Airplanes & Arizona- Road Trip Part Two

Airplanes & Arizona- Road Trip Part Two

So where did I leave off… oh that’s right, I was just about to fill you all in on a surprise we had waiting for us in Arizona! We were headed towards the Scottsdale, Arizona area to meet up with some of Bryan’s family. Bryan’s cousin Mark had just recently received his pilot’s license and offered to take us up in a private plane ride over some of the local canyons! We were both so excited for this opportunity, and incredibly grateful. How many people can say that they had the chance to experience a gift like this? We arrived at the airport and met up with Mark who proceeded to show us the tiny plane we would by flying in. I had never been in a plane so small! Nervousness began to mix with excitement as we began the take off. Turbulence is much more noticeable in a small plane like this, but Mark did an excellent job of flying us as smoothly and safely as possible. Bryan even had the chance to steer the plane for a few moments as well. Seeing the Arizona landscape from the air was beyond breathtaking; I almost felt as if I were dreaming. This was truly a highlight of our trip, and something we will never forget.

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View from the plane!

After the plane ride, we headed back towards Bryan’s Aunt’s house, and had dinner with them. They were such a sweet family, and his Aunt also baked the most delicious chocolate chip cookies. Later that evening they all shared some tips for our upcoming travels into northern Arizona. We headed north towards Sedona the following morning.

Sedona is absolutely incredible, almost as if you have teleported to some magical other worldly planet. The red rocks expand out from the earth and contrast beautifully with the blue hue of the sky. We had decided to spend several days in Sedona so that we could truly get a feel for the area. We ended up renting the most amazing Air BnB where we stayed for three nights. The couple who owned it were both yoga instructors as well, and getting to know them made our stay even better. IMG_1895

While in town we had the opportunity to work with another yogi/ photographer I knew who helped create some beautiful images for us. He shared some great insider knowledge of the area, and it was a blessing to make another connection. Those photos are probably my most treasured material souvenir from the trip, and are something we will look back on years from now with even more fondness.

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Charles Ruscher Photography

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We spent a couple more days in the area doing some hiking, and celebrating Bryan’s birthday. We decided to hike up Bell rock, which is also known for its energy vortexes. The hike was beautiful, and quite challenging at some points because the rock face was quite slick/steep. We made it up as far as we could go, and sat there for a few moments admiring the stunning landscape around us. After our hike we were in need of some refreshment. I had been craving an acai berry bowl, and convinced Bryan to get one too. It ended up being incredibly delicious. (In fact, even now as I am writing this my mouth is starting to water just thinking about it!) Later that evening we got sushi per tradition for his birthday. Overall, I think that it made for a very memorable birthday for him, and it was so special that I got to be a part if it too.

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The next day we spent some time exploring the downtown Sedona area, browsing through some of the cute hippie shops and getting a better feel for the area in general. We took a good part of the day just to relax, and enjoy being in one place for a moment. We had dinner with our hosts, and camped out in a tent that night under the Sedona stars.

The next morning we made our way to the original goal of our journey: The Grand Canyon! This is a point in our journey where we should have taken time before to make a reservation, but we lucked out and were able to snag a tent site for two nights. We went out and saw the sunset over the canyon that evening. It was gorgeous, and it was almost as if your eyes couldn’t fathom how massive the canyon was. It was also more touristy than I had expected it to be, but it is a world wonder after all! We camped out that night, and it was absolutely freezing. It’s just all part of the experience, but we were surely happy when the sun came out and began to warm things up. We headed out fairly early, and decided to do a hike down into the canyon. We took the Kaibab Trail down into the Canyon around 4 miles or so. It was much easier going down, than coming back up! The amazing views were absolutely worth it though, and helped give us an entirely different perspective on the canyon itself.

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We came back to our campsite that evening only to find that it was so windy our tent had almost blown over, and that some of the poles holding it up had cracked! It was not the most pleasant way to spend the evening, but Bryan and I managed to work together as a team and get it back into a somewhat upright position. It was another very chilly night, and both of us were looking forward to sleeping somewhere warmer soon. We headed towards Page, Arizona the following morning.

