I still cannot believe I’m typing this but… I’m officially a registered yoga teacher! After recently graduating from my 200-hour yoga teacher training at Lift Yoga in Alpharetta, I’ve been trying to find the words to describe the incredible experience. Thankfully, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I had the absolute honor of documenting our group’s journey through my photographs.
My Journey to Yoga Teacher Training
My yoga story actually started when I was 16 years old when I first walked into my hometown’s local Bikram yoga studio. Although I quickly learned that the Bikram style wasn’t my thing, I became intrigued by the practice of yoga. In college, I found so much peace and community at my college town’s local yoga studio and that’s when I really started diving in to my practice. I realized when life felt crazy, yoga was the easiest way to calm my mind. I learned that connecting with my breathe and moving my body felt really dang good. From then on, coming to my mat became ritual. In early 2019, I went on a yoga retreat to India on a mission to deepen my practice and learn more about yoga’s roots. And while India was a beautiful experience, I came home wanting more. And in the back of my head, I couldn’t shake the idea of yoga teacher training. To be honest, I had actually thought about yoga teacher training ever since college, but I was always quick to talk myself out of it. After all, I always pictured yoga teachers as tiny, beautiful, women who could stand on their heads and wrap their bodies like pretzels. And that’s just not me.
Fast forward to spring 2019, when I discovered Lift Yoga. We had recently moved north of Atlanta and I had been trying to find a new home yoga studio. After lots of Googling, I found Lift and realized it was only a few minutes from my house and decided to give it a shot. When I first walked in to the studio, I knew it was going to be my new home away from home. The teachers were so friendly, diverse, and welcoming. The studio was bright and beautiful and the classes were small and intimate. Basically, I fell in love.
And then that little voice in the back of my head started coming back urging me to explore yoga teacher training. So at the end of 2019 I decided to go to the info session for the spring 2020 training and see if it was going to be a good fit. Now quick side note- I work a 9-5 AND run a business shooting weddings on the weekends so I have very little free time. And training requires a commitment of 10 weekends Friday-Sunday. But something inside of me kept saying if the dates of training lined up with my schedule, then it was meant to be. Well… let’s just say it wasn’t meant to be. Out of the 10 spring dates, I was going to be shooting weddings for more than half of them. I was super bummed and knew it wasn’t the right time.
Well isn’t it funny how the universe works? Obviously spring 2020 brought covid and it wouldn’t have been the right time to do an in-person training even if the dates had worked out. And that’s when the wedding postponements began… and quickly my fall calendar became much more open than I ever could’ve expected. So when yoga teacher training opened for Fall 2020 and I looked at the dates and I saw they ALL worked with my schedule, I jumped on the opportunity. Obviously postponed weddings were not ideal, but the ability to do this training was my silver lining.
Yoga Teacher Training Begins!
Our first training weekend was at the end of August and we spent 10 amazing weekends together until we graduated in early January 2021. I will never forget that first Friday night of training. I walked in to the studio SO unsure of what the heck I was doing there. I mean, I knew I was there to become a yoga teacher, but all of the doubts crept back into my head. I remember thinking… I am not good enough at yoga for this. I’m not athletic enough for this. Who would want to learn yoga from me anyways?
Those fears quickly disappeared when our amazing instructor walked in, Kim Saunders. She has this presence about her that immediately puts everyone at ease. She started the night by encouraging all of us to feel the fear and do it anyways. And that stuck with me every single day of training.
As the weeks passed, we learned a LOT. Poses, sanskrit, philosophy, sequencing, anatomy… the list goes on. But one of my favorite things I learned is that yoga is so much more than moving on your mat. In fact, yoga asana (which is the practice of doing the poses) is only 1 of the 8 limbs of yoga. There is so much more to the practice of yoga. Yoga is the way you live your life, how you breathe, the way you treat others, the way you appreciate mother earth, and more. And that is a beautiful thing. Living out your yoga practice doesn’t necessarily mean getting sweaty in a studio every day. It means connecting with yourself so you can ultimately connect with the divine. How freaking powerful is that?!
And by the end of training, I found a sense of confidence I didn’t realize I had. I taught a full yoga class for my final exam and it felt GOOD!
But besides all the yoga (and yes, it was a LOT of yoga… 15+ hours a weekend) my favorite part of training was the friendships I made. Our group was amazingly diverse… men and women, ages 20s-60s, with people from all over the country and world. It was pretty incredible getting to know each person’s story and watching them grow from beautiful yoga practitioners into wildly talented teachers. And I know some of the friendships I made will be life-long friendships. And that is the best gift I could’ve gotten from this experience.
Being a human can be hard and messy but we can do hard things. I’m so glad I took the leap outside of my comfort zone to participate in this training and I’m so grateful for the lifelong friendships I made. Eeeek I still cannot believe that I am a yoga teacher!!! If you have ever felt the nudge in your heart to try yoga teacher training, I HIGHLY recommend the experience.