Yoga

Published on August 31st, 2018 | by Graham Fowler

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Yoga Teacher Training Four Lives Transformed

by Graham Fowler

For more than 20 years, I’ve been interviewing applicants, from ages 18 to 81 and from 15 countries, for yoga teacher training. Through that experience, I have seen an incredibly diverse set of people—who often have common motivations.

They speak of facing a crossroads in their careers, personal lives or both. They see teacher training as a doorway to a new way of seeing themselves and the world. They often come to heal their own lives and to step into a more authentic expression of who they are and who they want to be. Not surprisingly, they long to become instruments for bringing that same healing and awakening to others.

I asked four teacher training graduates—Kyle Bennett, Aubrey Jordan, Caryn Beister and Heather Dobbins—how the experience has changed them.

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KYLE BENNETT completed his 200-hour course at Peachtree Yoga in 2014.

What motivated you to enroll in a teacher training course?

I loved the way yoga made my body/mind feel. I asked myself, “What if I could bring this transformative power to others? And actually get paid for it?”

When I took the class, it seemed like everything whispered to me, “This is your home. This is your tribe.” From that day, transitions started happening in my life to make the training possible. The Universe was opening the door.

How did your actual experience of teacher training match up with what you thought would happen? What, if anything, surprised you about it?

I didn’t have a clear picture of what to expect. I wanted a transformational shift, a new beginning. The course leaders, mentors and participants challenged me to dive deeper into my awakening. I found a whole new community that believed in me, heard me and helped me recognize my unique gift to the world.

How did teacher training impact your life during the course? 

The meditation training and increased amount of yoga took my life into a new state of being—a physically healthier, more peaceful me. The changes gave me the strength, patience and dedication to commit more and more to my practice and to the group. I was able to listen better to others and to appreciate their authenticity, not only as a teacher but also as a human being.

How has teacher training impacted your life since graduating?

I’ve had the opportunity to mentor for a 200-hour course. And I have learned how important it is to have a practice, a purpose and a spiritual community in my life. These are my anchors.

Are you teaching yoga now? If so, in what venue? 

Yes. I’m teaching in the beach town of Ayampe, Ecuador. It’s been a longtime dream of mine to teach yoga on the beach in Latin America. I studied Spanish for five years and finally, after my 300-hour course ended, a perfect Universe-aligning gift landed at my door. I plan to return to Atlanta and teach this October. I always intend to create space in my life for adventure, wilderness and the unknown. That’s where the magic is.

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AUBREY JORDAN completed her 200-hour course at Johns Creek Yoga in 2016.

What motivated you to enroll in a teacher training course?

I had become very connected to the asana practice I experienced and felt a greater overall sense of well-being from that practice. I knew I wanted to make yoga a bigger part of my life; I just didn’t know in what way. I was deeply curious to know more about this practice that seemed to heal me and so many others. I had no intention of teaching, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Are you teaching yoga now? If so, in what venue? 

Shortly after graduation, my mentor, Sheila McVay, encouraged me to teach at John’s Creek, and it quickly became the focal point of my life. Now I am the general manager of our two locations, and I teach five classes each week. Yoga has become my full-time job.

What is the thing you are most passionate about sharing with your students?

I believe that seeking connection with a higher power in all that we do is the most important aspect of the practice. As we work to cultivate a more loving and compassionate relationship with ourselves and others, and as we greet life with a sense of awe, we strengthen our bond with the divine power that created us. I hope to continue to share that feeling of wonder and love with my students for many years to come.

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CARYN BEISTER completed her 200-hour course at Peachtree Yoga in 2017.

What motivated you to enroll in a yoga teacher training course?

After my treatment for alcoholism/addiction, it became clear that not only am I supposed to become a teacher, I am supposed to help other addicts/alcoholics through the practice of yoga.

I didn’t know how, when or where, so my first intention was just to deepen my practice and listen to the Universe. The pull to take teacher training was becoming so loud that others could almost hear it for me.

How did your actual experience of teacher training match up with what you thought would happen? What, if anything, surprised you about it?

Going through treatment and therapy, I thought I had swept most of the cobwebs out of the way, but during the training something deep down inside me said, “Ah, there you are! Caryn, you are finally here!” I remember it like it was yesterday. It was as if some part of me had been waiting for a long time, somehow knowing I would make it eventually.

I remember being surprised by my new meditation practice too. I thought I had some nice little meditation experiences before, but this one was very intense. I felt that there was a little tiny person inside of me gently sweeping away the dust on the cogs within my heart. It brought me more balance, happiness, joy and freedom.

Are you teaching yoga now? If so, what is the thing you are most passionate about sharing with your students?

I teach at treatment centers for alcoholics and addicts in recovery now, which is heartbreaking and inspiring all at once. I am given the chance to guide people to a little bit of peace in what can feel like the lowest of times in their adult lives. I also teach at a church that opens its arms to anyone in the community who wants healing with yoga and meditation.

And I am humbled to also teach at my alma mater, Peachtree Yoga Center.

I am passionate about sharing a safe space with my clients where they are encouraged to stay with themselves on their mats and replenish their grace and gratitude for self. I love to share with them moments of peace. We work a lot on getting into their own breath and body, and out of their heads. This principle gets so lost in our society sometimes, and I am so lucky to be allowed to help guide people back to self.

I say the same thing at the end of each class because it is so important to me: “We end today with love and light, grace and gratitude. Namaste.”

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HEATHER DOBBINS completed her 200-hour course at Johns Creek Yoga in 2017.

How did your actual experience of teacher training match up with what you thought would happen? What if anything surprised you about it?

I was surprised by all that I learned about myself. It was so much more than where to align the hips, in which pose. The beauty of yoga, as a teacher or as a student, is that one can learn and teach at the same time.

How did teacher training impact your life during the course? 

The impact on my life was vast and long term. I became a more connected wife and a more intuitive mother who was able and willing to set healthy boundaries. I became more present in the community with which I share space, and I became more thoughtful regarding my own actions, thoughts and feelings. I learned and continue to learn that my body is not the enemy. In fact, I learned that no part of Self is the enemy.

How has teacher training impacted your life since graduating?

In the best version of myself, I am unafraid to be me. I am unapologetically me, in my most authentic form. Before yoga teacher training, those days were fleeting at best. But since YTT, I have the privilege of being present for many more of those days.

I teach in a few different arenas. I teach a few community classes for local apartment complexes. I teach a handful of private students. My most challenging work is teaching my own kids, one of whom is autistic with anxiety disorder.

What are you most passionate about sharing with your students?

I believe strongly that yoga is for every human and is not limited to people who have the body types we usually see in our mind’s eye when we think of “yoga.” While asana holds many treasures, it is not the depth and breadth of yoga. It has become my passion to create a yoga practice for anyone who is curious about yoga. Living in a plus-size body, I deeply want to share that yoga is not only for “that” size, but rather your size. As a Christian woman, I want to share that yoga is not for “that” faith, but rather your faith. Yoga is not for them. It is for you.


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