On our way to Page, we spent the majority of the drive moving along the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was amazing that after almost two hours of continuous driving the canyon was still in sight! We eventually made our way up to Page, where we had booked another Air BnB for the night. That evening we decided to explore Horseshoe bend, which is where the Colorado river loops around and makes a horseshoe shape (hence the name.) It was also quite a sight to behold, although it too was really crowded. There were also so many gnats flying around which was not something I expected either. We stayed and  watched the sun begin its descent as the sky transformed into pretty shades of purple and pink, and then headed out to get Thai food for dinner.

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The following morning I had scheduled a tour for us of Antelope Canyon. This as well as Horseshoe bend and the Grand Canyon had been on my bucket list for quite some time. Antelope canyon is one of the most photographed places in the world, and I can certainly see why. The incredible movement of water has shaped these fiery colored rocks into amazing waves and shapes. The canyon is on Navajo land, and the tour is held by the native people. The guides are very knowledgeable, and although they keep you moving along because there are other tour groups behind you, it is still a very enjoyable experience. The guides were very good about pointing out different shapes in the stone formations; one even looked like Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo.

After our tour of Antelope we continued northbound towards Utah, but I think I’ll save more of our other adventures for the next post.

Thanks again for reading! Look forward to hearing about Utah, Nevada, and California in the next post coming soon. 🙂

Love,

Em

Born to Roam- A Road Trip Adventure (Part one)

Born to Roam- A Road Trip Adventure (Part one)

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

The last day in March of this year (2017) my wonderful boyfriend and I embarked on the trip of a lifetime. I had never been on a trip quite like this before, and I was so happy I would be able to share seeing so many amazing places with someone whom I love so much. It had been months in the making, and we were incredibly excited about the stunning views and experiences that we were sure awaited us. We planned to leave from my home in Virginia and head west, eventually hoping to make it all the way to the west coast. We had a very general plan about places we wanted to see along the way, but no real set in stone plans of dates or reservations. We thought it would work best to just allow the road to take us along, and we would enjoy every moment along the way. This proved to be a good idea for the most part, although I suggest if you do something like this to make sure you make reservations ahead of time for some of the areas that may be more popular along your route.

IMG_6204Our route took us through Tennessee where we spent some time in Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis. In Nashville we discovered a great vegan restaurant called the Sunflower cafe. ( Insert huge smile here… I love sunflowers!) We used the app “HappyCow” to find it. This app was a big help for us because we are both vegan/ vegetarian and finding suitable food can bit a bit of a challenge on the road. We then continued on through Arkansas where we did some hiking in the Ozark mountains which was really lovely, and passed through Oklahoma where we stopped and saw some beautiful Native American handiwork.

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After this we went on toward northern Texas where we decided to stop and see a state park called Palo Duro Canyon. It’s apparently the second largest canyon in the United States besides the Grand Canyon. It was very beautiful, and at that time I couldn’t imagine how the Grand Canyon could possibly be even bigger! Although this place was visually appealing, unfortunately it was also the site of a very unfortunate occurrence on our trip. Someone broke into our car here, and stole some very valuable things such as my laptop and wallet. Although this was a very upsetting event at the the time, I feel I am able to look back on it now and see it as a valuable lesson. I urge anyone on a road trip to please be careful of instances such as this. Apparently car break ins are the number one crime in America. Also, during this event I very distinctly remember in the midst of my disbelief and anguish, that a beautiful sunset was occurring over the canyon. It was as if the universe was saying to me, “There is still so much love and light that exists in this world, please do not forget this.” I also extend my thanks to the kind park police officer who was so very helpful to us in this time of need, my boyfriend Bryan who was so very supportive, and last but certainly not least my mom who helped me with all of the more logistical issues. Well, enough with the not so happy stuff, let’s move on to more exciting adventures!

