From Trainee to Teacher

By this time next month, I'll be a certified yoga teacher. Or an RYT-200, if you prefer. My YTT is almost done, and this is the last time I'll write a Training for Tuesday post as a technical trainee. It's, of course, time for me to get over-emotional and introspective about the last 13 weeks.
I've been really fortunate to have earned the trust and respect of my training instructor, Kelly, to already have begun teaching in the studio I practice and train in. I don't take that practical experience for granted, but I know that I would never, ever have felt prepared to take on teaching without everything I've learned and experienced throughout training, even if I was just over two months in when I got the call to head up my own regular class.

I shared my journey to the mat, on the mat, and to training here, so I won't rehash it all. And I've been sharing my weekly YTT reflections and experiences along with my practice notes here, so I'll spare you the nitty gritty. But here in week 14, with everything but two weeks of practice teaching in YTT remaining—during one of which I'll simply be a student to my fellow trainees—I have to feel grateful for the end being so close but already so nostalgic for the months just past, and take a look back in true blogger fashion.

On the one hand, it feels like we started just yesterday. I remember the first day of training, walking into Kelly's busy Sunday morning class for our initial contact hours with her before we headed into the training room. I remember rolling out my mat in the back of the room—I didn't know yet how crowded Kelly's classes would get, or how I would need to arrive 30 minutes early to get better real estate on the floor—next to a woman who I then overheard mention that she too was a trainee. I remember Kelly announcing that her trainees were joining the class today and the little bubble of applause from the yogis who were also teachers, or who would join us to present workshops over the coming weeks, or who were just excited for us.

But on the other hand, it feels like I've lived a lifetime in three months. I've learned so, so much—about yoga, about the body, about MY body, about the mind, about my mind. About teaching, sequencing, and being authentic as a yoga teacher. I may have been a good practitioner when I started YTT, but I was nowhere near ready to teach a class of my own. At least, not in comparison to where I am now, as a teacher and soon-to-be official RYT-200.

The Favorite Parts

It's cliche to say all of it has been my favorite, right? Well, I'm saying it anyway. There hasn't been a single negative to this experience. Not one day I haven't enjoyed. Not one lesson that hasn't been valuable and useful and important.

We've covered so much I wanted to learn more about: the eight limbs of yoga. Pranayama in depth with a workshop led by an incredible woman I'm lucky to still call my teacher, Agnes. Anatomy and physiology, useful for sequencing and for my other life as a runner. Ayurveda! Sanskrit! Hindu gods and goddesses who lend their names to postures and concepts called upon in yoga. It's all my favorite, and I've loved it all.

The Pleasant Surprises

Honestly, one of the things that kept me from enrolling earlier was the commitment to give up my Sundays for months on end. Turns out, there's almost nowhere I'd rather be on a Sunday than in YTT these past few months. I haven't even minded the early wake-up call and early morning sweat session—I usually much prefer to wake up for a few hours before I work out, race days being the exception.

I even have to tuck my tail between my legs and concede on the hot vs. non-hot yoga class. I love the heated classes, so much more than I thought I would. Before this, I was a dedicated non-hot practitioner, sticking to my home practice and Donna's not-hot class. But since literally every single other class in my studios is heated, and taking new teachers and observing other styles is an important part of training so I've had to dive in with both feet. I still don't buy into the idea that hot yoga is somehow "better" for you, or that it detoxes you—your kidneys do that. But it can be a more satisfying workout when you leave literally drenched in sweat on a 15-degree day. Not that yoga is all about the workout, but don't underestimate the power of sweat and concentration as a vehicle for meditation and pratayahara.

The Growth

My practice has transformed. It was strong before, but I can feel my body just naturally slipping into even foundational poses so much stronger, more easily, with better alignment. My body feels stronger, more open, more capable, and better able to withstand even more than before. My inversions and arm balances have come so far, and my body has responded so amazingly well to the more frequent practice.

(I should note here, I know the amount I practice is not accessible for most people. In YTT, unlimited yoga in our studios is included in the price of tuition. Since I work the desk two days and also teach at the studio, I'll continue to have unlimited yoga for free. If you're interested in more studio practice but find the financials prohibitive, look into karma yoga. Many studios have an exchange where if you work the desk (signing people in before class, cleaning the studio after class), you can get free classes.)

I can't say so much that I've changed much mentally through the process, because I've been on a journey of changing the way I think about things and having better control of my mind's tendency to slip to negative places for some time now. This YTT experience has absolutely helped though. Perhaps most importantly, it's given me more tools (pranayama, mudras, meditation, mantras) to access the parts of my mind I've needed to explore, and has made me more comfortable exploring them daily—rather than when they're forced to the surface, typically by something negative.

What I've Loved the Most

Besides the obvious and all of the above, the people I've had this experience with have made it all the better. I've made wonderful new friends, gotten to know incredible teachers, and bonded with a few women who make incredible mentors. I already miss seeing them and chatting with my classmates every single week. But hopefully we'll keep our promise to stay in touch long after we have certificates in hand.

What's Next

Because there's always something next, isn't there? I fully intend to continue my education to become the best teacher, the best student, the best yogi I can be.

