Learning to Breathe Again

Learning to Breathe Again

A Beginner’s Look Into Yoga Teacher Training

“For the times where even taking the next small step seems scary, just lean forward. Take the next small step. Focus on your breathing. Go back to basics. Positioning yourself for progress is something we owe ourselves, and there’s no progress in looking back with regret or fear. Take the next best step. Make the next best decision. ”

I had just wrapped up speaking at a women’s business luncheon, where I heard myself say these words, and yet I was sitting on a decision that I should have made years ago. What stopped me from moving forward? Why wasn’t I listening to what I advised? Instead of leaning forward, I focused on preparing to take the next step. I was preparing so much, that I was frozen in the preparing stage. Yes, you can focus so much on preparing to take the next step, that you master delaying the next step. I don’t love when it’s my fault. The only thing standing in my way was me.

I remember the moment when opportunity met me, again, and I showcased my excuses why the timing wasn’t right -again. I believe God sends us guiding light to nudge us (or sometimes shove us) into our destined path, when we use negative emotions and flawed belief systems to keep us off that desired path. Only looking back do I notice when I was stubbornly holding my ground. Now, I’m quick to acknowledge the moment, the feeling, and the messenger. As I continued to vocalize the reasons I couldn’t prioritize Yoga Teacher Training -again, my loving audience met me with all the reasons it was the perfect timing. This time, I couldn’t negotiate my stance with a peaceful conscious. Instead, I found truth in the other voices -not mine. I was my limiting belief. That’s humbling, y’all.

I enrolled into class expecting to get in the best shape of my life, meeting some people with like-minded goals and interests, and to focus on practices that will make me a better runner, coach, friend, and wife. My husband and I have always prioritized our time together, but in recent years, he’s supported my business aspirations and sometimes he fell second to my next big opportunity. He doesn’t complain, but I wanted to re-organize my obligations and projects to get our time back. I wanted something that would help me slow down a bit, while still feeling fulfilled, but also get me back to putting first things first. Enter yoga teacher training.

As our student binder says, “Your life is a sacred journey. It’s about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. ” That was news to me as I first read that statement. I sat on the studio floor, meeting other women for the first time, feeling total “new girl at school ” vibes already, wondering if it was safe to leave my personal things in the lockers. If I shared honestly (and what’s the point here if I don’t?) it was a little touchy-feely for me. At this point in my life game, I was all tapped out on change, growth, discovery, and having to stretch my perspectives, desires, and goals. I was tired. Life took some twists and turns I wasn’t expecting, and I suppose I was still healing from the beat down. I was already at my edge (after all, this was all very new to me), trying to trust processes and people again, pushing my social boundaries, and staying open-minded to the fact that yoga may actually be a real workout. Skeptical much? At this point in my life game, I had just enough naïve in me to be curious and enough skepticism to keep me protected. I was in a good place for me, so adding to the mix was scary.

At the same time, I knew God hadn’t brought me this far to only bring me this far. I felt in my gut’s gut that He had been preparing me for the next level, and that the past few years were the warm up. When you’ve arrived at your comfort zone, it’s fulfilling to just sit and enjoy, right? Oh, why can’t I just sit and enjoy the ease of life? That’s right … life is a sacred journey, which implies, I need to take the next step. Got it. Let’s get to journeying, and get to stretching, so I can meet my goals. Time to take it to the mat, so to speak, right? Wrong. Some of the first expectations weren’t to stretch more, practice yoga, take daily yoga classes. They were:

Daily Meditation
Daily Reading
Daily Yoga Meal*
Daily Journaling
Monthly Service Project
(and yes) Daily Yoga Practice and Class Observations

I’m out.

Wait, my goals.

I’m back in.

All of the instructors are amazingly supportive, and state the feelings I’m feeling before I can even address them. Yes, you’ll want to quit at certain times. Yes, you’ll call b.s. on a few of the beliefs (until you find out why). Yes, you’ll cry. Several of the instructors talked about random tearing up in yoga classes, and my skeptical self scoffed. It’s stretching and breathing. How and why would a person cry? One of the first personal characteristics I became aware of in yoga teacher training is that I need expectations set. With everything! My preference is to know expectations of me, the day, the schedule, and when I would be tested. My first lesson in yoga teacher training was to have expectations and a plan, but don’t be married to either. Flexibility apparently has some virtue in the yogi world, and in life all around. Noted.

As we moved through the first few weeks, I realized I spent more time sitting than moving, which was a challenge for me because I’m supposed to get in the best shape of my life, remember? You start out with the history of yoga, the foundations of the practice and lifestyle, an anatomy class that rivals a college degree in body mechanics and maintenance, and numerous book studies. You make up for all that sitting in the second trimester of class. Second lesson -the body can accomplish so much more than we ask of it. I came into class feeling I was in decent shape, and I was, with the muscles I chose to work up to that point in my life. The 8,000 other muscles were singing the sore song loudly. I fell asleep and woke up needing something rubbed, massaged, adjusted, propped up, or soaked. I’m a self-care pro, so I had an arsenal of anti-inflammatory support ready to go, but I had no idea I would be so sore. And like clockwork, my body would soften into the next level of performance within a few days. By now, I also knew the reason for every soreness and found a remedy for each one. It is empowering to know you, alone, can care for your greatest life tool -your body, by giving it exactly what it needs in a timely manner. Throughout yoga teacher training you learn about how every body is different and how the poses will be experienced differently for everyone in your class. You also learn how to properly fuel your body, and how to enhance your classes with inspiration and aromatherapy that leave students inspired and empowered to go do life off their mat even better.

In these final weeks of class, I can tell we’re picking up the pace. The poses are more challenging. We are using the mental and emotional strengthening tools to cope and process everything well, and it’s frustrating when our test outs don’t go as well as they did in our minds. The strain of the class schedule weighs on us from time to time, but we help each other through each moment, just like a loving, compassionate friend circle does. My mindset is shifting yet again. That yoga lifestyle stuff is starting to make sense now, and I see the results of my mind shift in various areas of my life. My life has ramped up with adventure and fulfillment as my breath has slowed down. Mindfulness is precious to me, and the noise of the world is super annoying to me right now. People miss out on so much because they are too busy getting to where they are going. Another reminder confirmed during yoga teacher training is to love them from where they are. Everyone. (Yes even that person.)

You get to decide your next adventure in your life. You get to decide the next step in your journey. For me, yoga teacher training was the perfect compliment of grace and grit. Not only is yoga a real workout, it’s a work in as well. Yoga healed my heart of some limiting beliefs, and continues to expand my lens through which I see every life experience and person. In a sense, it’s better than just a workout. Yoga travels with you, and you can wear yoga in any role you play in life. Yoga is a practice. It is a journey. It is a lifestyle. Yoga grows with you and you never get too old for yoga. Yoga adds years to your life, but even better, yoga adds life to every precious moment. Even though yoga continues to be misunderstood, it finds it’s way into hearts that are open to receiving more. I am grateful to that voice that quieted my excuses. I am grateful for the God nudge to something more. As I sit here, three week to graduation, I am grateful for the expansion with every breath.

*Yogi Meal is any nourishment prepared without harming any living being, eaten slowly, without outside noise, while reflecting on life’s blessings.