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Palo Duro Canyon

As you could imagine we were fairly eager to leave Texas behind us, and move on towards New Mexico. It was actually snowing in New Mexico as we drove through, and we had to be extremely careful on the road. We made our way to Santa Fe where we stopped for the evening. I definitely recommend checking out this city! It is very clean, and has a very beautiful mix of cultures. There are lots of cool shops to check out downtown, and the food choices are great as well ( even for vegans). From Santa Fe, we headed towards Taos, New Mexico where my friend Monica from my graduate school program lives. It was wonderful to catch up with her and her husband, and such a treat to stay in a home instead of a hotel room. We stayed with her for a couple of days, and explored the Taos area while we were there. We saw the Rio Grande bridge and spent most of the day at a hot springs/ spa called Ojo Caliente. It is absolutely amazing and I cannot recommend visiting there enough. They have several different hot springs as well as a mud bath. It was just what we needed after driving longs days on end, and it helped us relax and unwind.

The following day we went back to Ojo and took one of my friends yoga classes. It was great to get back into the practice, which had been a bit lacking with all of our time spent in the car. And of course it was great to share in the space of a lovely teacher as well. After class we bid Monica adieu, and headed further west towards Arizona.

On our way to Arizona we stopped at a park called the painted desert. It reminded me of pictures I had seen of the “badlands” in South Dakota. This was perhaps one of the most beautiful surprises on our trip. Bryan and I both really enjoyed the beautiful color variation you could see in the earth. It was mind blowing to imagine all the thousands of years of history that this earth contains. Bryan and both remarked about ancient creatures living here at one time such as dinosaurs. The park also had very cool pieces of petrified wood scattered throughout as well.

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We stayed in a town outside of the park that night in one of the coolest motels I have ever seen! Its called the Wigwam motel and you actually get to stay inside your own private teepee. 10/10 recommend this place as well if you’re in the mood for something a little different. Our plans were to drive towards the Scottsdale/ Phoenix Arizona area the next day. Bryan had some family who lived in this area and we planned to stay with them. His cousin also had a very exciting surprise for us in store. However, I will save that for the next blog post!

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Keep your eyes out for the next post; I’ll fill you in about some exciting places such as the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Page, and then onto Utah, Nevada, and California!

Until then, thanks so much for reading!

Love,

Em

What’s your hidden talent?

There are often certain qualities that are valued more than others in any particular culture or society. This means that people who possess these more highly valued skills are perceived as more successful, and leaves those with other talents feeling undervalued. This can even apply to certain personality traits such as extroversion and introversion. In American culture, extroversion is often more highly valued, and this leaves many introverts feeling inferior. In order to appreciate these other traits, we have to change our perspective on them.

To get into a more personal aspect of this, I am going to share a little bit more about myself. I have always been considered a quiet person, or so I am told from those close to me. I agree with this, as I am always more willing to listen than to speak. Even the tone of my voice is very soft, and throughout school years I have been teased for how quiet and soft spoken I am. I used to be embarrassed of this quality, which truly only exacerbated the issue with me speaking out even less so. My perspective of myself was that my voice was a weakness, and therefore I should strengthen or change it in some way.

I spent some time during my college years pursuing more outgoing pursuits that helped me gain confidence in my speaking, and eventually went on to pursue getting my yoga teacher certification. Although, I was very excited to pursue this opportunity I was also quite nervous because I knew it involved speaking in front of groups of people. However, I received encouraging feedback from my teachers and fellow trainees. What surprised me most time after time was that many said I had the “perfect” yoga voice. Imagine my surprise! These people did not have any idea what that small compliment  truly meant to me. What I had once perceived as one of my biggest weaknesses could now be considered a strength. My voice had found a purpose that suited it. It was never that anything was “wrong” with it, I just needed to see it from another point of view.

I think sometimes in our lives, we do not realize the gifts we have been given to share. For whatever reason that may be, it can be quite the task to understand that perhaps what makes you stand out can be what the world needs most. Instead of seeing those qualities we or others dislike about us as purely negative, maybe we can find a way to change our perspective and turn them into something that is useful and worthwhile. This could mean finding a career or hobby that allows your particular talent or trait to shine. Mine happened to be teaching yoga and guiding deep relaxations with my soft voice. It still isn’t the best suited for some things, but I found an option where it can be positive and useful. Once you gain confidence in the newfound perspective of your abilities it can vastly improve your well being.

