My dear friend Kay told me that I am a spiritual scientist. I thought that was the sweetest description of my journey over the last few months. I believe this title, spiritual scientist, encompasses my explorations of myself and of the world around me as I figure out where I am going next.
“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.”
― Amit Ray,
My post-corporate-job journey led me to Shakti Vinyasa in Seattle where I completed the 200 hour Teacher Training for power vinyasa based on Baptiste methodology. The studio owner, Lisa Black, developed and led this amazing program that really transformed all of the trainees into better human beings on so many levels.
Zak Endicott, Stephanie Greco and Chamonix Thurston-Rattue (all Shakti instructors) guided us through different aspects of this program with Lisa. Having such a variety of mentors to learn from kept this program exciting and energetic each day.
What is Power Yoga?
For those who are unfamiliar with what power yoga is, I found this definition in Yoga Journal:
Power Yoga is a fitness-based vinyasa practice. An offshoot of Ashtanga Yoga, it has many of the same qualities and benefits, including building internal heat, increased stamina, strength, and flexibility, as well as stress reduction. Teachers design their own sequences, while students synchronize their breath with their movement. The original Power Yoga was developed and founded by Beryl Bender Birch, but is now a term used to describe many vigorous vinyasa styles.
Of course, as I read this definition, I realize it assumes the reader understands the terminology. Therefore, I define power vinyasa as a powerful form of creative yoga that uses yoga and breath to create a dance of yoga poses that are designed to continually challenge the students.
Anyways, back to the story…
Sixteen brave souls, including myself, committed to giving up their money and their normal social life to spend 200 hours in the studio over a period of four months. I did not know what to expect and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I figured we would do a lot of yoga and learn about philosophy, sequencing and anatomy. Which we did. I was not prepared for all of the emotional self-inquiry work that we would complete. I cannot explain the process, but essentially each one of us took turns opening up and openly discussing with the group our innermost fears. Our fears of not being good enough, not being smart enough, not being perfect. Sixteen people, men and women, ranging in age from 24 to 49…from different cultures, different continents and different socio-economic backgrounds. What we discovered, in the end, was that we all have the same basic fears. We all are the same, no matter where we started from.
During this program, we also practiced a LOT of yoga asana, mostly based on the sequence from Baron Baptiste’s book Journey Into Power. Each weekend was filled with hours of asana practice each day. Followed by hours more the next day. We attended inspiring workshops led by Bryan Kest, Danielle Mika Nagel, Tina Templeman, Jodi Boone and Lisa Black.
Physically, this work transformed us. But it would not have been the same if we didn’t also delve into all of the self-inquiry work. I don’t think the physical aspect of yoga by itself could have taught us how to be ‘yogis’, let alone how to be a yoga teacher. Learning who we are as people, and what fears are causing us to stumble on our path in life is what taught us how to be good teachers.
Having such a dedicated group of students, people whom I am delighted to now call my friends, was what really made this journey so rewarding for me. It is amazing how intense programs, such as the one we completed, create new friends instantly. Whereas, you can work with some people for years and see them everyday in the cubicle and never really know who they are.
What is next?
The questions I now face is: now what? I finished training so I definitely plan to keep my eyes and ears open for any opportunities available to me to teach. I am looking into further training (Baptiste Level 1 Training and Shakti’s Teacher Mentorship Program) so that I ensure I am still moving forward upon the yogi path. And, I hope to have more time to visit local studios and share my experiences with you.
This morning, I volunteered at my daughter’s high school and taught two classes. I was really nervous ahead of time, but once the class started, it just seemed natural to me. I felt no fear or frustration, just happiness! Teaching teenagers was a treat because they were not serious about their yoga practice (so hopefully they didn’t notice the mistakes that I made). Soon, I am sure that I will find many more chances to explore my journey as a teacher.
What advice do you have for a new yoga teacher? Please comment below!
The photos in this article were provided by Konstantin at Reflet Ame Photo Studio.