I believe Congratulations are in order!

Exactly one year ago, I graduated from the Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program here at Pilgrimage of the Heart. What a year it has been! Yesterday, a whole new group of teachers graduated and will now venture forth into the world. It’s exciting, scary, amazing, and life changing. Most of you have had that experience when you realize that yoga has changed your life in some way. When the driver next to you cuts you off, you don’t get mad; you laugh and find compassion for their rush. You smile at the person in front of you in the grocery store line because you appreciate random human connection. You find that you are more aware of the subtle things in your life; and you spend a lot more time thinking about your breathing! Imagine those revelations, and then imagine them pumped up on steroids. This is what happens in teacher training. It is different for each person, but the one thing that’s certain is this . . . you will grow.

When I first started YTT, one of my yoga instructor friends said “Have fun getting to know every nook and cranny of yourself.” I said to myself “Ok, sounds cool. But I’m learning how to teach yoga, not taking some intensive self-awareness seminar.” Oh silly, silly me. I really, truly began to understand when once, during one of the training workshops, I got angry. Very angry. (And I’m not really an “angry” person!) I texted my mentor and sarcastically asked if “angry and bitter are normal parts of the program”. I will never forget what he texted back. “Anger is a mask for fear and YTT isn’t just about teaching others so much. Sit down. Find out what you’re afraid of. Face that, and then you will come closer to knowing yourself. Which, of course, is the whole point.” And, as usual, he was one hundred percent correct. I was afraid.

Teaching yoga can be very scary. Especially in the beginning. You take this thing that has changed you and become a big part of your life, you learn about it, and then you turn around and try to pass that knowledge on to others. In a very public way. It’s hard to get up in front of people. It’s even harder to teach. When you are confronted in that way, you learn so much about yourself. When you find the courage to step into the role of teacher and expose a part of yourself, you grow. Anyone can learn how to teach yoga; that takes time and practice. It’s the struggles and growth and tears and revelations along the way that make YTT such an amazing experience.

So, to the new YTT grads, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You did it. This is an experience you will always remember. You have created new, lasting friendships with your fellow grads. Only they can truly understand what you went through. But that is all behind you now. Whether you end up actually teaching yoga or you use your knowledge for your personal practice doesn’t matter. Yoga is an inward journey, and you just completed one giant step. One of my favorite writers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said it best. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Go forth, new teachers. May you never stop exploring what lies within.


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