I never expected myself to fall in love with any type of exercise. I always was the last person in my P.E. class to finish the mile, and during soccer practice, I spent 90 percent of my time picking the grass (and not running around the field). I’ve always gravitated toward more creative activities like writing and film. Even though I was probably the most un-athletic person ever, somehow, after going to my first hot yoga class four years ago, I became hooked.
I always came out of the room looking like a hot, sweaty mess but still felt happy and couldn’t wait to come back for more. When the pandemic started and everyone’s lives changed, I clung to yoga as the one thing that kept me grounded and motivated me to keep going. Like many people did during the extra time at home, I decided to take up a hobby. I signed up for virtual yoga teacher training through CorePower Yoga. I didn’t realize the massive impact it would have on my life even to this day.
I am so grateful for all the lessons and advice that I received, even if the whole training was held virtually. If you are considering doing the training but aren’t sure if it’s worth it, read on to see 5 ways that yoga teacher training has had a positive impact on my life.
1. It taught me to live in the moment.
I was a person who was always concerned about what was going to happen next rather than just enjoying the present. I used to see yoga as a place where I could go to rehash everything happening in my life and think about that for an hour. Because of my constant worries about the future, I missed out on so many great moments and times in my life.
During teacher training, we talked a lot about how to practice presence through breathwork and non-judgment. Although thoughts would come up throughout my practice, instead of spiraling down a rabbit hole, I would acknowledge them and just let them go. It didn’t serve me to keep worrying about things that would just stand in the way of enjoying my life as it is now. I would also focus on my breathing to make me feel more grounded and centered during my practice.
Now, whenever I feel overwhelmed and like I can’t enjoy the things or people in front of me, I try to recenter myself through my breath and let all thoughts pass by. It helps me observe my surroundings more and really take everything happening in front of me as it comes. I no longer spend so much time worrying about the past or the future because, truthfully, it’s not something I need to worry about just yet.
2. It taught me to have gratitude and appreciation for what I have.
I started teacher training at a pretty rough place for me personally. I’d just gone through a difficult breakup, the pandemic was at its worst, and life had pretty much turned into FaceTime calls and Zoom lectures. As I’m sure many can relate, I felt very alone and isolated from everyone in my life.
When we were told during training to write down 10 things we were grateful for right now, I remember staring blankly at my piece of paper and thinking to myself, “How am I supposed to come up with 10 things when the whole world is falling apart?” A lot of people had similar thoughts as me, which led the teacher to talk about finding gratitude and thankfulness in the small things, even if times are difficult.
Gratitude gives us a sense of hope during dark times. It helped me shift my perspective on the way that I viewed life when I realized how much I had to be grateful for. Even though times were hard, I was blessed to be able to live in a safe place surrounded by my loved ones. Now, every day, I try to make a list of small things I am thankful for in the present moment. It makes me feel more positive and hopeful.
3. It taught me patience.
My family is definitely pretty impatient in general. When we used to go to Disneyland, we could barely wait in a line for an hour without getting in some sort of argument. Since yoga is a practice that is all about patience, I really struggled with it.
When I would see people doing headstands or some other crazy yoga posture, I would get upset with myself when I couldn’t do the same thing. I felt like I was falling behind when I couldn’t master certain postures or remember all the parts of a sequence. I just wished I could get it down. But what I realized is that things don’t happen overnight. Even the lead teachers admitted that they were still in the process of working on certain postures that didn’t come easy to them.
Although I still desperately wish I could go into a full headstand, I know that it takes time and patience. So do a lot of things in life, and sometimes we just need to be patient and let everything happen when it’s supposed to.
4. It taught me to prioritize taking care of myself.
Before teacher training, I didn’t put that much effort into caring for myself and putting my mental health before everything else in my life. I always took on so much that it took a toll on me emotionally. I didn’t give myself a break to relax and take time for myself. In teacher training, I finally got the opportunity to really focus on doing things that make me feel good, like journaling and meditation. It really allowed me to see that I shouldn’t sacrifice my mental health for anything.
I now block time out in my day to take a break and journal or even do a short yoga flow. My mind is much more clear, and I’m able to focus better on things like school and work. I can now see the negative effects that taking on too many responsibilities and putting too much pressure on myself have. It not only made me feel pessimistic, but it also impacted my mood, which then affected everyone around me. We deserve to take time out of our days to do something just for ourselves.
5. It taught me to no longer be afraid of being vulnerable.
I used to never want to show people a certain side of me that was more emotional because I thought people would believe that I wasn’t strong. Throughout my yoga teacher training, we learned a lot about the strength in vulnerability. Everyone has flaws, but why should we have to hide them around other people? We’re not perfect, and that’s OK. It’s OK if we fall out of a pose or need help. Opening up to someone or asking for help actually shows how courageous you are, and other people probably will be able to relate to you even more.
Being vulnerable has not only helped me in my yoga practice but also with my writing. I was so afraid to write about my own experiences or struggles in life because I thought people would judge me, but the only person judging me was myself. When I shared parts of myself in my writing that I normally never talked about, people actually responded in a positive way. It taught me not to be afraid of showing my true self.