a feeling of unhappiness and confusion caused by not being sure about what type of person you really are or what the true purpose of your life is
– courtesy Merriam-Webster
I took my first yoga class in 2001 while living in Anchorage, Alaska. It was led by a woman in a white robe who sat on a pillow in the front of the room making weird noises and asking us students to follow along. I was, needless to say, weirded out and very uncomfortable. Then, finally, she stood us up and asked us to go into Tree pose, choosing to use the sanskrit word for Tree pose, expecting us non-weirdos to understand what she meant, yet none of us did. I did not get her command of “stand, and come into vrksasana.” I know now, but as a first time yoga student, her words, her verbal direction, made no sense to me. She continued to sit on her pillow, talking yoga to us, watching and talking as we all tried to stand on one leg. She used no other verbal cues except for the basic, universal conversation, “place foot to inside of thigh, lock knee, stand tall like a tree.” What? I did not make it past tree pose. I walked out (make that stormed out) of the room and promised myself I would never do yoga again. Today, thinking back, I realize that I have actually kept that promise to myself, even though I started teaching yoga three years after that first class.
Yes, you read that right, I made my way back to the yoga mat. I had to. It called to me during my first winter in Alaska. I was swallowed by the darkness of my first winter, and it almost broke me. I would go to sleep, it would be dark. I would awake the next day, and it was still dark, so cold you wanted to bury yourself in your covers and not leave your bed until May.
It was the hardest six months I have ever had to survive. I gained weight and was depressed. I was lost and unhappy. I needed help. I needed yoga. I bought my first yoga dvd – Yoga with Rodney Yee – the one and only person who could get me out of my bed. I would push play on the dvd while laying in bed shivering, and as soon as I heard his voice I would roll out of bed and start doing yoga.
I struggled with the poses and was forced to make up my own moves when I could not do the poses he wanted me to do. My feet hurt, my ankles ached, my knees felt like they were going to snap and my hips felt like they would actually shatter if I tried to sit or bend the way he tried to get me to do. I had no instruction or feedback. Every pose felt like death, and it pissed me off. I was determined to figure out how to move my body. Yoga gave me something to look forward to every morning. Yoga helped me to get out of bed and face reality.
I made it to my mat a lot that winter, and I know deep down that yoga saved my life; at least this is what I thought at the time. I truly believe it was yoga that saved me during those dark days in Alaska, but what I was doing was not “yoga.” What I was doing was movement: deep, physical movement that made me ‘feel’ my body and gave me something to strive for each day. A new challenge, a new pose, a new breath. I lived for the next possibility on the mat. I didn’t chant my way out of depression, and I did not breathe my way to a strong, supple body; it wasn’t yoga that saved my life, it was movement that saved me.
I was addicted. I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I wanted to give the power of yoga movement to my step, cycling, powerflex, personal training, urban rebounding, the slide and cardio kickboxing students. I wanted to stand on rooftops with a bull horn, shouting across the City of Anchorage, yelling at people to get out of bed and do yoga. I wanted everyone to feel as good as me. I wanted to share yoga so bad that I decided to become a teacher. I wanted to teach in a way that would bend, rotate and move people in ways that would bring change, not only in their body, but to their life. I wanted to give yoga to my friends, students, family and strangers. I was yoga high.
My journey to becoming a yoga teacher started in Alaska with YogaFit – a yoga practice created for the gym goers. This was the perfect kind of yoga for me and my group fitness students. They needed to stretch and I needed to be their teacher.
I became a YogaFit teacher after one training weekend and taught my first yoga class in 2003. After a year of teaching YogaFit to gym-bodies, I decided I wanted more. I moved to San Diego to continue my yoga practice and training. I was interested in Yoga Therapy, so I joined a program with a pathway to becoming a yoga therapist.
I started with their 200-hour yoga training program with the intention of completing the 500-hour yoga training and the 750-hour yoga therapy program. But as we all know, life has a way of ruining your original plans, and in my case, I thank God every day for unanswered prayers. The day after I finished my 200-hour program, life moved me back to Denver. My journey to teacher continued at Corepower Yoga Colorado where I completed the CPY 200-hour Power Yoga training and 200-hour Hot Yoga teacher training. I spent a few years teaching yoga, hot yoga and yoga sculpt before I started designing and leading my own teacher trainings for the CPY brand, and it wasn’t long after that I opened my own studio – Seasons Mind and Body Fitness – Denver’s first fusion movement studio offering cycle and yoga classes.
