga, I remember starting my membership back up in the winter of 2015 when I was working two jobs (yet again), an unpaid internship for school that was dragging the life out of me and thought to myself… I need to get back into this. Luckily, a CorePower Yoga studio was across the street from my internship at the time so it just made sense to go. I had barely any money yet my mom helped me pay for a yoga membership which looking back on it I’m so grateful for. During the beginning of my practice, my mom helped pay for my yoga which I couldn’t have been more grateful for. I like to think of her as my yogi guardian angel, truly making this all flow together — both then and now.
Once I started getting back into it here and there, 2016 was when I really felt a shift in my mindset towards what yoga meant to me and what I wanted out of it. I went to an event with Nike one night and everyone talked about their goals for the year and I remember mine was becoming a fitness instructor. A yoga instructor, specifically. It’s funny to think back to having dreams like this because I knew I’d make them a reality but it was all in timing, and I think now that I’m actually pursuing this, it couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.
That year was probably the hardest year of my life but the strongest mentally in regards to using yoga as a coping mechanism and I truly couldn’t thank the practice enough. As I grow older, I think I grow fonder of what yoga has done for me mentally as opposed to when I was younger, focusing on just the physical. There are countless classes I can remember during 2016 where I felt like I was in therapy without even having to talk to anyone. One in specific I’ve mentioned before in a prior post but when my yoga teacher mentioned breathing into our heart chakra in savasana and letting the light in our heart flow into someone else’s who needed it. At that moment I felt my mom’s energy. Just this past weekend I took a candlelit class and ending up crying in savasana again, as the second my instructor did a hands-on assist I felt my mom’s energy again. To me, it’s those little moments I truly find more powerful than anything.
From June to August of that year, I went to yoga multiple times a week in hopes that it was the one thing that could get my mind off of my mom’s 9 month battle with cancer. I think that when people deal with grief and suffering, there are always specific outlets they use to cope. At the time, I thought it was talking to or dating certain people or filling my time with relationships that I thought were helping me. But what I now realize was the two things that helped me cope the most (aside from family and friends) were music and yoga.
When 2017 came around and I lost my mom, I turned inward to yoga. I remember taking a hot power vinyasa class 2 hours after I found out my mom passed away and when my roommates said I shouldn’t go and stay home instead, it was truly all my mind and body wanted. A release. The therapeutic feeling I knew I’d have after I left the room. If there’s anything I wish I could go back and time and change about those classes I took right after my mom passed, it’d be to tell my instructors just how much those classes meant to me and how I needed them the most because of what I was going through.
And that leads me into the WHY behind teacher training. I’ve been telling people for probably the past two years now that at some point in my career I wanted to quit my old job and do blogging and fitness full-time. It just seems like such a right fit. I’ve loved fitness for the past 10 years but through the past 3 of struggling through living in a new city, battling anxiety, getting over toxic relationships and working through loss and grief, I’ve realized that I want to actually help and impact people in some way like my fitness instructors, movement and music have helped me.
For someone who probably isn’t into fitness as much as a “health and wellness blogger” you might think how has a fitness instructor changed your life? But truly, the people I’ve met through my yoga classes, the specific flows I’ve moved through and words of wisdom I’ve heard from teachers, guides and friends in the past 3 years have truly impacted me in such a positive way that I don’t think something or someone else could have and I want to give those feelings to other people who might be going through similar things to what I’ve gone through.
I want to create sequences and flows that make people stronger not only physically but mentally. Classes that get people excited to get out of bed at 6am when it’s 5 degrees in Chicago with music that inspires them to change their mind and perspective. I want people to come up to me after a class telling me how good it was and how it was just what they needed — things I hear students in my classes I take now tell my instructors all. the. time.
So many times I had these doubts swirl in my head like, oh no, I could never be a teacher or I could never memorize a flow to teach to a room full of 20-50 people but the second I left my job in January I was instantly looking for trainings in the city. I knew it was the universe’s sign telling me that this is it, this is what you’re supposed to do. I’m at the point where I’d rather be hustling through my blog and teaching class all over the city than working a desk job that’s slowly eating away at me, not fueling my passion. I want work every day to feel like a dream and I know through this journey, it will.
Once I found the training I wanted to do in early January (through one of my favorite studios — Zen Yoga Garage), I submitted my deposit on my birthday (less than 3 weeks from quitting my job). That was my 24th birthday present to myself and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
For those who are unfamiliar with how yoga teacher trainings work, I will touch on it lightly in this post. However, I will be doing recap posts every 2 weeks or so to highlight how training is going from start to finish so you can all be along for the ride.
There are numerous different types of trainings all over the city (and world, for that matter) including pre-natal yoga, bikram, vinyasa, etc. Also each training you find might be a different amount of hours (usually 200 or 500). I’ll be doing a 200-hour training which means about 10-12 hours a week of training from March to May, usually on nights and weekends. The training involves about 15-25 people with 3-5 teachers that lead the group. I’ll discuss more when I start the process but essentially it is learning all about the anatomy of yoga, the practice itself, how to create sequences/structure for classes and so much more all in 200 hours. My goal is to go to at least 4-5 yoga classes a week as well to deepen my practice and strength even further which I couldn’t be looking forward to more.
Not only am I looking forward to hopefully teaching classes by this summer/fall but meeting people through this new community, my training group, meeting the teachers who will be guiding my training and everyone who will come into my life after this experience. I’ll be sending all of the updates during training and I know this is my most used phrase but “I’m so excited” for this chapter in my life and to make even more Spotify playlists that are entirely yoga-themed.
P.s. Because so many people ask, here are my favorite studios that I’ve ever been to and continue to go to when I can:
Cleveland Yoga – always my #1 go-to when I’m back home