So I ask you, is there something about yourself that you have decided to see in a negative light? It may not always be the case for all things, but perhaps instead of forgoing that trait altogether you can shape it into something it is good for. Your talent may not be so hidden after all. Best of luck with whatever it may be! 🙂

On why I don’t eat green eggs & ham

On why I don’t eat green eggs & ham

I’d like to first start off by saying that this blog post is a little scary for me to write. I know there is a lot of controversy that goes in both directions when people discuss going to a vegetarian/vegan life style or plant based diet. (There are differences in those terms which I will go into a bit later.) However, I truly just want this post to be about sharing a little of my own experience in making the switch including some of the struggles and benefits I have had personally. I also hope this post will help people who may be interested or curious about what it all means, but this post is certainly not meant to put down anyone who does not choose to live this way. I do ask that as you are reading please keep an open mind and heart.

imageMy first experience with vegetarianism actually began in high school. After taking a class that was based on agribusiness and seeing the process of this up close I decided that I did not want to eat meat anymore. I was met with backlash by my family and friends who simply did not understand. Many simply were trying to look out for my well being because they believed that you could not live a healthy life style without having meat as a part of your diet. I must admit that I did not thoroughly research before I made the switch and mainly ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Which is not healthy either, but at least I had a semblance of an understanding haha.)

Moving on to my time in college, and I actually fell off of the bandwagon a bit. I moved to more of a pescetarian diet which includes fish and other seafood, but not poultry or other types of meat. For the most part I felt this was a healthy change as I ate quite a bit of salmon and have always been a seafood fan. I actually still struggle with keeping this out of my diet a bit, but after doing more research I feel that is is the right choice. (for myself at least.) Later on in college I fell off the bandwagon all together, but was always still curious and interested in how food and nutrition affected your body, mind, and soul.

Shortly after graduating from college, I went to obtain my yoga teacher certification. The school I went to served a fully vegetarian diet there, with many vegan options as well. During my time there I learned more and more about the health benefits of switching to a vegetarian diet, and even more so a vegan one ( also free of dairy and eggs). It definitely helped that the food cooked here was absolutely delicious, and being surrounded by people who were knowledgable in the area was helpful as well.

After graduating from this program, I decided I wanted to stick to the vegetarian or plant based diet and work toward a vegan life style as well. I knew this would be no easy task… mostly because I am currently still living with my family who does not necessarily hold the same views about the subject that I do. I amped up my will power though, and decided to push through. This was important to me, and something I truly believed in! I must be honest that I have not been perfect in sticking to this plan( especially during travels it can be difficult) but I can confidently say that I have made many steps forward in this process. I have completely cut meat out of my diet with the exception of some seafood tastings in my travels abroad, and am making big steps forward into cutting dairy and other animal products out of my diet and lifestyle as well.

I also want to acknowledge that I understand this can be a difficult transition for many people. We live in a culture which really revolves around the meat industry, and is often reinforced by advertisements of those products as well. However, I also want to express that if this is a change you want to make, it is definitely possible. I actually think that transitioning to this kind of diet or lifestyle is actually easier now than ever before. There is a whole wealth of information available about how to do it in a healthy way, and also there are many alternative substitutes available! (Thank you Ben and Jerry for making vegan ice cream!)

As for me, it has been such a rewarding journey so far, although it has definitely had its ups and downs.Upon first removing dairy and eggs from my diet I felt a loss of energy, but after finding an adequate B12 supplement I feel better and more energized than ever. I feel like I have more of a glow to my skin then I did before, a clearer and more vibrant mind as well, and many other benefits I can go into more. ( If interested let me know and I can address it further.) Besides these more physical and mental benefits, I also feel like I have grown in my spiritual love with the world around me…especially an even deeper compassion for animals. I always have considered myself an animal lover, but feel that I have a much better understanding and appreciation for them now.

Overall, making this choice was the right thing for me. My parents are still not entirely onboard, but are slowly coming around. It has been more fun educating them than anything else. Everyone moves at different paces in this journey and I feel like I am moving forward at a good one. I am working on transitioning even more so into the vegan life style by also being conscious of cosmetic and clothing products too.

