Teacher Training Reflections

My yoga teacher training started last September with a weekend retreat that focused on the chakras that was taught by Aubrey and other teachers at Studio Rise. I remember driving to the lodge where we would be staying for 3 days and feeling quite nervous. I knew Aubrey and some of the other attendees pretty well, but I would be meeting lots of new faces and joining a group of trainees that had completed their first 100 hours a few months before. Was I really ready for this? It signified a leap, a big leap, from student to teacher. Yoga had become a bigger and bigger part of my life over the past 5 years. It morphed from something different to add to my exercise routine to the one thing I did for myself on a regular basis after I started working. I completed a 30 classes in 30 days challenge a few months before teacher training started last year. The changes I saw within myself, physically and emotionally, with consistent practice could not be denied. I wanted more out of my yoga practice, I wanted more out of myself. I’d always toyed with the idea of someday pursing yoga teacher training, some day far off, when the stars aligned. I never thought I would teach a class. I just wanted to “deepen my practice,” or so they said. My fascination with yoga was limited to posture and poses and secretly striving to hit more challenging shapes—and oh yeah, there were 7 other limbs I should probably know about. 

After the retreat ended, I remember driving again, reflecting on what had just transpired the past two days. I was feeling incredibly energized and overwhelmed. We learned in depth about the chakras, something I always had a difficult time conceptualizing. My background is science, but connecting anatomy to our emotional and spiritual selves was a whole other learning endeavor. There was so much information shared and an equal amount of time to reflect and internalize what this all meant to us. The other newest trainee, now one of my dearest friends, and I were joining a larger group that started that spring. Among us were lots of different backgrounds, experiences, and voices. Looking back, I think this was the most important part of my teacher training experience. Yoga teacher training requires you to take the longest, hardest look you’ve ever taken in the mirror. There are a lot of emotions that come up when you are working through what the ethics and moral code of yoga means to you. This is intense, and we are encouraged to write about and share our authentic selves. Sometimes it’s not pretty. Sometimes others do no see the same, and you realize your blind spot is a hell of a lot larger than you thought. Working through this, with this, as a team, for better or worse, is pretty amazing. When you go through it, the physical and the emotional work, together, you create really deep bonds. 

As trying as self-reflection and stripping layers to reveal your truest self can be, it was always equally as enjoyable. I now had 10ish hours a week set aside dedicated to yoga. I loved attending the classes, taking them in from a new perspective as we learned what it meant to put together a whole, well-rounded class of our own. We had workshops on Sundays where others in the Rise Community would join, ranging from movie nights to Ayurvedic medicine to curating a killer class playlists. Imagine the coolest elective class ever. Our muscles were sore at the end of Thursday sessions, but long Sundays filled me up with new food for thought and conversation. I learned to really take in the content of what others said, rather than focus intensely on what I wanted to contribute to a dialogue. Teacher training changed how I approached others and how I expressed myself to the world. I went into training with this desire that I wanted to be the “perfect yoga teacher trainee,” whatever the hell that meant. I wanted others to want to take my class, even if I didn’t want to teach. I feared that others would think I had no business there. I wanted everyone’s permission, that I had what it took to be a yoga teacher. I look up to my teachers tremendously, so I took this very seriously. A lot of things changed for me in a non-yoga way throughout the course of training, and I can’t help but think that throughout the 200 hours, somewhere along the way, my compass started to change. I let go of work obligations that were not right for me and violated my satya, or truth. I started to impose new boundaries with my time, unapologetically, instead it being everywhere with everyone, all at once. I realized this permission I desired from everyone, the green light to progress, meant nothing if it only protected me from my own fear. This was incredibly liberating.

As I am getting closer to that one year anniversary of the retreat that started it all, I think back to the few hours spent in silent meditation, walking in the woods, that closed the weekend. My honeymoon with yoga is over. I teach a class at Rise on Fridays, and it challenges my creative self and my commitment to practice. Some weeks the postures and words and aura of the class weave together so beautifully, while other times it’s a struggle to figure out what direction I want to lead others for 60 minutes. I reflect on my life and my choices, and the edges of my practice and what yoga means to me start to blur and bleed into everything I do. Although the 200 hours are over, the work for me has just begun. 

aubrey bates