“We are all just imperfect and right the way we are.”

I Trained To Be A Yoga Teacher and Here’s What Happened

A year ago, I went to my favorite Sunday morning yoga class taught by my favorite teacher. In chatting with her after the session, she looked at me for a moment, and said very directly, “You’re ready for teacher training.”

I’m not even sure if I gave an intelligent response. Being a yoga teacher was not in the cards. Because, why?! But, completely uncharacteristic for me and without overthinking it, 6 months later I took a leap of faith and jumped into 200-hour yoga teacher training head-first.

It wasn’t what I expected – because I thought we’d be doing TONS of yoga: perfecting and adjusting! We did plenty of that, don’t get me wrong, but some of the most important moments in my training were the ones that were spent sitting, chatting, questioning, and learning.

We’d come together on Tuesday & Friday evenings or Saturday afternoons and talk about how our day went. Or classes we’d been to, or anything we’d read or watched (yoga-related) lately.

At first I was confused. How is talking about this stuff – about too many work emails, or a stolen credit card, or someone’s parenting challenges — going to help me be a better yoga teacher?

But yoga is truly about how we live our lives and react or connect to the environment and people around us. It was about creating a space where we could be open and genuine (our true selves!) No judgment.

From those seemingly non-yoga-related discussions, we gained the strength to handle all of the mini-battles we fight daily and discovered how important we really are. That we are all just imperfect and right the way we are.

This is exactly what you need to be a teacher and a guide for others. The ladies in my class were all different from me and everyone had a story of how ended up there. But we all needed yoga in some way, seeking guidance and direction in where we were at that point in our lives. We could then take all of our past experiences to shape who we’d become and reach as teachers.

Here’s what happened when I spent 8 weeks in yoga teacher training:

1. I made friendships with some pretty amazing people who are nothing like me.

Even today, I know I have their unwavering support in everything I do. I’m in awe of what they do and have overcome and thankful to know such beautiful people who always have my back. I realized that teacher training isn’t a one-and-done experience like any other certificate course or training class you’ll forget about in 2 weeks. It’s a forever connection and I will always have a team of cheerleaders in my fellow teachers and teacher guide.

2. I learned how to better manage stressful situations.

I learned to take a step back when I’m getting amped up. Is it worth freaking out over this blah-blah-blah work thing? What does it mean to me 10 days or 10 years from now? It’s perspective that I didn’t have before and it was the 8-week immersion I needed to build a habit to prevent anxiety and stress from creeping back in.

3. I found a new way to explain the good things that were happening around me.

And as the analytical type, I couldn’t explain how good things started coming easily when I let go and followed my growing intuition, or consciousness (which all started with that leap of faith in teacher training.) Things just started working out all around in business, relationships, and life in general when I began on this path, and I had no idea I’d be here today. I feel like I haven’t had to fight to get here.

4. I gained awareness and direction.

In looking around, I’d notice how other people were disconnected (which, in a few words, means not contributing something positive to the world or the universe.) As a way of living life and listening to our intuition, teacher training helped me tune in to that little voice – the gut feeling – to show me the big picture, be grateful for what I have, and to do the work that makes me feel like I’m doing something good around here.

5. I experienced and observed personal growth and self-discovery.

Yoga teacher training sent me through the whole spectrum of emotions: I can’t do this. Can I do this? MAYBE I can do this. Self doubt, tough or painful emotions, and everything in between. Yoga really does quiet the mind to prepare for meditation, and in the process of teacher training, there was a lot of journaling and self-reflection. It wasn’t always pretty, but I found some new strength and resilience through yoga for everyday moments in my life.

Thinking About Yoga Teacher Training for Yourself?

Read Stephanie Bartley’s tips on selecting a program that is right for you here.

About: Stephanie Bartley is an engineer-turned-health nerd. She is as a functional medicine health coach in Orange County/Big Bear Lake, using yoga, mind-body, nutrition, and lifestyle changes to help heal clients with chronic illness.

A former ultra-marathon runner, Stephanie found yoga on her personal journey with illness; today, she has fully reversed autoimmune thyroid disease, despite being told it was “the impossible.” When not practicing yoga, you’ll find Stephanie making jewelry on Etsy (shop: TheOtherStephanie) and run-hiking the Big Bear trails with her husband and four-legged fur baby. Connect with Stephanie and read more at https://www.thesummitcoaches.com/

If you would like to apply to teach at an upcoming Big Bear Yoga Festival, find the application here!