By no means am I telling any of you readers what to do, but perhaps just be open to a lifestyle such as this. There are astronomical benefits not only for yourself health wise, but also for the health and well being of the planet and its other inhabitants. Many people tend to think that they cannot make a difference because they are just one person, but truly you can. Even just a a small positive change in yourself can send a ripple effect through those you are surrounded by. One of my favorite quotes is by a lovely lady named Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

If anyone is interested in more details of why I made the change ( including some of the health end environmental benefits) please let me know and I would be more than happy to discuss them! I also have a lot of information including documentaries, books, websites, and even some really yummy recipes and other great products I have discovered if you’d like to learn more. I am still very much learning myself, and continue to find new information everyday.

Thank you so much for reading and keeping your heart and mind open! 🙂

 

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For Love & Elephants

For Love & Elephants

I just recently arrived back from an amazing trip to Cape Town,  South Africa. Why did I go there you ask? Well primarily to visit my best friend Chloe, who had been studying abroad there for the past year. She had offered for me to visit, and I felt like I couldn’t possibly pass up such a wonderful opportunity. I also missed her like crazy, and to be reunited in such a beautiful place seemed almost too good to be true! Also I am a huge elephant lover and this trip gave me the chance to interact with these beautiful creatures up close.

After an exhausting 15 hour flight to Johnannesburg (where a a not so nice man took 300 rand from me), followed by another 2 hour flight… I finally arrived in Cape Town! Chloe and I had a movie like reunion and ran into others arms; it almost felt like we had never been apart.

When I had arrived on the plane it was night time, but as we went out and explored the following day I was absolutely astounded by the beautiful scenery. Especially the mountains that seemed to rise up from almost nowhere into the bright blue sky. We had traveled to an area outside of Cape Town called Stellenbosch where Chloe attended University. This area was considered wine country so we took a trip to a lovely winery where we sampled some finely crafted beverages.

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Also while in Stellenbosch Chloe showed me around the University which had some lovely hiking trails where we got in a bit of exercise. We checked out another winery where they had a wine and chocolate tasting. (I personally enjoyed the chocolate more than the wine.)IMG_0934

After spending a couple of days in the wine country we decided to make our way back into Cape Town to check out the city. She took me to a place called the Old Biscuit Mill which was a cool little shopping area that had a nice farmer’s market with lots of delicious food. I even found a stall that sold yummy vegan treats. Afterwards, we went to the waterfront area of the city, checked out all of the cool boats, and eventually found a roof top area where we could look out over the harbor. We also walked along the promenade area of Cape town which borders on the ocean, and checked out a nice cafe along the way.IMG_1060

The next day Chloe’s other good friend Ebba was arriving for a visit as well. We met her at the Air bnb we were renting and decided to go out for sushi. I immediately liked Ebba ( I had never met her before) and we quickly became close friends. After relaxing for a bit that afternoon, we went to a nice beach restaurant called Caprice where we did some dancing and walked out on the beach.IMG_1131

The following days were a blur of excitement and adventure! We explored the colorful area of Bo-Kaap, the top of Table Mountain which is a must see in Cape Town, hiked our way up Lions head in the dark, and also checked out the beautiful gardens of Kirstenbosch. Then we also began a road trip to the area of Plettenberg bay where we stopped to see the elephants along the way!IMG_1254IMG_1398

Seeing the elephants was literally a dream come true. I have admired these creatures for many years, read many books about their lives,donated to various elephant causes,  and have even explored different volunteer opportunities to work with them hands on. Although I did not get to spend a great deal of time with them while there, I was able to feed them, and even give one a hug and kiss. These gentle giants truly radiate a peacefulness that is felt so strongly in their presence. We also got to see them interacting with one another, and you could feel the bonds of love and family between the animals. It is certainly an experience I will always hold near and dear in my heart. I hope to get to spend more time with them in the future, and offer my help in any way I am able. IMG_1524IMG_1550

After leaving the elephants we spent some time in the coastal town of Plettenberg Bay, where we spent time on the beach doing some yoga and then grabbing a bite to eat. We then headed back to the city the following day. We checked out some of the night life in the city, and spent time with some of the new friends we had made during our time there.

