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How Yoga Changed Me : Part Two

I previously wrote about how taking up yoga several years ago has helped me. Not only am I stronger and more flexible, I have a better connection to myself and my outlook has completely changed. This time, I want to focus on how my yoga teacher training course has helped me even more.
I’ve been on yoga retreats and to workshops on a quest to learn as much as I can about the practice and philosophy. This time last year, I took the huge decision to sign up for a yoga teacher training course.
The course didn’t start until April so I had four months to worry if I was ready! I remember going to that first training weekend plagued with self-doubt. Did I really think I could do this? I’d yet to attempt the more advanced postures – inversions in particular made me nervous!
I won’t pretend that my doubts magically disappeared, but they were definitely eased. My teacher, Ian, made it very clear that we didn’t need to be able to contort ourselves into all sorts of shapes to be good teachers. When you think about it, that’s very true. Just because you can put your legs behind your head or hang out in a handstand, doesn’t mean you can teach it.
I didn’t sign up to the course dead set on teaching at the end. It’s something I’ve grappled with all the way through. Even now, I’m only in the early stages of working out what, when and where I want to teach. But I’m so proud of myself that I’ve decided I will teach.
The thought of standing in front of a group of people is something that has always terrified me, but the way the course was structured helped to slowly build my confidence. We were eased into the idea of teaching very gently, working in groups and teaching a few minutes at a time. It all culminated in leading a workshop (I wrote more about that in my article on touch). I’m so thankful to Ian for not throwing me in at the deep end. I’m sure I’d have run away screaming if teaching had been on the agenda in those first few weekends!
During the nine months of the course, I went through a lot of change personally and I don’t think It was a coincidence. I’ve mentioned before how I left a toxic workplace last year. I’m sure that the confidence I gained through my yoga course is what helped me to see the situation for what it was and leave.
I won’t bore you with the details but it was an environment governed by intimidation and humiliation. It was a place I dreaded going to every day. I’d go into my training weekends feeling drained and anxious. They were like the life-force I needed to pick me back up.
A continuous theme of the course was learning to relinquish ego – in both practice and teaching. The irony that I was working in an office preoccupied with ego wasn’t lost on me! Those Monday mornings after training were the hardest. Knowing that I was going from the supportive community of my fellow trainees to pretty much the polar opposite, was a struggle. As hard as it was, that drastic contrast was the eye-opener I needed.
I realised just how damaging a negative work environment is. I was fortunate enough not to have a mortgage or a family to support so I walked away. I handed in my notice and went on a yoga retreat! I spend the next few months thinking about what I wanted to do next.
As much as the yoga training was equipping us to teach, it was just as much a self-development exercise. I surprised myself that I could stand up and teach – something I thought I’d never be able to do. That encouraged me to look beyond my safety net when it came to my career. I’ve worked in marketing pretty much since I graduated. It’s what I know but I can’t say it’s fulfilling. My newfound confidence helped encourage me to think about what my interests and passions are. Top of my list were writing, wellbeing, animals and of course, yoga!
Since I handed in my notice last summer, I’ve been searching for ways I can spend more time doing the things I enjoy. I now volunteer at my local Blue Cross rehoming centre as a cat carer. Knowing that I’m giving back and making a difference to the animals is so rewarding (plus I get to cuddle lots of kittens!). I completed my yoga course last month and am now looking at teaching opportunities. And, I found Sentient Life! Had I been in full time employment when this opportunity came up, I don’t think I’d have considered going for it. I’m so glad I did. Being able to combine my love of writing and wellbeing is something I’m thoroughly enjoying!
Oh, and I’m now working in a new office where trust and respect is a given. I’ve only just got used to not looking over my shoulder and waiting for the next storm!
I ended 2017 on such a positive note and I’m hopeful that this year will be even better. Signing up to my yoga course exactly a year ago was genuinely the best decision I ever made. I never expected it to have such a profound impact on my life away from yoga and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learnt in my own teaching.
Laura Armstrong
Laura Armstrong
Laura is a writer, yoga teacher and reiki practitioner from Worcester. Her mindfulness journey began two years ago after heading off on her first wellbeing retreat - now she’s hooked! Aside from yoga and wellbeing, Laura’s interests include running, baking, cats and drinking copious amounts of green tea.

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