Yoga is a recent practice in my life. Back in 2021, it started as a means to be physically healthy. What I didn't realize was that physical health leads to mental health. And mental health leads to spiritual health.
Yoga is a slow deliberate process. It's a journey. It's a practice. It's a lifestyle. It's a decision you make every day.
As I look back to 2021, I see that my yoga practice catalyzed every decision and every positive change in my life. Yoga has been central to my physical health, gratitude, community, and self-love.
In 2023, I knew I wanted to take the next step in my yoga journey. I wanted to deepen my practice and learn more about the philosophy of yoga. I wanted to learn how to teach yoga. I wanted to become a yoga teacher. So, in the fall of 2023, I embarked on a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) at YoYoYogi in Portland, Oregon.
Below are my reflections and my learnings from the training experience.
Embarking on a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2023 proved to be a challenging yet profoundly rewarding endeavor for me. It stands out as the most fulfilling experience of the year.
Victoria Erickson's poignant words aptly capture the essence of transformation:
Transformation isn't sweet and bright. It's a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unraveling of the untruths you've carried in your body. A practice in facing your own created demons. A complete uprooting before the becoming.
Undertaking a 200-hour yoga teacher training was a powerful vehicle for being truthful to myself, self-discovery, and building faith.
It was hard AF, to say the least, but it was worth it.
The Rigorous Training Structure
Undoubtedly, the 200-hour yoga teacher training demanded dedication and commitment. The curriculum encompassed a comprehensive array of elements—physical practice, queuing, sequencing, meditation, and a deep dive into yoga philosophy—spread over an enriching 9-week period.
The rigorous schedule, including weekend sessions and additional personal practice, amounted to approximately 25 hours per week.
That was so much! 😅
YoYoYogi: A Unique Community
YoYoYogi holds a unique, magical essence beyond the typical "commercial yoga experience." I joined the studio at the start of 2023, and it quickly became my sanctuary, fostering a profound sense of belonging and community.
In the middle of YTT, I actually completed 100 classes at YoYoYogi. I was so proud of myself for that accomplishment. I was also grateful for the community that I found there.
Opting for YoYoYogi for my teacher training wasn't just about its stellar reputation or the 5-star-rated program; it was about the exceptional community it provided, setting it miles apart from other studios in Portland.
World-Class Curriculum and Instructors
Another reason why I chose YoYoYogi was the world-class curriculum. YoyoyoYogi's teacher training has been running for over 10 years. The curriculum was meticulously iterated and refined over the years. It's no wonder that it's one of the most highly-rated programs in the country.
But more importantly, the curriculum was designed to help us start teaching right away! This was important to me. I wanted to learn how to teach yoga. I wanted to learn how to sequence a class. I wanted to learn how to cue poses. I wanted to learn how to build a yoga experience.
Here are the subjects that we covered in the 9 weeks:
- Exploration of asana
- The power of an authentic voice
- Trauma-informed yoga
- Yoga philosophy
- Art of sequencing
- Yin + energetic anatomy
- The yamas + the niyamas
- Physical anatomy + cuing
- Building a yoga experience
- The subtle body
- Business + ethics of yoga
Comprehensive Reading List
Supplementing the training was a meticulously curated workbook. This is the core material that we used during the 9 weeks.
The extensive reading list was a treasure trove of curated knowledge. I would recommend reading the "Founding Books" first. These books are the foundation of yoga philosophy and will help you understand the history of yoga.
The focus should still remain on the practicing sequencing and teaching. Don't get too caught up in the reading list. You can always come back to it later after you complete the training.
Here’s a full list of the texts:
- The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners by Jack Hawley
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda
- Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar
- 8 Limbs of Yoga - A Pathway to Liberation by Bhava Ram
- The Yamas and the Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele
- Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater
- The Four Desires by Rod Stryker
- The Radiance Sutras by Loren Roche
- Perfectly Imperfect by Baron Baptiste
- A New Earth by Eckart Tolle
- The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams
- Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pemo Chodron
- The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
- Meditations from the Mat by Ralph Gates
- The Pocket Pema Chodron by Pema Chodron
- Yin Yoga: Outline of a Quiet Practice by Paul Grilley
- The Key Muscles of Yoga by Ray Long
- The Key Poses of Yoga by Ray Long
- Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith
- Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith
- Yoga of the Subtle Body by Tias Little
- Your Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- Teaching Trauma Sensitive Yoga by Brendon Abram
- Overcoming Trauma through Yoga by David Emerson
Teaching My First Class
The culmination of teacher training is, you guessed it… teaching a full yoga class!
I love hot, power-aligned-based yoga classes. I wanted to teach a class that I would enjoy taking. I also wanted to teach a class that would challenge me as a teacher. So, I decided to teach a class around the Third Chakra, Manipura, focusing on twisting and flowing poses.
Manipura is the third chakra, located at the solar plexus. It is associated with the color yellow and the element of fire. It is the center of our personal power.
I wanted to incorporate my voice into the class. So, I created a playlist inspired by Latin music as well.
Teaching my first class was such a powerful experience. I learned so much about myself leading up to the class. I learned that teaching requires a lot of preparation. I learned that teaching requires a lot of practice. I learned that teaching requires a lot of courage.
My Teachers and Mentors
It might initially seem scary if you ever consider taking a yoga teacher training. I know it was for me. But I want to encourage you to take the leap. It will be worth it.
And you won't be alone. You'll have the support of your teachers and mentors. I certainly did. I was fortunate to have the support and guidance of exceptional teachers.
Kristi, Chera, and Syd were the three instructors who led the training. They were also incredibly supportive and encouraging. I had the opportunity to learn from each of them, and I am grateful for their guidance and mentorship.
Future Aspirations: Embracing the Teacher's Role
Upon completing my teacher training, the clarity of my life's mission is clear.
I am a teacher at my core—that's my life's mission.
Looking at 2024, I plan to teach yoga, but I'm also stepping into the role of an educator full-time. I want to teach people how to build thoughtful software. I want to teach people how to build the web.
I'm reminded of this quote from one of my favorite books, "Finding Ultra" by Rich Roll:
Pursue what’s in your heart, and the universe will conspire to support you.
I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue my heart's desire. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach others. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a teacher.