The next day we sent Ebba on her way to Namibia where she was participating in an internship. It was sad to see her go, but I was so happy and grateful to have made a such an awesome new friend. We made plans to have more adventures in the future.

It was now coming down to the end of my time in South Africa as well. I decided to spend my last day exploring an area called Boulder’s beach. There you can actually walk out on a beach and spend time with penguins! (Which are actually my second favorite animal after elephants.) Chloe and I spent a good amount of time just sitting on the boulders of the beach (hence the name) talking about life, and what an amazing time we had together. I remarked that I always had some of best conversations looking over the great expanse of the ocean. There is something so humbling about seeing how small you are next to it, but also so inspiring that it is a part of you as well.IMG_1748IMG_1896

I made my way back to the states the next day. It was a hard place to leave… there is so much beauty and love that can be found there. I left feeling that I had not only reconnected with someone I loved, but  found an even deeper connection as well. There is something so special about sharing an experience like that with someone. It ties you together forever, not only to each other, but to the place itself.

I left a piece of my heart in Africa… with the people, and of course the elephants too. 🙂

 

My life as a dog mom

About 4 months ago in early December, I had the pleasure of adopting the most perfect little fur baby into my life. After much convincing to my parents, ( who are graciously allowing me to live with them rent free as I get my teaching hours in and go back to grad school) I drove three hours to pick up a beautiful little bundle of fur who I named Luna. She is an Australian Shepherd who I hope to train to become a therapy dog. One of the most striking features about her is that she has two different colored eyes. One eye is blue, and the other is brown. An old Native American legend states that dogs with two different colored eyes can see both heaven and earth. Certainly a beautiful sentiment regardless of whether it is true or not.

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Throughout the first month of Luna’s life in her new family there were all of the typical puppy mishaps. Pee and poop on the floor. Crying in the middle of the night. Chewing on shoes and fingers and many more. Surprisingly she quickly grew out of these bad habits. Australian Shepherds are said to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds, so perhaps she caught on quickly to our exclamations of “LUNA…NOOOOO! NOT IN THE HOUSE!” Alas, whatever the reason, my family and I were all very pleased with her acquired skill. I also began working with her on how to sit, lie down, and stay. She has these all but mastered now three months later. ( Well at least with some incentives from some yummy treats.)

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It has been so rewarding to see her grow not only physically, but as her little brain has matured as well. She has been such a wonderful addition to my family, and my parents refer to themselves as her grammy and grandpa. Every time my mom exclaims “Luna come to Grammy!” I just can’t help but smile. My dad loves playing with her and squeaking her stuffed hedgehog so many times that I think the squeaker will just flat give out. She truly is a member of our family, and I am so grateful to have her in my life. She has brought our already strong family even closer.

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She is coming up on her six month birthday mark in April. I’m sure we will be celebrating with a tasty bone, and some sort of rubber animal toy. I hope to start her in obedience classes soon to help get her ready for her chance to be a therapy dog in the future. I will keep you all updated with how this journey goes.

Raising a dog is very rewarding, but it is certainly a large responsibility and has taught me a lot about that area of my life. Without the help of my parents, I would not be able to accomplish all the tasks that I do and I am extremely thankful for that. Overall, I wouldn’t change a thing and I am looking forward to seeing her grow into a beautiful adult dog one day. Hopefully, sometime soon you will see her and I walking around with her therapy dog vest and a proud dog mom smile on my face.

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Becoming a Yoga Teacher

Before I jump right into my experience of getting my yoga teacher certification, let me explain to you why I wanted to become one in the first place. I did not actually begin the practice of yoga until I entered my freshman year of college when I discovered the gym of my university offered a class. I decided to try it out, and absolutely loved the sense of peace and contentment I felt when the class was over. I had assumed yoga was just like any other fitness class.( Which even nowadays people sometimes see yoga as just another form of exercise.) However, it goes so far beyond the idea of fitness. If you go back to the roots of yoga, which go beyond when world religions were first created, you find that the physical movements of yoga were put into place to help make the body more flexible so that meditation would be less difficult. (This is where it comes in handy for those of us who tend to fidget and can’t sit still for long periods of time.) Yoga itself is meant to be a type of moving meditation helping to quiet the mind so that one can discover the inner peace within themselves.

