As summer comes to a close, routines begin to kick back in. While reminiscing with friends about what we’ve been up to the last few months, I keep getting asked one question in particular— “So how was yoga teacher training? Was it worth it?” And every time I’m asked, I struggle to get all the words out. I struggle with knowing where to begin, because I don’t want to be long-winded… but I know that to truly explain the impact that YTT had on my life, I need to go back… way back.
If you had met me seven years ago, you wouldn’t recognize the person I am today. Back then, I was at my peak of unhealthiness. I was weighed down in almost every possible way. I was an emotional eater who used food as a tool to stuff down hard emotions so I didn’t have to work through them, believing the lies that had been thrown at me since childhood about my worth, my value, and my purpose. I was decaying on the inside, rotting in my complacency to care for my body, mind, and soul. I’d locked away my Spirit. I told her she had to be all the things that I “had to” be: silent, small, still… easy to lock away, and easy to ignore.
And I did. I ignored her. I ignored the lethargy that continued to grow in my body, and the heaviness I felt in my heart. I ignored the depression that was growing into suicidal ideations. I pushed through and pushed on, rather than working through. I didn’t realize it then, but I was so defeated that I had no desire to fight for my worth anymore. The irony in all of this is that my fight for others hadn’t changed.
So, when a friend asked me to help be her accountability partner in making healthier choices, I stuck by her. And in doing so, I started to take better care of my body, too. I started going to the gym regularly; I began watching what I was eating; and I started recognizing the behavior patterns that had lead me through cycles of mistreating my body. I bought my first, crappy yoga mat from Amazon and started regularly practicing vinyasa yoga.
Work. Tireless work. I lost 90 pounds, and gained strength and flexibility… and quite a bit of confidence. Like I said, if you met me seven years ago you wouldn’t recognize me.
But the funny thing is, if you met me seven months ago, apparently you still may not have recognized me. It was a friend and fellow yoga teacher trainee that pointed it out. She saw a picture of me from before I started my 200HR training with Heather Otterbine at Heights Yoga Project, and she legitimately didn’t believe it was me at first. I was even doing yoga in the picture, and yet I had to convince her that it was me.
“You’ve changed,” she said. “Your energy is completely different. You’re.. I don’t know… vibrant now.”
I’ve thought about that moment a lot. It’s seared into my mind, because she’s right, I do look different in my pictures from seven months ago. In 2014 I had committed to changing my body, but that was it. The truth was that–even though it looked like I was doing the work and getting healthier–my body weighed 90 pounds less, but my mind was still heavy with depression, my heart was still riddled with self-loathing, and my Self… she was still tightly locked away where I’d left her.
In 2020 I put up boundaries to protect my mind and heart so that I could start picking at the lock that held my Self captive. Therapy was a beautiful tool that began the journey of changing my mindset. In many ways, I thought I’d done all the work that I needed to.
Enter yoga teacher training.
In 2021, this commitment that I made with the intention to deepen my own practice more than anything, handed me a spiritual lock pick set. I won’t lie, it was hard work. It was tedious work. I cried every time another pin slid into its rightful place, drawing me closer to unlocking the wild, vibrant light that I’d locked away as a child. And then… the lock slipped off, the cage door opened… and my Self was released. The light in my smile and my eyes began to return. I don’t have words to entail the completely transformational experience that yoga teacher training was. The only way I can think to describe it, is that the first weekend we learned that the most important part of a yoga practice is the breath, because breath is life. And that’s what YTT gave me… it gave me back my breath, my life.
“So how was yoga teacher training? Was it worth it?”
Yes. Yes, it was worth it. I can finally breathe again.
Special “Thank You” to guest author, Annalise Larson, for sharing her personal experience with Yoga Teacher Training through OmBodies Yoga with our community.