It seems that now more than ever, people are delving into the world of yoga. There are more yoga practitioners now in the United States than there ever was before. And with practitioners comes studios, and with studios comes yoga teachers. I recently became one of those yoga teachers, actually.
Now, let me start by saying there are tons of different styles of yoga teacher training and not all are created equal. The gold standard is completing 200 hours of yoga training in various topics and passing an exam that is administered by a Yoga Alliance accredited program. My particular program was through a studio in Canada called Yogacara. My program was an immersive program, and although the studio was based in Canada, I spent no time there whatsoever.
I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher certification in the span of 16 days, spent at the beautiful Pura Vida resort on the outskirts of the Costa Rican rainforest overlooking the city of San Jose. It was surreal, to say the least.
Just because I was in a place that was designed for relaxation, doesn’t mean that the process was all sunshine and rainbows, yoga and zen.
Our first class started every morning at 6:45 a.m., sharp. This hour-long class was followed by breakfast, then on to our second class of the day. This class went from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Then we’d have an incredible lunch and a much needed siesta. We reconvened every day at 2:15, where we learned until 6, with a 20 minute tea break somewhere in between. Dinner was until 7:15, and our last class ended at 9:30 p.m.
During this timeframe, we covered how to teach over 55 asanas (poses) including what they do, their contraindications, and modifications for them. We covered breathing techniques, guided meditations, and human anatomy. We learned ancient yogic philosophy and all four chapters of the Yoga Sutras. We developed confidence, strength, and vulnerability when we were asked to share some of our deepest motivations, aspirations, scars, and fears. We learned about values and how we should treat others, but most of all, how we should treat ourselves.
When I taught my practicum class, I chose to read a verse from Kendrick Lamar’s song, “Mortal Man” about a metamorphosis. It had dawned on me that our experience in our microcosmic world in Costa Rica was our cocoon. We were going to re-emerge back into our lives just like, how Kendrick describes it in his lyrics, the butterfly does: “It sheds light on situations that the caterpillar never considered.”
We were all being thrust back into the real world now, equipped with this incredible knowledge base. We were free to do whatever we wanted with it, but we had it. Whether I chose to teach or not after the training, I now had these tools to help me live a happier, healthier lifestyle with a more positive mindset.
I also got some cool takeaways from the program that weren’t quite included with the certification.
First and foremost, I have two incredible role models that I will look up to for the rest of my life: my two teachers.
I also got to meet some people who have impacted me in some truly profound ways: I met a woman who gave me a reiki treatment (a Japanese energy healing treatment) in which I felt exactly where and how my body was holding its stress and was given instructions about how to fix it, and another young woman who gave me a rolfing treatment (a holistic soft tissue treatment meant to hydrate your tissue in a way that is not attainable through massage). I was able to take away a piece of wisdom or two from every single one of the women I met on that trip.
I cried in front of these women. And I’m not talking just a teardrop or two, I’m talking straight up you’re-watching-The-Titanic ugly cried. They now know some secrets of mine that even my closest friends and family don’t know. They’ve seen me sweaty, without makeup, dirty, and hairy. They’ve seen me at my most vulnerable state, and they’ve accepted me wholeheartedly. That is perhaps the most important thing that I learned getting my certification: the importance of acceptance.
I would not have chosen any other way to get my teacher’s certification. I don’t feel that it is possible to get the same kind of intimacy and exchange of ideas in any other classroom setting. My favorite mantra that I have adopted in life and because of this experience is, “may all beings on this earth be happy and free. And in what way can I contribute to that happiness and freedom for all?” Living with these women, learning and understanding their beliefs, stories, perspectives, has allowed me to better understand how to attain that happiness and freedom for all, and that, as I said, is acceptance. Accept oneself, accept others, accept all that is.