What I Learned in Yoga Teacher Training

kim bielak_ytt_yoga teacher training_bali

Last year I made a wager with myself. If I didn’t get into Stanford Business School, I would quit my job and do the intensive yoga teacher training I had always dreamed of but never imagined I’d have enough paid-time-off time to do. I didn’t necessarily want to be a full-time yoga teacher, but the history, philosophy even basic anatomy behind the magic I’d experienced in class for years called me to learn more as a mode of self-discovery.

By now I think you can guess my answer from Stanford was a big fat ‘No,’ but what I learned in my 200 Hour YTT and the months I spent backpacking through Southeast Asia that followed was far beyond how I ever imagined I would “find myself” through business school. These are just a few of things that - while I may have heard my whole life - I never fully understood until I was gifted the opportunity to live them through my yoga teacher training last year.

You are stronger than you think.

After shaking and waking up with screaming muscles through the first week of practice, and despite a few bittersweet tears here and there, I was utterly surprised morning after morning when I would wake up ready to get back on my mat again. The body can adapt so much more quickly than we give it credit for. You are strong. Let your mind or your body prove it to you.

That little internal guide we call intuition is pretty powerful.

We just need to get quiet long enough to hear it. So often we make decisions based on fear, habit, social expectations, or false narratives we’ve believe our entire lives. But it’s amazing how clear things become when you extract yourself from all the external influences and turn inward for guidance, if only for a brief moment. Learn to become still. Learn to just observe. Learn to listen, and you just might start to understand the difference between all the chatter and what you already know deep down.

Get present. Life is pretty amazing.

Whether it was watching a full moon rise or listening to the rain, when you stop long enough to notice the things around you - to really notice - you just might find that most of the things you worry about are pretty insignificant at the end of the day.

Your purpose isn’t limited to your career.

Half of the people in my program - including myself - were in the “job quitters club,” and so many nights were passed talking about purpose and our various paths in life. But one of the biggest things I took away was that every moment, both inside and outside of our jobs, is an opportunity to live your purpose. To create, to help others, to make a difference. What you bring to your mat and what you bring off your mat are no less valuable than what you bring to that chair at your desk.

We really are all connected.

In a predominantly individualistic society such as the West, it can be so easy to get caught up in the self. Yet there is so much more power in relationships, in community, in this symbiotic ecosystem we call life. We don’t have to go it alone when we were made to both lean on and lift each other up. In just three short weeks I came to consider each and every person in my program family. We came from so many different walks of life, but we all shared one another’s hopes, fears, pain and even tears. I saw myself in every person, and each and every one of them is now, and forever will be, a part of me.

If you find yourself considering a yoga teacher training, I couldn’t recommend highly enough. You are sure to question and learn just as much - if not more - about yourself and about life as you will about downward dog and how to teach it.

*Thank you to Zuna Yoga for a truly life-changing experience. Check out their retreats and YTT’s if you are ever looking for a program yourself!