It was this idea of finding peace and contentment that truly made me fall in love with the practice. I definitely enjoyed the movement and healing benefits of the different poses, but being able to help heal the mind, and even the spirit was so intriguing to me. To back pedal just a bit, I studied psychology as my major in college. I hoped to be able to counsel others in some way and help people work through different mental and emotional issues. I also wanted to be able to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves. I wanted to teach others to take care of themselves in all ways; including nutrition, exercise, and other various health avenues as well. It was not until I gained awareness of all the combined benefits of teaching yoga that I realized it had the possibility to allow me to help others with all of those things. Some famous yogi once said something along the lines of, “where modern psychology ends, yoga begins.” So it was after this realization, that I knew that I would become a yoga teacher, and hopefully go even beyond that point to become a yoga therapist. (They have extensive anatomy and yoga philosophy teaching beyond the average teacher and can help people with severe physical disabilities as well as mental illnesses heal.)

So enough with the background story… let me tell you about my experience of actually getting my yoga certification. Upon researching different training programs I was amazed to find that there was a place called Yogaville only about an hour and a half from my hometown. This quaint yoga ashram was founded by Swami Satchidinanda and is located in the blue ridge mountains of Buckingham, VA. How had I not known about this place?! But the universe works in mysterious ways, and it often places knowledge in your life at the perfect time. I researched further into the Yogaville training programs and found that they offered month long intensive teacher training courses. This means you basically lived at the ashram for a month and practiced and learned about yoga 24/7. This probably would’t necessarily be ideal for everyone, but it sounded perfect to me! A program was coming up in October and I put my application in. After anxiously waiting to hear back, I found out that I was accepted to the program!! I can’t even begin to describe my eagerness and excitement.IMG_7486

A few weeks later I made the drive out into what seemed like the middle of nowhere and arrived at Yogaville. I was nervous about exactly what to expect and hoped that I would have the skills necessary to pass the course. Upon first walking in the academy doors I was greeted by some of the kindest souls I have ever had the chance of meeting. I was instantly put at ease, only to have my picture captured by one of the staff as she explained to me that they always took a before and after photo of the teachers in training so at the end of the process we would look and back and see our own personal growth. I thought this was a really beautiful idea, and I pondered how I would change and grow along this journey. IMG_7478

Throughout the training we practiced yoga daily, meditated several times daily as well, and had several different classes a day focusing on topics such as health, anatomy, Raja yoga, the philosophy of yoga, and many more that I am probably failing to include. It was certainly a lot of work and long days. It was all made easier by the wonderful fellow teacher trainees that were going through the process along with me though. In some ways I feel like I learned more from them in this journey than anything else.  The staff were also amazing and were there to help guide us through this yoga adventure. In them as well as my fellow teachers in training I felt an intense and deep connection that I knew would go far beyond our time at the ashram.IMG_7451

After a couple weeks of studying and hard work getting through our midterm exam, and learning the art of teaching a class all the way through, it was time for us to have our teacher qualification. We had learned a tremendous amount of knowledge over the past month, but many were still nervous about passing this final test. We had to be able to teach an assigned set of different poses, explain the benefits of each one, as well as teaching a deep relaxation, and breathing practices all within an allotted amount of time. By some miracle, (and a whole lot of time studying and practicing) I passed my qualifier and officially became a teacher! I do not exaggerate that this was one of the happiest days of my life. Happier even than my college graduation I had experienced just a few months beforehand. I was also extremely happy for and proud of my now fellow teachers who had also made their way through the process.

We were now at the end of our time together and graduation was upon us all. Family and friends came to see us as we celebrated our accomplishments. It was a month full of so many beautiful people and amazing memories that the act of becoming an actual teacher was just the cherry on top of perhaps the most incredible experience of my life.IMG_0432

I absolutely love being a teacher and currently teach at an exercise therapy center as well as managing my own group classes. I encourage anyone who is thinking of possibly pursuing this goal to please try it! It is so life changing in the most positive of ways. Not only for you, but for the countless people who come to your classes that you are able to help heal in their bodies, minds, and souls.