It’s hard to put into words how exactly my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at One Down Dog changed me. I guess I expected it to in some ways (I mean, anything you’re passionate about and commit to for a long period of time has that affect), but I didn’t expect it to be so transformational for me, personally.
Going in, I really just saw it as a goal. I’d finally get my yoga certification—something I had put off for some time—and I could begin teaching something I’ve loved for years to others.
When I signed up last November, I found out I was pregnant a week later (which was not a surprise!). You may remember me saying this already but, I really didn’t know if I should still go through with the training or not. Did I want to be the pregnant girl in class? (YES) Did it even matter to anyone else? (NO)
(I wish I had left the worry at the door because my fellow yogis embraced my pregnancy from the second I told them about it. In fact, they loved that baby and me were part of the group and that made me elated.)
I decided to go through with it. I had over two months between signing up and beginning and that helped me get into a better mindset about it. Who the hell cares if I’m pregnant? This would be my own personal journey and I was starting to see the synchronicity of yoga teacher training and pregnancy as almost something aligned in the stars. ✨
When I first met the group of 21 yogis that would be taking the training with me and the 7 teachers instructing us, I could tell it would be something special. I was nervous, but I was committed to the entire journey (the readings, studying, homework, observations, class attendance, book report, final project, reflections, etc.) It was a lot for me—being pregnant and working full-time—but it offered me something that was totally unique on its own. It offered a personal practice and space that was mine to hold.
When I wasn’t working or hanging out with Sam, I was studying and taking class. I consistently took 3-4 classes a week the entire training and found, though hard to fit in at times, it completely enhanced my experience. My free time became so very valuable to me, and I would rather spend it at home with Sam watching TV than doing anything else. (That probably had a lot to do with being pregnant too. 😉)
As the class dove more into yoga philosophy, anatomy, sequencing, theming, and alignment, it became so crystal clear to me that the “yoga” I knew was much deeper, much more layered that I ever imagined. Yoga wasn’t poses or backbends and handstands. Yoga wasn’t Lululemon leggings and headbands. Yoga wasn’t a monthly membership fee and it certainly wasn’t a “look what I can do!” competition on Manduka sticky mats.
Yoga was connection and community. It was therapy. And it was quieting the mind, even if for just a moment in time.
Every other Thursday, Saturday and Sunday our class would meet up and c-o-n-n-e-c-t. We’d share stories, experiences, outlooks and opinions. We’d figure out new alignment cues together and nervously practice-teach each other for what felt like centuries when it was really only ten minutes. 😂 We’d hold space for each other, chant, meditate, and breathe as one. Over and over again. Week after week. For over four months.
We found our voices. Many of us even found ourselves, again.
And, we cinnamon roll hugged a lot (especially that last week).
As the weeks went on and my baby bump grew, yoga cracked me open to new learnings.
I’d have to move in new ways and practice patience on myself. That’s when the real yoga kicked in.
How could I breathe through the discomfort of poses that just a couple months ago were so easy for me? What if I took more child’s poses and used more props? What if I skipped vinyasas? How could I be a real yogi if my practice was deepening but my pace was slowing down?
The thing was… that was the yoga.
That reflection, self-study, and mindfulness was it. It was all it.
I began to think about the kind of teacher I wanted to be. What made me unique? What could I offer students that no one else could? This proved to be one of the toughest things to ponder. I knew I had something, but what was it?
After some time, I jotted down: “kindness, humor, and open-mindedness” and “I think what brings me to the mat to teach is I feel I have a lot to give, especially in my heart. I love connecting with people and making them feel good around me—whether that means they smile/laugh more or just get out of their heads/way for a minute. I’d love to be able to give people an hour to just feel good in their own bodies and minds through powerful movement and breath work.”
You guys know me… I just want those around me to feel good. That’s IT.
Yesterday, as I graduated with my whole group, I felt so many emotions. Pride. Joy. Strength. Community. Accomplishment. Love.
This whole experience brought me deeper into myself and bonded my baby and I in ways that are hard to describe. I feel like I know Baby B already. S/he was my rock through this all.
Sometimes, I’d lay in savasana, hold my belly and just feel the kicks. Those were my favorite moments. I was never alone. I was never just breathing for me.
There was one particular day I’ll never forget. It was the first Saturday training in Echo Park. My mentor, Bri (who is amazing and graceful in every way), was leading our class through a rainy morning flow. I had never taken her class before and I immediately was moved by her words and aura. You could hear the rain droplets trickling against the building. The lighting was dim and the energy was smooth and meditative as we all began to move.
After we worked up a sweat, I laid down to breathe in silent meditation toward the back of class and felt an overwhelming sense of love and devotion. I placed my hand on my stomach, connecting with my baby, and smiled. We were doing this together and though the road ahead seemed long and intense, we could do anything as one.
Thank you, yogi baby. You made this all possible for me. Looking back to November, there was no way I could have done this without you. It was silly of me to consider quitting, especially with you as my primary teacher.