A few years later, my studio (known at the time as Qi Yoga) became an official Yoga Alliance approved yoga teaching facility. Qi Yoga was recognized nationally and I was given permission to officially train others to become yoga teachers. To this date, our Qi Yoga teacher training school is five years old and has graduated well over a hundred yoga teachers.
The past five years as the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at QiFlow has shaped-shifted me into the person I am today. The five years I spent teaching others to teach has been a blessing that has changed me for the better, along with the fact, that it is because of the ego shedding that takes place as director of anything that has given me the courage to stand up and claim a new identity, a fluid identity that I can keep for as long as I wish, with the understanding and acceptance that I will never remain the same, and the intuitive feeling that one day I will turn to yoga as a way to heal and center myself, and it may even be something that I teach in the future. Learning to teach others to teach has provided me with new insight and beliefs. The years have been kind to me. I am strong and I believe in my decision to hand over my identity. I am ready.
I teach movement. For twelve years, my label, my job description, by title, my identity has been yoga teacher. I can no longer call myself a yoga teacher; if I don’t practice, or teach the story of yoga – chakras, mythical stories, gurus, pranayama, meditation, sanskrit, and even more important, the history of yoga on the mat – then I cannot call myself a yoga teacher.
This is the hardest post I have written thus far, because today I hand over my identity – today I officially make the announcement that I will no longer be leading the Qi Yoga teacher training. I am resigning after five years as the visionary, creator and director of the Qi Yoga Teacher Training school at QiFlow. I’m handing the reigns over to two of the best Yogis I know – Lisa Rundall and Kylie Larson – both Qi Yoga teachers, leaders, visionaries and yoga messengers. These two ladies connect deep to the yoga that I believe needs to be taught and shared across the globe. The limbs of yoga need to be lived and practiced on a daily basis, and they need to be taught by people who live, love and represent the power of yoga – physical and spiritual.
My resignation does not state that I am not a yoga teacher or believer, what it stands for is the time in my life where I lost myself to the label and title of yoga teacher. It represents the time in my life where I tried to be saved and moved by the yoga teaching on the mat, but wasn’t. It represents when I finally stand up and be honest; it represents my decision to teach and create movement on the mat as a vessel, a pathway to my yoga practice. It represents my shift. My yoga is my everyday life…my yoga practice is how I choose to react, feel and respond to life. Movement helps me to practice yoga, but movement is not yoga. I have never been a yoga practitioner or teacher, because it was never the yoga that did it for me. It was always the movement that gave me my release, my zen. I can no longer be a yoga teacher who teaches others to teach. It’s my time to step aside. It’s my turn to create new movement, new results in my life and the lives of my students. I love yoga and I will always be a supporter of the practice. I believe that yoga saves people from life and it should be offered to everyone as a way to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit. I just no longer claim that I can teach the yoga that I am talking about in this post. What I plan to teach is movement. The movement that will help you to absorb the yoga while practicing on the mat with other teachers, and the movement that will help you to live your yoga.
I am still important. I still exist. The only difference is that I am no longer hiding. I stand here now as a movement teacher; one without form or description. My movement of choice is QiCycle, FLOW and POWER. My passion is teaching body knowledge using rhythm and therapeutics as a way to heal the mind and body, connecting my students to a deeper sprit practice off the mat. I choose to leave the yoga teaching to the real yoga teachers of the world…and the two realest, most sincere, beautiful women yogis I know are the two yoga teachers I lovingly hand over my Qi Yoga teacher training school to…I introduce to you, Kylie Larson of KylieFitYoga and Lisa Rundall of Lisa Rundall Creative. I leave you in good hands.
The QiFlow Teacher Training season is around the corner…it begins September 15th.
We build our QiFlow community from the ground up…student, friend, trainee, teacher, mentor, guide, trainer. If you’ve ever wanted to teach or be a part of something bigger then consider one or both of our QiFlow teacher trainings. Dedicating your time and energy toward a new goal, new movement, new friends, new results is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. We would love for you to find out more. Click here for full details of both trainings and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
It’s going to be a great year at QiFlow!
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