About a year ago, I was going through a very rough phase in my life. I had survived a physical attack and right around the time I was emotionally healing from it, my mother died suddenly. I felt lost, alone and ungrounded. I turned to yoga to find peace.
I had practiced yoga for over a decade by now, but I needed a deeper connection. I didn’t know what that meant. All I knew was that I needed peace and acceptance for the person I was becoming.
I was also angry with the people who didn’t “show up” when my family or I needed them despite us having been there for them. I needed to forgive them, walk away, and heal myself.
Finding Home in a Yoga Studio
My search began. I chanced upon Yoga Vida, a yoga studio in downtown Manhattan. As soon as I entered the studio, for the first time in my life, my mind, body, and spirit became in agreement: my yoga and I had found a new home.
I got a positive vibe from the teachers and those around. It took me less than a month to decide this is where I wanted to do my yoga teacher training in vinyasa flow.
1. Seeing a New World
We live in times where people lack patience and time. Yoga is often treated as a physical workout, not a journey of spirituality and self-growth. People want to be in and out of the yoga studios within 75 minutes.
Depending on the studio where you practice, yoga can also be intimidating—imagine a yoga newbie witnessing an advanced handstand when they can barely hold a downward facing dog.
The teacher training goes beyond asana and introduces you to the science, philosophy, spirituality, religiosity, and anatomy of yoga. It helps you understand the true importance of yoga and the need to cultivate your individual practice. It reminds you that yogis come in all shapes and sizes and with different abilities.
Yoga teacher training reiterates what Kathryn Budig said, “There will always be people who can do it better than you, but that's a good thing! Start to see competition as inspiration—without envy.”
2. Finding a Community
It’s amazing how intimately you connect with strangers, who go on to become your fellow yogis and friends, during yoga teacher training. You may come from very different places, but you have this huge thing in common: love for yoga and desire to become better.
Even after the teacher training is over, you make these lifelong friends who support your spiritual growth and lifestyle choices without any judgment.
3. Learning to Do it Right
If you are into vinyasa flow like me, you know there is almost no time between asanas to focus on the accuracy of postures. If you don’t do things right, there is always a chance of hurting yourself. A big part of teacher training includes understanding the anatomy of the human body and making sure your posture is correct.
4. Finding Out the Truth
Yoga, a true gift, also works as a reflection in the mirror. It quickly shows you where you stand and where you need to go.
I couldn’t get into Wheel pose or headstand for a really long time. Despite having done yoga for all these years, I never once paused to consider the “why.” But in teacher training, you are taught to think, study the self and raise questions.
The more I thought I about it, the more it became clear to me that I couldn’t do certain poses because I was afraid. I was fearful because I didn’t like making mistakes or imperfection, be it in life or yoga.
Fear is a powerful thing if you use it for productive purposes...but it can be poison if not used properly.~Sweta Vikram
Teacher training taught me: the first step is to believe in you, surrender the ego, and get rid of judgment. The day I told myself that this was my yoga journey and I needn’t be 100% perfect; I got into a headstand, did a Wheel pose successfully, and started doing Crow pose.
5. Becoming a Better Person
Yoga teaches you to be kind to all, but yoga teacher training reminds you to be kind to your own self as well.
Society uses derogatory labels like “selfish” and “self-centered” when people fight for their own happiness and say, “I matter in my own life.” A lot of folks don’t make space for themselves in their own lives—I was one of them too.
Here is what I have realized: the day you start to respect your own needs and start to live mindfully, you learn to adjust your expectations of others and become happier. Sure, some people might not appreciate the “new” you but people who truly care about you will understand the shift in your priorities.
Yoga teacher training reminds you that kindness should be directed inwards as well, and if that means walking away from toxic people and relationships—so be it.
The yoga teacher training has showed me who I was meant to become. To quote Oprah Winfrey, “We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”