How Yoga Teacher Training Taught Me to be Brave…Even Amid a Global Crisis

Four months ago, I signed up for The Hot Room’s Hot Power Vinyasa teacher training on a whim. At the time, the thought of actually going through with a training course, much less leading a yoga class in front of REAL PEOPLE made my heart instantly race and palms start to sweat.

In the three years since I’d started my yoga practice, the desire to try a teacher training appeared before me over and over, again. Yet, I never allowed myself to move any further into the process than recognizing this inner desire and promptly lecturing myself with a mental list of excuses–my work schedule was too busy, I hadn’t been practicing yoga long enough to be successful, I simply wasn’t “yoga teacher” material (whatever that means).

I continued to ignore this longing to pursue teacher training until I moved to Indianapolis at the end of 2019. Two weeks after joining The Hot Room, I heard of an upcoming 200-hour Hot Power Vinyasa teacher training course and, for the first time since starting my practice, I ran out of excuses to tell myself. So, I went for it.

This seemingly small step was the first lesson in bravery I learned from teacher training: Don’t allow fear to keep you from missing out on opportunities in life.

Well before reading any of the fascinating books or practicing leading individuals in a Vinyasa sequence, I succeeded in making the determined decision to push my fears and insecurities aside and move toward a long-held goal.

Within 48 hours into our first teacher training weekend, I volunteered to share one of my greatest insecurities with a group of 25 then-strangers. I stood; shaking and tears welling up in the corners of my eyes, and slowly told them something I’d always considered a personal weakness. Immediately after sharing, I regretted it. I was certain that everyone in the group now judged me or viewed only my flaws when looking at me.

The next time we met for class, I expected some sort of awkwardness toward me from my peers, but, all the worries I’d repeated to myself never came to fruition. I felt more accepted by everyone for showing my authentic self and here appeared my second lesson in bravery: Be authentic in all you do without fear of outside judgment.

As I’ve learned over the past three months of training, the journey to self-exploration and acceptance does not necessarily mean an absence of pain, challenges or doubt. It’s the acknowledgment that much of our perception of the world is based on assumptions rather than the truth.

Over our weeks together, our teacher training group grew to become a close-knit family and support system for one another–bonding over anatomy lessons, practice teaching, self-inquiry and cheering each other on to reach personal goals and overcome obstacles.

And then the world entered unchartered territory. The definition of “normal” life has been rewritten for every human on earth. There are more questions than answers. At moments like these, anxiety, fear and stress can feel like a thick blanket heavily layered upon your shoulders.

There are so many unknowns in the world right now, but here is what I do know:

It’s been over four weeks since I’ve stepped foot in a yoga studio. Yet, my practice has strengthened to a level I didn’t know was possible. With the help of technology and a pause on life’s everyday distractions, I’ve shifted my Drishti (focus) on the internal rather than the chaos of the external. The power of my yoga practice and the lessons from yoga teacher training have lessened the burden of fear and powerlessness on my shoulders.

I’m not a certified yoga instructor and don’t know definitively when that day will come. In the midst of everything out of my control, I’ve used my extra time and energy to share the yoga practice that’s become such a pillar in my life with others. Leading friends and family in the flow I’ve come to love has brought peace, a sense of control and a deeper connection (even virtually).

Other than my husband, my face-to-face interactions with others I care about have been nearly non-existent. At a time when it could be easy to feel overwhelmingly lonely and disconnected, I truly feel stronger human connections than ever before. I miss my yoga teacher training group. I want to give them hugs and see their faces without the help of a screen. Yet, I feel their support and love despite miles between us and it’s made me appreciate it even more.

One of the tenets in our yoga teaching is “Come from we are all connected.” Here is the third lesson in bravery from my yoga teacher training: Come from we are all connected (even, and especially, when life presents the unexpected)…and we are. We’ll continue to be until we can be together, again.

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