XoStephMorgan Stephanie Morgan Chicago

I found yoga about when I was going through an extremely hard time in my life. My anxiety and depression had hit an all-time high, I wasn’t happy with my career, and I often found myself comparing my life to all the amazing models I followed on Instagram. I started going to my local yoga studio more and more to disconnect from the outside world and to tune into myself. It was one of the only hours in the day where I could put down my phone and concentrate on me.

There would be days that a teacher would offer a mantra in class that resonated so deeply with me, and it would help me get through the day. Yoga has helped me get through my most difficult times, and that’s why I made the decision to go through teacher training. I want to help others, just as my teachers helped me.

When I first decided to register for Hot Yoga Teacher Training back in December, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I knew I would be learning to teach a sequence of postures, but other than that I had zero expectations about what I would learn in the following 13 weeks. I didn’t know that I was about to embark on one of the most transformational experiences of my life. Here’s what I learned on my journey through Hot Power Fusion Yoga Teacher Training:

There’s so much more to yoga than just postures

 When I first started practicing yoga, I was initially drawn to the workout aspect of the practice. I knew very little of the history or tradition of yoga before I began Teacher Training. Our lectures were such an eye opener and helped me gain a better understanding of why we do our practice the way we do.  Did you know yoga originally began as an ethical/moral code back in Ancient India? In yoga, we still try to connect our practice to the 8 limbed path, which is a step by step path towards self-realization, or union with the universal self. (Deep, I know!)  Asanas, or postures, are just one of eight limbs of yoga. So yes, the workout aspect plays a part in in the yoga whole, but it is certainly not the whole.

The 8 Limbs of Yoga are:

  • YAMA: Restraints, moral disciplines or a moral code
  • NIYAMA: Positive duties or observances
  • ASANA: Postures
  • PRANAYAMA: Breathing techniques
  • PRATYAHARA: Sense withdrawal
  • DHARANA: Focused concentration
  • DHYANA: Meditation
  • SAMADHI: Bliss or enlightenment

The five Yamas, self-regulating behaviors involving our interactions with other people, include:

  • AHIMSA: Nonviolence
  • SATYA: Truthfulness
  • ASTEY: Non-Stealing
  • BRAHMACHARYA: Non-Excess
  • APARIGRAHA: Non-Possessiveness/Non-Greed

The five Niyamas, personal practices that relate to our inner world, include:

  • SAUCHA: Purity or Cleanliness
  • SANTOSHA: Contentment
  • TAPAS: Self-Discipline
  • SVADHYAYA: Self-study/Inner exploration

Yoga extends far beyond the flexible poses you see on Instagram. Even though it is an awesome workout, there is so much more to it than that. Yoga is a way of being, a way of treating others, a way of treating yourself! It is a full connection between mind, body and soul. The best part about yoga is that it can be practiced in your daily life, even when you’re not on your mat.

When I approach my daily activities from a yoga perspective, I am better at everything I do because I try to live in the present moment, am true to myself, and stay open and flexible (even in the most difficult circumstances). I find myself much calmer in situations where I used to have high stress or anxiety, simply because of my ability to come back to my breath.  I also try give each task my full attention, and approach life with an open mind.

You’ll never be 100% ready. Sometimes you just need to do things

At no point in the last 13 weeks did I ever feel 100% ready to teach – I remember being so nervous that I was actually shaking before I taught my first HPF class. It’s not easy to get up in front of a group of strangers and teach, but it’s even harder to teach a sequence you are not super comfortable speaking through yet.

Even when I was nervous and unsure of my abilities, I still did it, and I felt amazing after I finished. You’re never going to be 100% ready and it’s never going to be just the right time, but if you want it you just have to go for it and do it. Fake it until you become it. 

It’s okay to be overwhelmed – Trust the process and learn to let go of what does not serve you, both on your mat and off  

In all honesty, I was definitely not prepared for how overwhelmed I would be. Between lectures, learning the sequence, practice teaching, observing outside classes, taking classes at other yoga studios, homework, essays, journaling, reading a book, leaning human anatomy, learning about chakras, learning the history of yoga, memorizing Sanskrit, doing community service with my group, and taking 60 classes (no, that’s not a typo – we are required to take 60 yoga classes during our training in order to get our teaching certificate) all while modeling, blogging, and working a full-time job, it was a challenge to say the least.

In yoga, we learn to breathe into the most difficult postures. When we are experiencing difficult holds or balancing poses, we are taught to breath into that space and concentrate on our breath to help guide us through. This is something that can be translated off the mat as well. When life gets tough and overwhelming and scary, I’ve learned how to breathe through my most difficult tasks.

Yoga teacher training was no different. Our TT leaders pressed the idea that we should breathe into the process and allow ourselves time to absorb all the information we learned. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to be vulnerable does not come without challenges. They pressed the idea of having compassion towards yourself as we entered new territory, and to be patient and prioritize the journey over reaching any sort of specific destination.

I met an incredible community of strangers who became friends

One of my favorite parts of Teacher Training was the people I got to meet during the process. I was in a class with 9 other students, and 6 teachers. I am so lucky to have gone through my training with such an amazing group of people. Everyone was so supportive and willing to help each other learn and grow. I met some of the most inspiring and incredible people, and we each had something different to bring to the table. I began class with a group of strangers, and left with an amazing group of friends.

I found a voice I never knew I had  

One of the most important parts of being a yoga teacher is being able to bring out your authentic self when you teach. Trust me – it’s much easier said than done. Speaking in front of a large group of people has never been my strongest attribute, but when you’re a teacher, it’s obviously a very important aspect of your position. I remember being terrified teaching our first public class. But even though I was shaking and nervous, and feeling very vulnerable, I remember finishing teaching my section for the first time and having this incredible feeling of self-accomplishment and pride. For the first time in a long time, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I will always be a student

Being a yoga teacher does not mean that you know everything and are all powerful. With yoga (and most things in life) we are always learning, always growing, and always striving to become better. There is so much to learn from our practice, and every time we step on our mats, we evolve and learn more about ourselves.

I would love to hear from you guys – do you have any questions about teacher training? Are you considering going through process? Let me know in the comments section below! Namaste

*NOTE: This is NOT a paid post or product promotion article. I genuinely love the brands I write about and was not given any money or free products for my review.

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