On Becoming a Yoga Teacher or Drinking the Hippie Kool Aid

“Yoga teacher training will change your life.” This is what the nice lady behind the counter of the yoga studio told me every time I asked about taking yoga teacher training.

At this, I always cocked my head to the side, squinted my eyes and thought, “Really? You know this? You, standing behind that counter in your stretchy pants know this about me?”

What was also disturbing to me at the time was that they never said how my life would change. What did they mean exactly? Drinking more tea? Being healthier? Giving away all my worldly possessions getting on a plane to India and spending the rest of my life in an ashram?

I had been taking yoga for many years. At first because I was seeking a, let’s face it, Madonna body. The Madonna body proved to be elusive, but I fell in love with the yoga. I loved how hard it was (I took mostly Asthanga), I loved how great I felt after a class. I even grew to love the “OM’s” and some of the chanting. But there was always something that seemed a little suspicious to me about the seemingly boundless happiness and calm of yoga teachers; like they’d lost touch with reality.

At the time, I thought reality was regular coffee-drinking in dingy cafes, reading depressing novels and a cynical outlook. Yoga teachers just seemed too happy to be normal. I thought they either must be faking it, or that once you went too far into yogic philosophy, you were brainwashed. And yet, every time I saw a sign to do yoga teacher training, a little part of me was drawn to it.

Fast-forward twelve years. Me in my mid-thirties. I’ve lived enough life to have been brought to my knees at times and to know that happiness is a precious and noble goal. I was taking time out, nurturing myself in search of a better way of living, and it seemed like the perfect time to do something like training to be a yoga teacher. If people who studied yogic philosophy were drinking the proverbial “kool-aid”, I was going to take a sip; that zen-like yoga-teacher calm seemed pretty good to me. And yet, I still worried about what an intensive immersion in all that is yoga would do to me. When people at the yoga studios said “yoga teacher training will change your life” I imagined myself completely altered, unrecognizable even to myself, maybe even brainwashed. I thought I might uproot my entire life, leaving my job, my friends and family, and this worried me. Although I respect another’s choice to join an ashram, that wasn’t my path. On the other hand, yoga had only ever had a positive influence on my life, and people I knew who had done teacher training didn’t seem to have suffered any adverse effects. This reassured me, and so it was that I tip-toed into my first teacher training class on a cold January day; full of excitement and apprehension.

In the end, the training did change my life, but more subtly and profoundly than I ever thought possible. I’m turning into one of those happy yoga people! I find my work far less stressful than I used to. I find I have more compassion for others. I am softer, kinder and more loving in my personal relationships. Instead of losing myself, I feel that I know myself better and love myself more. I have a sense of being more firmly anchored in my life. Of course, everything is a work in progress. I’m still learning and growing every day, but my outlook on life is so different now and the changes are for the better. I’m so grateful that I made the choice in the end to do the training.

Am I saying all this to plug yoga teacher training? No. I guess what I wanted to say is I’ve come to realize how much work happiness can take and how we can see it as simplistic and facile in our society, when it’s not. And this outlook can prevent us from doing what we really want to do, because we think we’ll look stupid or we’re afraid it’s “out of the box”. So I suppose this post is a little shout-out for the road less taken and for following and nurturing happiness, whatever form that may take for you.

P.S. We at Mother Sugar love and value your comments! I am going away on vacation for three weeks, though, so won’t be able to respond until I get back, but I promise I will!

Blackberry Honey


9 thoughts on “On Becoming a Yoga Teacher or Drinking the Hippie Kool Aid

  1. I’ve taken a few yoga classes in the past and still feel like I just don’t get it. Your post has inspired me to give it another go. 🙂 Enjoy your vacation and thanks for sharing your story of drinking the kool-aid.

    • Hi Jessica,
      The vacation was amazing – thanks! And thanks for reading and commenting!

      About yoga – I’m glad if you feel inspired to give it another try! The only advice I might have is to try different styles. There may be one you like better than others. And if you still don’t like it, that’s cool too! Have fun! 🙂

  2. I’ve been practicing yoga now for 9 years, and have even subbed yoga classes for my friend (who owns her own studio). I’ve been toying with the idea of going through the teacher training, but I’ve been hesitant and therefore have been putting it off. My fears are similar to what yours were. After reading your post, I’m thinking I should sign myself up for a teacher training course. I teach high school, and love teaching. It’s definitely a craft, and takes a lot of discipline and skill to be able to read your students, know their limitations, and also figure out what you can do to challenge them so they will grow. I think I would get a lot of joy and knowledge in my life if I decide to go for the training. Thanks for posting this and for making me rethink my choices. Enjoy your vacation!

    • Hi Megan,
      Thanks so much for your comments! I’m still working to wrap my head around teaching in general and I would love to have all the teaching experience you do!

      Everyone’s experience is different and trainings are all different, I know there were people in my group who didn’t feel their expectations were met, but I really loved the whole process and am glad for everything I learned. I’m glad, though, if some of your fears about it are put to rest, and if it’s something you think you want to do, I’d say go for it! And do lots of research to find a training that seems right for you. Happy adventures!

  3. So, I find it kind of funny it was the madonna body that led you to yoga. you’ve always seemed kind of etheral to me! And it always made sense that this might be a road for you. You’ve certainly got the best voice for it! (ooh, Mother Sugar audio yoga class!!)

    As for happiness taking work, yes, I agree. Not dissimilar to your experience, this past year I’ve discovered that not only does it take work, but it doesn’t always feel exciting or momentous. contentment and stimulation are not always the same thing- and that has taken me some time to figure out.

    • It’s so funny to hear you say that about me seeming ethereal. I have a friend who made a similar comment not so long ago – it seems you both knew me better than I knew myself! I think I spent a while running from the parts of myself I didn’t like back then – niceness, gentleness, flakiness and spirituality. Unsuccessfully, it seems :).

      I love your comment about the work of happiness not feeling exciting or momentous. Yes, it can feel plodding at times, and like it isn’t going anywhere. But then I look back after a few months and can see how far I’ve come. It’s more tortoise than hare. I think I used to confuse contentment and stimulation too. Hugs to you, my friend.

  4. So refreshing to read this, especially now, in a time of year when my work slows down and my days open up and so much of what keeps me moving seems less pressing and makes me, actually, a bit unhappy. Thanks for the reminder: it takes work, and slow work, and attentiveness to ourselves. Strange how we might even know what would be good for us, but we still shy away from it. So impressed by your brave, brave move. Well done. x

    • Thanks!

      I can imagine after such a busy summer that you’d probably crash for a bit, feeling blue. Hope it gets better soon! 🙂

  5. Pingback: A Life of Luxury: Choices, Trade offs, and the Benefits of Busyness. | Mother Sugar

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