OF THE SELF, TO THE SELF, THROUGH THE SELF.
One of the very first things we discussed on the first day of Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) was what yoga is and is not. We all told stories about our own preliminary misconceptions and tales about how those we had tried to explain our passion to really could not wrap their minds around how “stretching” could change our lives so much. This is a common problem in the yoga community; trying to reach out and share with the world all of the things we have gained, learned, and realized through our practice. Yoga has more depth than I realize even now, half way through an intense 8 week YTT program, so you can imagine how difficult it is to try and explain it to someone who has never stepped onto a mat. The stigma around being a “yogi” used to irk me slightly, I didn’t want to be judged or looked upon differently for being fanatical about anything. That didn’t last long though. Moving to Denton, finding Karma Yoga – my tribe, and then taking the leap into teacher training at Summit are events I can honestly say have changed the course of my life and I no longer cared about people thought – I knew how important it was to me and how much change I believed I could make with this lifestyle. Being exposed to the enriching, deep, and meaningful effects of yoga not only affected me personally, but professionally, socially, philosophically, and mentally, but changed my entire paradigm of life and of myself.
“The goal [of yoga] is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil the layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are. The goal is to love, well… you.” - Rachel Brathen
The above quote is one of my favorite things I have ever read about yoga (and I’ve read A LOT), because, in my opinion, it reveals the true essence of a yoga practice – to better your body, mind, heart, and spirit in order to better the self, the soul. A lot of people do yoga solely for the physical benefits – which is amazing because there a SO many. However, I have come to find through YTT and my last 2 years of practice how much more spiritual my practice has become. In my training as a mental health counselor I am constantly searching for diverse modes of healing, books, quotes, activities, ways to make meaning, and to increase quality of like. I do the same as a yoga teacher in training. I can find a metaphor just about anywhere. My YTT program through Summit has so far not only given me the foundation of anatomy, pose knowledge, body awareness, and teaching skills, but it has allowed me to develop... well me. We are given so much room to be creative and I have been running with it.
The creativity and individuality you have in being a yoga instructor is one of the huge reasons I knew I would absolutely love doing it. I have had moments where I have to remind myself that this program is where I need to be – like when I decided I could definitely sacrifice 8 weekends of my last summer in college – I could definitely wake up at 6 am every Saturday and Sunday of training to sit on the floor and learn for the next 10+ hours – I could without a doubt work and finish graduate school as well – I could withstand the 4 hours of practice each day. I could endure all of it because to me it isn’t even on the same planet as a boring training for work or having to take a class just to graduate, it is an act of investing in myself. I am investing in the rest of my life, not only with a skill I can use to support myself, but in a life philosophy, a practice that could potentially lengthen my life and enhance the quality of it – because it already has and I want to help offer that to others.
When I began YTT I had no idea how much it would truly infiltrate my life. The people I have met are already a part of me. Yes, we spend 24+ hours together each weekend – but some of them I see during the week to do MORE YOGA. I can’t even explain the belonging I felt when I met individuals that would stand the amount I talk about yoga – it has been extremely affirming. We have created a support system, a network where we can all seek solace and community outside of the training room. The teachers we have been lucky enough to study under are amazing, humble, and open to admitting that they too do not know everything, but they are willing to share with us everything they can to ensure that we can best share what yoga has to offer with the world. I am so excited to see what the next half of training will bring and how the rest of my journey will unfold. YTT, Karma, and yoga in general have already given me so much and I cannot wait to see what I have to offer the yoga community when I complete my training at the end of July.
Lastly, I want to express my gratitude and love to those who have inspired and enabled me to get to the place where I felt that I could dedicate myself so fully to this endeavor and have never failed to offer me support, love, and encouragement to carry on – you know who you are.
- Kelbi Callaway -