how I rediscovered my passion for yoga after teacher training

before you become a teacher, you must first become a student.

Nancy Chen
May 20, 2018 · 9 min read
Photo by Bizzy Coffee

My yoga journey started a long, long time ago.

The room was dark. Soft bird noises played. My sister and I had our yoga mats side by side; we sat cross-legged in a circle with our knees almost touching.

“Deep inhale.”

“Exhale through your nose.”

Our dad works for a well-known pharmaceutical company with great corporate benefits, so every Sunday, we would head to hip hop class then yoga class at his company gym.

High school started.

I didn’t have time for “kiddie” yoga classes anymore, not with AP classes, leadership positions, and competitive swimming. My yoga “practice” was limited to us doing cat, cow, and down dog during our dryland workouts before swim practice (we got a lot of weird looks from everyone else at school).

Even as I understood the importance of yoga as it connected to all other sports, I never thought I had time for it.

College started.

For once, not overwhelmed with a heavy course load, I started going to yoga classes again, 4x a week, on top of daily swim practices and running.

I began boxing.

The first time I fell in love with yoga again, it was at a CorePower Yoga in Westlake Village.

But I started working full time the fall after graduation, and I defaulted to what I knew: boxing.

I had, for years, toyed with the idea of doing yoga teacher training. Something always held me back.

At first, it was the money. Before I began making my own money, my dad balked at the idea of paying $1000+ for a certificate.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” my dad asked me. “You make more teaching boxing.”

One thing I’ve begun to realize, though, is that it’s not all about the money.

This was the one thing I didn’t overthink.

The weeks leading up to training, I did not attend a single yoga class. Work was getting hectic, I was trying to balance personal training, teaching boxing, my full-time job, and working out.

But I found what it felt like to be a student again…

…something I missed dearly. I’m all about pushing myself out of my comfort zones, and this was the most uncomfortable thing I had done in a long, long time.

It wasn’t about time. It was about confidence. About competition.

Photo by Bizzy Coffee

But the beautiful thing about yoga is that there is no “winning” at yoga.

The beautiful thing about yoga is that it is always there for you whenever you need it.

I know I can return to it, like an old friend, my body reaching for the poses with aching familiarity.

The beautiful thing about yoga is that you take what you need out of it.

You can stay in child’s pose for the entire class if you want. You can take the most advanced variations if you want.

The beautiful thing about yoga is that it will always challenge me.

As I progressed through teacher training, I found myself regaining confidence.

I knew there were things I needed to work on (who knew I could be so off-beat sometimes?); I knew there were things I was good at.

But more importantly, as I progressed through training, I loved watching my fellow teachers-in-training grow by leaps and bounds.

Because once I took out the competition aspect, once I allowed myself to tell myself “you are enough,” it made all the difference in the world.

We all have our different yoga stories.

Some of us have found healing through yoga.

Almost 2 months later, I am officially “graduated.”

But to be honest, holding my certificate… it’s just a piece of paper.

Yes, it means I can theoretically teach at studios. Yes, it means I’ve made it through training.

No one’s yoga journey is ever over.

The room is dark. Soft Billie Eilish is playing. My co-teachers and I have our mats side by side; I sit cross-legged, so close our knees are almost touching.

“Inhale love.”

“Exhale gratitude.”

“We bring our thumbs to our third eye’s center. Our seat of intuition. The light, the love, the teacher in me is so, so grateful to have spent the last hour with each and every one of you.”

“Namaste,” I say softly.

“Namaste,” the class echoes.

I bow forward, my eyes closed. Exhaling all the gratitude, happiness, and light I have built within me over the past hour, over the past 8 weeks I’ve spent with these girls.

I am home.

Photo by Bizzy Coffee

Nancy Chen

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wellness blogger | psych/human behavior nerd | email marketing @perfectketo | I get weirdly enthusiastic about productivity ideas