why I’m doing yoga teacher training

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” It’s a mantra printed on those ubiquitous red Lululemon bags that I seem to have a harder time with than the others. Not that I live my life by the 10 commandments of Lululemon, but most of the others (“sweat once a day”, “friends are more important than money”) are pretty much no-brainers for me.

Unsurprisingly, I don’t take as many risks as I used to in my 20s. And while I don’t want to return to those more manic years, with their break-ups and roommates and moving boxes, the down side of snuggling into your 30’s is that there’s not a lot of room for fear. And I mean the good kind. These last few years, “doing something every day that scares me” has been more vanilla-flavored, but no less difficult at times: asking myself what I expect from my career, negotiating, swimming in the ocean, learning to be wrong, self-love.

yoga soup santa barbara

Yoga Soup, a quirky studio in Santa Barbara where my mom and I did an inspiring class last weekend.

Over the last two months I got tired of vanilla. Work and training, two grounding factors in my life right now, both slowed. My usually full plate cleared, and after a few days of bliss, I got restless…dare I say bored. (A concept I abhor!) Sure, I did some of the things I pine for when I’m busier, but then an uncomfortable emptiness rolled in and I got pretty down some days. (Which I promptly felt guilty about, given our gorgeous winters here, and the fact that I have a good life, all things considered.)

Given all this, I decided to take a leap into the unknown and sign up for a three-month yoga teacher training course. I know, it’s not as if I’ve decided to go on a solo trek on the Annapurna trail or volunteer in Haiti for six months, but for me, right now, this is my own little version of “scary.”

Friends and family members have been asking me why. (I ran into a friend last week who said “because you don’t have enough going on??”) Here’s the story.

A shrine at Foxen

A relevant shrine at Foxen vineyards, where we toured with my parents who were visiting this past weekend.

Back in December I started doing a lot more yoga, thanks an all-access pass from Fitn. That familiar addiction to the mat flooded back again, and helped me get through some low days. More specifically, I developed a crush on a nearby studio called Yoga Six. At a particularly memorable class in early January, our instructor (Katie Brauer) plugged her upcoming teacher training course. Something about the combination of that day, her class, and the fact that it’s the only course she’s leading this year, lit a fire. I just felt drawn—something I haven’t felt in a long time.

I returned home and floated the idea to Mark. I emailed Katie with a million questions. I texted with my brother Matt, who got certified last summer and now teaches in Vancouver. Mark challenged me to really think about and articulate why I wanted do this—here, now. Then I did what anyone would do: I set out on the coast ride hoping 375 miles on a bike would give me some clarity. Upon returning home, a few more happenstance things occurred which pushed me to yes. I signed the forms, paid the fees, and ordered my books.

So that’s the story, but not so much the “why.” For one, I’ve been struggling with the contentment factor for some time now (aka happiness). Second—not that there’s any order to these—though I love triathlon, sometimes I feel like its role in my life is a little, shall we say, unbalanced? I know, yoga is still in the exercise realm, but it’s also an education in meditation, history, and anatomy. Third, yoga as a new creative outlet appeals to me. Writing has become more business-like for me over the past few years; other than this blog, I’m simply not making the time for creative expression as much as I used to. Yoga has a beauty element and I’m excited to explore that. Fourth is community: I’m excited to meet new people, plain and simple. There are other reasons of course, but finally, I’ll say I’m doing this as a spiritual journey of sorts. I’ve missed that element in my life, too. Yesterday at yoga, my favorite teacher opened the class with the question: “Have you ever breathed in until you’re completely full, and out until you’re completely empty?” I don’t know why, but that sort of seems like the point. 

For those of you who’ve asked, I’m not sure on the specifics of actually becoming a teacher. I’m drawn to community yoga (at places like the YMCA), and teaching people who can’t afford the prices yoga studios charge.

Andrew Murray winery

Wine, cornhole, and Jenga along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail last weekend. Contentment.

The course starts next Friday evening at Yoga Six Solana Beach, and takes place Fridays from 6-9 pm, Saturdays from 12:30-6:30, and Sundays from 12-6. I’ll still be able to train, I’ll just have to be smarter with how I use my time—like normal people with office jobs and kids. No more Saturday 5-hour rides starting at 8:30! We have three weekends off, with one of them just happening to fall on the weekend of St. George 70.3 (hmmm). I’ll have to make up the sessions I miss for two other races (Desert Tri and Oceanside) in my own time. It will be over just in time to turn my bendy body back into a triathlon machine for Ironman Canada. (Finally decided on that one, too!)

That said, this week has a “calm before the storm” feel to it. I’m tying up loose ends (appointments, organizing), and trying to be more strategic about things like meal planning and establishing a repeatable weekly training rhythm. (Fingers crossed!) This weekend I’ll revel in my last leisurely long ride + hour on the couch + latte, because soon, life will take a new, and needed, turn.

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