Yin yoga caught my attention at Wanderlust last year, and I'm hoping sometime this year I'll find a program accessible to me for an additional certificate in Yin yoga. And Ayurveda! Even before Mara was finished giving her wonderful lesson I knew it would be something I had to pursue. There are 50 and 100-hour certificate programs for Ayurveda, and I'll be pursuing one of those too.

But most importantly, what's next for me is teaching. Growing my Sunday morning class and hopefully obtaining another at my beloved studio. Private, corporate classes. Other studios. Accessing my inner Donna, Kelly, Agnes, Mara, Ro. The gurus. Hopefully giving the gift that's been given to me by all of them, to another yogi. Because I've said it before and I'll say it again... yoga practice changes lives. The world would be a better place if everyone practiced yoga.

Oh, man. I can't believe it's almost over. I'm so pumped for this next phase, but unspeakably grateful to have had this experience, especially now as it draws to a close. If YTT is something you've considered yourself, whether you want to teach or deepen your practice—or both!—I say do it. Go for it, and let it change your life.

Over to the rest of you now. What are you doing to change your life this week, or this month? What are you training for? Grab a button and link up below!



  1. I am so proud of you, friend! You are nailing it & I know you are already doing incredible. I'm envious of those folks who get to take one of your classes!!!! One day when I make it to NJ, I'm going to be in the front row :)

  2. I love reading your YTT posts. I'm on Day 23 of a 30 Day Yoga Challenge. This is my 3rd attempt at the commitment - injury forced me to quit at Day 19 for the first two - but I've done yoga for 42 days in 2016...out of only 54. I've always considered myself a wannabe yogi. I'll get really into yoga and then just stop, whether because money is tight one month, or I focus more on running, but this year, practicing daily at home has been so transformative for me. I've definitely started thinking about YTT for the first time. I can't wait to get back into the studio and attempt 30 days of in-studio classes. I finally feel like I've committed to making yoga a part of my life and I'm so excited to see where this year takes me!

    Congratulations on almost finishing YTT! I'm sure you're going to be a fantastic teacher! I'll have to come check out one of your classes the next time I'm home in Jersey!

  3. so so awesome!! it's so great that you get to teach what you love :)

    my cousin also got certified and she travelled for some time teaching yoga and she loved every minute of it! she's now in korea with her husband so she's trying to get a few classes in there as well.

  4. It's so exciting that you're almost there! A dream becomes reality - isn't that a great feeling?

  5. This is so exciting for you, and I know you'll be a great teacher as it's so obvious how much you love it. Students pick up on that.

    Yoga is one of those things that I know I love and never make enough of an effort to do. I should probably change that at some point.

  6. I thought of you on Sunday while you were inevitably in class/teaching your own class, I was taking a Yoga for Runners class at Fleet Feet and kept thinking..."I wish this was Alyssa". It was a great practice but I feel like you would have had more insight being a runner AND a yogi. I'm so incredibly proud of you and (if you'd let me) would love to come up and visit and take one of your classes :) Sending you ALL the positive thoughts for the next steps in your journey !!!!

  7. I soon will have a meditative waterfall in my backyard. I will soon have hard floors inside again. I will soon harness my love for yoga and be moved by my body and breath along with the words you share. "Soon" is less than 2 sleeps away!! "Soon" is where your name is within my planner to meet in 2016. So much 'soon'.

  8. i have so many feelings! it really does feel like yesterday, this has just flown by (from someone who has had nothing to do with it lol). i am so glad that everything has been positive and nothing has been negative and yay hot yoga! so happy for you, you yoga teacher you. seriously. all the high fives.

  9. That's so awesome!!! I don't know if you posted about this already, but how was that first class? Were you nervous, was it harder or easier than you expected to give instructions? Does the yoga teacher training tell you how to talk to people or do you have to figure that out on your own?

  10. I seriously feel like you just started too-- I am soo excited for you to officially be done and I think it's pretty telling you made such an amazing choice if you truly love every aspect of it! I'm so happy for you and even though this is the end of your training, I know it's just the beginning of amazing things for your year to come!

  11. Congrats lady! How awesome that you'll be able to start teaching your own classes now! I've only done yoga a few times but I know it's something I need to get into more.. especially since I sit at a desk all day! I know yoga would help so much with that!

  12. Congrats! That is so exciting to be an instructor. I have an injury that has been in the healing process. I really need to get involved in yoga - I think it'll be good for the injury.

  13. Well that flew by, huh? What an amazing, incredible journey! I know you thought about doing this so many times before you actually jumped in, but the timing worked out this time just like it was supposed to. I'm so happy and grateful for you to have been given so many wonderful opportunities throughout the last 13 weeks! I can't wait to take a class with you, for real. Yesterday I was asking Ben a question about tree pose (because he just stands like that on a normal basis...) and then I was like oh never mind, I know a yoga teacher, I'll just ask her ;)

  14. I'm so proud of you and happy for you. What an much growth in so many areas.

  15. This just makes me smile. I'm so proud of you for going after this and doing it and I am so happy that you are doing something you truly love.

  16. I hope I get to take one of your classes someday (even though I don't live nearby at all!!) Thank you so much for sharing all of your thoughts on this experience with us. It has been so inspiring to read about your growth!!


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