How Teacher Training Changed My Life
- Janaye Hutchison -
I begin my yoga practice at the end of 2017. At the time, I was aching to feel some sort of sense of internal stability and someone I deeply admire and trust encouraged me to try it out. Let me tell you...I felt a lot more than a sense of stability. Why doesn’t anyone mention how pigeon pose holds the ability to emotionally tear you apart? It was the most grateful I’ve ever been for sweat, my tears blended in and I could push that vulnerability right back down. Or so I thought.
I quickly went back to my person desperately confused as to why I was feeling so much. She gently informed me that this is what staying present in your body can feel like. Because you actually start to feel. While my deepest desire is to remain authentic in all I do, I gotta be honest - I didn’t much care for this whole feeling my actual emotions thing. Contradicting, I know. However, as I continued my practice, I started realizing I was not only feeling heavy emotions...I was feeling positive emotions. I begin feeling joy and release and peace...perhaps most importantly, I started feeling safe. Safe to be in my own body. Safe to sit with all my emotions. Safe to let be and detach in the healthiest way I have ever detached.
Fast forward a year later, and my friend, the infamous Dave Matt, mentioned to me that there was a yoga teacher training in Costa Rica. Further, Christine Matt would be leading the second week of it. He had me at Costa Rica. Seriously, I did not put as much thought into this as maybe I should have. All I can say is that it was the end of winter and I was starved for sunshine. I look back now and realize this was the best timing. This is one decision I don’t think is necessarily crucial that a ton of thought goes into. As long as you’re open and interested, not in becoming a teacher even, but rather evolving your personal practice both physically and mentally...you’re ready to go.
My initial “Why” for going into this trip (besides sunshine) was to utilize it within the field of addiction rehabilitation, an area of interest for me as I pursue a psychology degree. But it quickly transformed into a more personal resonation, and that was more than enough reason for going. I’m not sure a yoga immersion can be impersonal. Attending teacher training impacted me in multifaceted ways that seem to continue to guide me today. It ultimately amplified everything I had started feeling - that sense of safety in my own body and ability to experience life more fully. My confidence in my practice has grown, I am both more driven to push myself and more comfortable to allow myself to rest. Because training involves exploring mind-body connection, I now find myself being able to distinguish what my body and gut is telling me versus acting only from emotion, which has helped me with stress-management and increased my understanding of others. I’m now able to recognize when I’m holding onto things that I don’t need to (spoiler alert: there are very few things I need to hold onto) and release them through my practice. Teacher training also connected me to community. Trekking through the various layers of training with others will tie you together in a unique way; as if your life trajectories have all simultaneously changed in distinctive ways. That simultaneousness forges an almost unexplainable connection. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I have more fun in my practice! Sometimes, yoga can seem like an intense, serious thing. Some days, it is. But it doesn’t have to be all the time. Teacher training brought a lightheartedness to my practice and a sense of child-like play in learning inversions and new poses and falling over and laughing with others.
My very favorite part of the training was the second week, because that’s when Christine arrived. What a relief. If you’ve taken her class (and you should), you know that Christine possesses this amazing ability to simultaneously kick your butt while maintaining all the sweetest sincerity and bringing such a sense of freedom to practice. Sometimes, when I’m doing the 143rd ab exercise that she’s called out, and she’s stopped counting because she’s so nicely assisting someone for what feels like an eternity but was probably actually 5 seconds, and then she picks up counting where she originally left off...I actually don’t mind, just because it’s her (and because these are the moments when my practice grows...but mostly, because it’s her). Most of the value of my teacher training was in the time Christine led. She not only brings a wealth of knowledge and passion around yoga, she brings an awareness and ability to see and hear others. She creates an environment of safety and acceptance, which makes all the difference in what can be such a vulnerable space. Christine didn’t just teach us about the physical practice of yoga, she taught us about the psychological and emotional side, how to better maintain our health, the deeper spiritual truths within yoga and how those are personally relevant, and how to maintain integrity in creating a career out of yoga. I fully trusted her to lead my training and continue to look to her for guidance within the various facets of my practice. I’ve been lucky to get to know her outside of yoga and I can assure you, she strives to maintain this unique genuineness in all areas of her life. I couldn’t ask for a better teacher to aspire to, and thinking of her and Kelly both leading a training with the contributions of their amazing team? That is going to be one fun, soulful, and valuable experience.