A Decade of Teaching and Transformation
Oh where does the time go? I still remember timidly exploring teacher training programs and wondering if I was good enough, if my practice was perfected enough, if I really wanted to commit 200 hours while working full-time, if I was ready to change myself and my practice, if I was ready to learn more and eventually share more… So many thoughts went through my mind, but my love for knowledge and my constant quest to always dig deeper made the choice to start a teacher training program easy peasy.
Starting the training more than 10 years ago was easy, but I never really thought I would teach yoga. At that point, I had a full-time job as an executive at a college and I recently completed my Masters Degree in Business. I knew yoga would change my life, but I did not realize how much yoga would change my future. I started my training with the urge to know and do more and then somewhere along the way, I knew I wanted to share all the good stuff I was learning.
When I completed my training, I started with one early Saturday morning class. I was honored and very nervous to be taking over the owner of the studio’s class. I prepared. I practiced. And, I begged family and friends to attend my classes. At this point, I thought…”This is just a side gig. This is just something to help me stay balanced. This is just something fun to do.” I never thought it would lead to me typing these words to you right now.
I think back to those classes and how hard they were. I was in my twenties and still held the attitude that the harder the class was, the better it was. I remember my students laughing about my high energy level and also fearing the amount of chattarungas we may do during that class. I remember burning CD’s to make the perfect playlist. (I must admit, I do love the ease of making a playlist now.) I remember being one of the very few yoga teachers in the area. I remember the fear that yoga often invoked because people were not sure if it was a religion, a cult… As always, people often fear what they don’t know or understand.
Yoga and its acceptance has changed immensely during my decade of teaching and 12 years of practice. You can find yoga at multiple studios, gyms, businesses, parks, pretty much anywhere. Our Western Culture has finally embraced an ancient tradition that transforms you both physically and mentally. We were a little late to the party, but at least we are sipping the yoga juice now.
I would have, nor could have, envisioned a culture where yoga is so trendy, cool and pictured on every social media outlet. I started teaching before social media was even a thing. These changes have transformed our society and have made yoga much more palatable.
Personally, I have transformed a lot over the last ten years as a teacher and as a person. My practice has transformed immensely as well. Rather than doing harder poses, I often focus on flexibility and strength. Conquering challenging poses are no longer on my quest. Focusing on how I can become stronger, yet calmer, mentally and physically are my priority. This may include a twisty practice or it may include silently walking through the woods. My practice has become mobile and so has my teaching. My retreats include yoga classes, but often focus on how our yoga can become a part of all our actions, such as hiking, eating, connecting with others… Yoga is so much more than what happens on our mat.
Maybe you were on your mat before me, started with me or just rolled it out for the first time. My point is not to emphasize the change in the yoga culture, but rather the changes that have occurred within me and that can occur with yoga. My practice and my everyday actions have slowed down a lot. Faster and harder are not always better. Being strict about my practice on or off the mat have faded away. I now move at a much slower pace with much more intention.
My yoga practice has also taught me to live life with much more fun and laughter. I remember struggling to get into poses and demanding that I practice a challenging sequence no matter how tired or sore. Now, everyday is an evaluation of what I need rather than what is on the agenda. What I often need is a breath of fresh air, laughter on and off the mat, hugs from friends… Becoming aware of what I need is much more important to me than forcing myself into a pose. Life is way too short to be so hard on yourself. My practice now provides me with the opportunity to love, laugh and relax.
Transformation is possible. Yoga gives you the space to transform at your pace, whether it be fast or slow. Yoga teaches you to laugh more, judge less and love more than you ever thought. I hope that I see you on and off your mat and that you will join me in the next decade of this transformational journey.
Sending you all love and laughter,
XO – L
XO – Laurel