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Picture a young lady, standing in front of a wall of mirrors, wearing a frothy confection of tulle and lace and glittering beads. Suddenly, she starts laughing so hard that tears spout from her eyes. Behind her, two seamstresses are valiantly wrestling with the zipper of her dress. Finally, they manage to drag it all the way up to the neckline. Success! The girl laughs harder. The trapezius and rhomboid muscles in her back strain against the fabric of the dress. “You know,” the seamstress says, tactfully, “we usually advise our brides to avoid doing too many pushups before the wedding.” The girl shakes her heard. “Sorry, ma’am, but that’s not going to happen. I’m in a 200-hour yoga teacher training program and I probably do 50 chaturangas a day, so I guess we’ll just have to let out a few seams!”

So yeah, that girl was me. When I decided to sign up for teacher training six months before my wedding, friends told me I was nuts. Aren’t you worried about feeling overwhelmed?? they asked. And I was. For years I’d held myself back from doing the training. I’m too busy this year. It’s a big commitment. I’m not sure I’m ready. I mean, I can’t even do a headstand. But the truth is, if I had waited until I felt “ready” or until my schedule miraculously cleared or until I could do a headstand, I’d be waiting forever. And I knew, deep down, that committing to teacher training now, at this point in my life, despite my fears, was the best decision I would ever make. I wanted to learn more about my yoga practice and I was interested in teaching, but what really drew me to the training was the opportunity to learn more about myself.

In teacher training, Angela and Monika pushed me to dig through layers of old narratives that I’d been telling myself for years about who I was, and what I was capable of. They challenged me to communicate my feelings more honestly, to not retreat in the face of uncomfortable self-scrutiny, to understand more deeply the interaction between the way I see myself and the image that I project to others. It was high-level personal development work and they created such a safe and supportive environment in which I could engage in this kind of self-exploration. There were times when it was scary, but Angela, Monika, and my amazing fellow teacher trainees were always there to tell me, firmly, but lovingly, you can do more than you think you can. The sense of community was one of the reasons that I fell in love with YogaSport in the first place, and teacher training only reinforced that. From the current YS teachers and assistants who mentored and encouraged me to the awesome group of people in my training class who inspired and supported me and whose friendship I will cherish always, it’s the unique community here that elevated my teacher training experience.

And, of course, I learned so much about Baptiste Power Yoga. Poses that I had been practicing for years suddenly appeared new and fascinating as I deepened my understanding of alignment and muscle activation, of anatomical structure and spiritual focus, of the design of the flow and the role each pose plays within it. I geeked out over anatomy textbooks and the history of this style of yoga. The teacher training program enriched my relationship to my practice, made me stronger and more aware in my own body.

By the end of training, I felt more confident in who I was and what I wanted out of my yoga practice, out of my relationships, out of my life. I didn’t have it all figured out (I don’t think that’s even possible), but teacher training helped me grow into a more authentic, empowered, and peaceful version of myself. And with killer back muscles, too.