Four years ago at the end of August 2015, I packed an enormous backpack and boarded a plane to Greece with my best friend. No one was very happy with the recent decisions I had made (such as taking a leave from my early years/resource teaching position), but I knew that it was time for a big shift in my life. So after a whirlwind ten days of touring the Greek Islands and a tearful airport goodbye to my friend Leah, I embarked on a life-changing experience–a 200-hour hatha yoga teacher training in Lagonissi, Greece. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. And I’m so grateful I documented it all…read about it here.
Four years ago yesterday marked the day I graduated from that training (thanks for the reminder Facebook memories). This anniversary has given me cause to reflect on what I’ve learned and what has grown and changed since I began this journey.
You never know what’s around the next bend in the road: I never intended to teach yoga. I signed up for a yoga teacher training (YTT) because I was passionate about yoga and I wanted to learn more and deepen my practice. When I left Greece as a newly-minted yoga teacher and started to travel around Europe, teaching yoga was the last thing on my mind. However, when I shared with people that I’d just finished a YTT, they asked if I’d be willing to teach a class the next morning in our hotel. Before I could even agree, a fellow traveller called the front desk and booked a conference room for 8 am the next day. And next thing I knew, I was teaching my first-ever yoga class to three fellow travellers in Tirana, Albania. Talk about things you can’t predict! Subsequent classes took place on the roof of a hostel in Montenegro and the deck of a ship while sailing the Dalmatian Islands of Croatia. And just like that, I was a yoga teacher.
Build it and they will come: When I returned to Kenton, I had no plans to teach yoga. But, my mom persuaded me that I should hold a few by-donation classes in the weeks before Christmas and just see if people were interested. I secured a venue (the gym of my childhood school which was now an agriculture company and day care) and advertised the classes on social media. Much to my surprise, the response was fantastic. I began teaching classes in the Kenton School gym to anywhere from 6-15 yogis, and for a year, I called the scene of my Kindergarten-Grade 9 gym classes (with the occasional mouse) my yoga studio. Three years later, I have a beautiful little home studio in my basement that is one of my favourite places in the world.
You have to create what you want to be part of: I’ve always loved attending yoga events such as Prairie Love and Snowflake. When I lived in Victoria, I filled my days with beautiful studio practices and special events. I loved the variety, the amazing experiences, and being part of a big yoga community. When I moved back to Kenton, I missed this terribly (and still do). Then one day when scrolling through Pinterest, I saw a quotation that read, “Sometimes, you gotta create what you want to be part of”. A light bulb went off in my head and I realized that I had a great little yoga community right here in Kenton. If I wanted to experience events like the ones I loved in the bigger centres, I’d better get busy creating them.
I decided to take my Self-Care Sundays and special events to the next level and started collaborating with other yoga teachers and healers. The response has been wonderful, and sometimes as I sit there and gaze at my students in savasana, I’m overcome with amazement that this is actually happening in Kenton, Manitoba. And I made it happen. Wow.
You don’t need to be an amazing physical yogi: I’ve often felt like an imposter because I can’t do a handstand, or a forearm stand, or any crazy and impressive poses. I do like to challenge myself and explore new poses (so proud of myself that I can do a headstand), but impressing people with the shapes my body can make is NOT the focus of my practice. And, even though I can’t do side crow, I can still encourage and guide others through their practices. In fact, I think this sometimes makes my classes more approachable for new yogis.
My biggest takeaway from this is that authenticity, honesty, and simply sharing my practice has taken me further than a handstand ever will.
This is a way of life: I’ve had people imply to me that my yoga was “just a phase” and that I’d move on to something else soon. However, that’s not happening with yoga. This is a way of living for me now, and I don’t see that ever changing. I use asana to keep my body flexible and healthy and meditation and breathwork to keep me calm, centred, and focused (some of the time anyway). People tell me that I seem more relaxed. I go to my mat when I’m happy and I go to my mat when I simply don’t know what else to do. That purple rectangle has been my saving grace when I’ve been homesick, lonely, overwhelmed, exhausted, and angry. I’ve had some of my finest moments of clarity while moving my body into shapes or resting in savasana. Am I still a work in progress? Every. Single. Day. Except now, I have an arsenal of tools and practices to turn to when the going gets tough.
I am endlessly grateful for choosing this path every day. I’m so glad I took a huge leap and signed up for that yoga teacher training four years ago. Yoga has brought friends into my life that I never would have met and I can’t imagine my life without any of them. I’m excited for more adventures on and off my mat, sharing transformative experiences with my yoga community, and seeing where this journey takes me next. Another yoga teacher training is definitely in the cards. And, fingers crossed that someday I’ll be a cute old lady wearing Lululemon leading yoga classes to a group of fellow 90 year-olds. Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this path and shared their practice, wisdom, love, and light with me. Here’s to the next four years…Namaste.