my 200 hour yoga teacher trainingWalking into the studio on the first day of the Yoga Teacher Training intensive weekend my mind is sure to tell me that I have no business being there, in this group of 13 or so women.  My mind promises me that I am a fraud and not only will I be the worst yogi anyone has ever met, but I also have way too much going on in my life to sit on this mat for 200 hours from now until February.  But, I want to do this and I paid a lot of money, so I’m going to stay.

Scanning the room I recognize 3 or 4 women and I feel more nervous, because I want to be anonymous, but I also feel comforted, because they seem a little edgy too.  I try to keep reminding myself that it’s not all about me and everyone here has their own worries and skepticisms as well, I know why I am here and I know why it’s important.  So why am I here? It’s part: the necessity of being a yoga studio owner, it’s part wanting to spread the loving vibration that yoga creates and it’s part wanting to feel the way I feel after yoga, all the time.  

My first experience with yoga happened when I was 16. I had a YMCA Membership and I started taking classes. I can’t say what attracted me to it, but I felt compelled to be there.  I remember being upset that I wasn’t flexible and I couldn’t do a lot of the poses.  I was embarrassed when the teacher placed a block in front of me and told me to use it.  I didn’t really get it then.  I continued with the practice sporadically and in college I took yoga for credits.  The final exam was so weird.  Being in front of class and doing the poses I had memorized.  I still didn’t quite get it, but I liked it.  It wasn’t until my mid twenties, still not flexible, still with a racing mind, that I got into yoga in a more consistent way.  This is where I discovered my two favorite things about the practice: Adjustments or as I like to call them: Stranger Touch and crying in Svasana…

You know what I’m talking about!  You’re in Utkatasana, Fierce Pose (commonly called chair pose) and your shoulders are scrunched up to your ears, you’re not sitting as deep as you could, you forget to breathe…yoga teachers will help you with that and if you are lucky they will put their hands on you and physically move your body.  The reason I have always loved this is because the act of adjustment or enhancement is usually very loving and it is so unexpected that someone, who you don’t really know is helping you get to a place they know you can go and they are doing it in a very affectionate way.  Not everyone is a fan of this, so I can’t speak for them, but for me it’s one of the reasons I keep going back and yes, maybe if I’ve had a bad day I’ve faked bad form so someone would help me soften my shoulders, lengthen my spine.  I have no shame!

It’s true that yoga stirs up emotion, no matter what your reason for being there, if you are in hip openers for 40 minutes, it’s possible that you may be sobbing for the last 10.  Why fight it?  It’s not always comfortable when you are in a room full of people and you don’t know why tears are streaming down your face, but luckily their eyes are closed and no one will know the wiser, unless you tell them or write about it.  The thing about crying in in yoga is, you most likely really need to release something.  Let yoga be your guide.  Breathe, get into a posture, flow, chant, meditate, pray, be adjusted, cry…do it all. I want to be on the other side of the mat for these reasons. I want to lead people through this beautiful practice.

Part of my mind continues to argue all the reasons I should stop with my training but the louder part says, “Shut the hell up!”  I let the two battle it out while I practice the asanas and read the Yoga Sutras.  A perk we sometimes forget about is that being a student takes some of the pressure off.  We learn to have a beginner’s mind and try to remember that we are not expected to be experts right away and as far as the practice of yoga is concerned, we never are really expected to be perfect, but it’s in our own best interest to keep trying.

It hasn’t even been a month since day one of training, but it seems like so much time has passed.  Among all the information I am absorbing, I’m also forming bonds with some really incredible women.  It’s gratifying being able to share this space of learning and teaching with other women who share similar passions.

We are on the same journey, all having different experiences.  True in yoga training, true in life.

This is just the beginning…

~Stephanie Harmon is the owner of Hustle and Flow, she currently teaches Unbound Buti and Hip Hop.  To find out more about her click here!