Just over a year ago I completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) certification in Costa Rica. There were many options to choose from at home-the more mainstream yoga has become the more trainings keep popping up. But I wanted to combine two of my greatest loves-travel and yoga and so I chose to do an intensive 15 day training in Central America. After a ton of research I choose Marianne Wells Yoga School for many reasons. The idea of “Really Real Yoga” appealed to me as I had already shifted to a more alignment based practice. Marianne’s philosophy that every pose originates from the spine and her recognition that every body looks different in the pose sealed the deal. Upon our first meeting I knew I had made the right decision.
What started out as an adventure (travel, yoga, have fun, meet new people) has transformed into a lifelong journey. Yoga had been part of my daily life for quite a while before I boarded the plane south, little did I know how being immersed day and night in my practice and taking the step from student to teacher would impact my life. In the last year it is as if something in my DNA has shifted.
My first lesson was when I arrived in San Jose but my luggage didn’t. Two beautiful women who I had just met hours earlier stayed with me as I filled out the paperwork and then later as I ventured out at night in a strange city to buy underwear and a toothbrush.
This huge inconvenience turned into a much-needed reminder that all around us are people who are willing to help and quite literally give you the shirt of their backs (and yoga pants and flip-flops). As a police officer, I sometimes carry the weight of the negativity directed towards a profession I respect and love. I need reminders from time to time that the vast majority of people I encounter are good and decent and that we all share similar core values. During this luggage free time I also realized that my relationship with stuff was still lingering. As much as I had tried to embrace minimalism and reduce the amount of things we bought, I still had work to do. After 6 days without anything, I realized I could live on much less. Perhaps this was the universe’s way of reminding me and nudging me forward.
As the days went by and new friendships formed I realized some of these women would be in my life forever. I shared a house with two amazing vibrant women who were completely unstoppable in everything they did. And they didn’t apologize for being awesome. They were comfortable taking charge and having a voice. I listened to the stories of people trying to find their way and heard the advice of those who had once been lost but had come through on the other side. I was amazed at the ability of the group to share-meals, clothing, tips, ideas, advice, encouragement, support.
As I left Costa Rica and returned to Canada I knew something inside of me had changed. I had a clear vision of the life I wanted and some solid plans I was excited to put into place.
In the last year I have had some ups and downs as I forge ahead. At times I have been so busy teaching that I forget I am always a student. It had been a struggle to find time for my own practice until I let go of the idea that a practice was in a studio at a certain time. My home practice continues to evolve and I am grateful to have yoga back in my life everyday. I have started a yoga and essential oil business that continues to grow-slowly and steady. As someone who usually starts out fast and furious but then loses steam, this too was a valuable lesson.
An upstairs renovation was the perfect time to create a space in the entire house that I love. After weeks of purging, donating, and painting I have a home I look forward to entering. One that represents the things I crave: peace, calm and uncluttered.
As I look back on the past year I am filled with gratitude-for the opportunity to go to a beautiful location and be immersed in something I love, for the women (and man) I met who reminded me of the value of connection, for new friendships. Gratitude for the lessons that while unknown at the time, have provided the motivation to make changes and to my students who remind me each week with their kind words why I became a teacher in the first place.
Most of all I am grateful that what started out as a 15 day adventure has become a journey I will be on for a lifetime.