The best gift I have ever given myself was completing 200 hours of yoga teacher training. I say this because those 200 hours spent practicing with an experienced guru gave me the ability and confidence to teach myself and to continue the practice right at home. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to complete a 200 hour yoga training to practice on your own, or to teach yourself. There are plenty of ways for you to learn yoga solo. But yoga teacher training has made a major difference in my personal practice and the way I choose to deepen. I feel safe. I feel just as strong on my own. I feel self-disciplined and self-sufficient. I feel confident that I know how to hold a pose with proper alignment. I feel better about my practice because I have learned the benefits each Sivananda pose holds. And the best part is, I don’t have to pay per class. I don’t have to crack out my wallet, fill up the gas tank, or invest extra time getting to a studio. I can practice right at home!
Before the training, I practiced daily using YouTube videos and on occasion I visited yoga studios to check how I was progressing. I was reluctant about over spending on yoga props, classes, or work out clothes. You see, I consider myself a minimalist, so I spend money only on things I need. I now have 4 or 5 yoga mats, blocks, and a yoga wheel but they were mostly gifts lovingly bestowed on me by my friends and family. They now serve as a gentle reminder during my practice that whatever you set your heart on, those who love you will meet you there.
Now you may be wondering how much I spent on my 200 hours of training. The answer might just knock you off your feet. I spent a total of $800 for 200 hours of training. This included my accommodations and food. (And of course priceless traveling experiences!) I was in heaven the whole time…and that feeling remains as I continue my practice today. Not only am I able to guide my own yoga practice, I’m also able to teach others- and that to me is precious. It’s something that will never be taken away from me because knowledge has power. In this way, the training has become a gift not just for me but for those I love, too.
My husband, for instance, is currently experiencing back aches. He doesn’t do any yoga at all, but when he does have back pain I can help him at home to stretch and relieve some of the pain and tension. Thanks to those stretches, my husband has been waking up with less back tension and he feels better throughout the day. Close friends often ask questions I can answer for them right then and there, mostly about how to get started or how to stay motivated. Of course I don’t ever pretend to be an expert or have all the answers, but I have to say it feels good to have some of the answers available for those who are curious. If something is beyond my reach of knowledge I let that person know that I am not sure.
This process has taught me that no one can beat you out of the knowledge you have acquired. There’s so much power in that sentiment. The physical practice of yoga leads to discipline and self-discipline leads to growth.
When I am not satisfied with something, I have learned to observe my thought patterns. I ask myself, “Are my thoughts supporting my intentions?” If not, it is time to plant myself deep in the ground and get back to basics. I take my practice back to beginner mode, concentrating on 5 minutes of stillness or 5 minutes of gentle stretches. I have learned not to wait for the answers to come, but to pursue them from within, to strive for peace with everyone but more so with myself.
I have noticed that when things aren’t going my way or when I’m stressed beyond words that I don’t handle it well. I get anxious, antsy, and impulsive. Unfortunately, this leads to more stress, strain, or unnecessary arguments with my husband. With an on going practice of yoga though, I have trained myself to think positively instead of dwelling on fear. Now I dwell on the solutions. Something I have learned through self-discipline, through finding stillness, through the silence of a meditation practice, and through the presence of body and mind. All of which I can get … YOU GUESSED IT! … right at home.
Before yoga, I was someone that was good at many things but never great at anything. I have taken up hobbies, jobs, careers, relationships, books, blogs, and have quit them all. I begin super excited about each new endeavor and in a short couple of months my excitement wanes. Then I’ll take on a new thing, never to finish. I used to blame outside circumstances like location, not enough money, too far, not cool enough, not good enough, not social enough, not fun enough. In reality, I lacked consistency. I lacked self-control. I lacked self-discipline. I know you see me write a lot about self-discipline but it’s something I had to learn first-hand how to develop. Thankfully, yoga worked. I have learned that the bridge to accomplishing anything is perseverance. It’s practice. It’s doing something over and over again until we get it. Without a doubt, I had to learn to persevere.
Yoga works through the inside out.
Below, you’ll find the YouTube videos I used when I began practicing yoga. My practice transformed when I committed to using one video at a time. I would do the same video every day for two or three weeks until I had them memorized and could do the whole thing without looking at the screen. If you’re looking to kickstart your at-home practice, give this method a try. Choose a video and go for it!