I began practicing yoga at home as an undergraduate in college; I had heard that it benefits both the body and mind, even calming an anxious mind. I remember feeling anxious while writing in my master's degree program and stepping away to practice yoga; afterward, I felt calmer and I could then write effectively. My first live yoga teacher was Peach Friedman, who was then teaching at Gold's Gym - now Max Fitness - in Auburn. Eventually, I followed Peach to her newly opened studio, Yogafly Studio. A highlight of my time with Yogafly was attending an embodied writing retreat led by Peach; that experience continues to influence my writing practice.
I started to feel interest in Yogafly's teacher training program after practicing at Yogafly for several years. I was taking classes from Megan Riley; she was a recent graduate of its program and such an outstanding yoga teacher. She could answer any question I had (and I asked her many) and design a sequence on the spot to address student needs as they came up during practice. I also deeply admired Peach's philosophies of life, and I was curious to see what she would teach me and how it would challenge me to grow. After I practiced yoga, I always left feeling renewed, inspired, and stronger, and I sensed that teacher training could offer a similar gateway to personal growth.
Around the same time, a season of grief began, and I remember feeling a strong call to do yoga teacher training. Through my grieving process, I became connected with Nicole, as we had some commonalities. Nicole reached out to me and really listened; I felt embraced by my yoga community. I found kindness and compassion there. I attended yoga classes, sometimes weeping through poses as I grieved. At Yogafly and with its teachers, I felt safe to process and heal.
Yogafly has always been a bright spot for me, and my experience in teacher training was no different. I struggle to put words to why teacher training was so personally meaningful to me, even transformative. The first aspect that comes to mind is community; every teacher and trainee left a lasting impression on me. In our community, I was free to be myself and find affirmation, not judgment. I loved learning more about yoga's lineage and philosophy, growing stronger in my practice and learning how to teach yoga. But the best part for me was the community we formed. I continue to miss the long hours that we spent together because of the wonderful people.
Yogafly’s teacher training gave me a stronger yoga practice and teaching skills, but what is more difficult to describe is my inner journey through the program. In training, we discussed how yoga can be the pursuit of bliss. An impediment to inner harmony can be a lack of love for self; teacher training helped me learn to love myself. That is something that I've had to work hard to learn over time, but teacher training played an important role in healing my relationship to self. I have no regrets about enrolling in teacher training, and I wish I could go through the experience again.
Currently, I teach Hatha 1 at Yogafly, and I find it so rewarding. Additionally, yoga continues to impact my academic work; I am working toward a Ph.D. in English Language Arts Education, and I am currently researching contemplative pedagogy, meditation and writing instruction. I am eager to see how yoga continues to play an important role in my life.