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.
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.
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.
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.
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.