As a beginner and young yoga student, I’ll admit I was really nervous walking into my first day of teacher training. I thought maybe I was too inexperienced and young to be doing the training, maybe I should wait a little longer, but no- I am totally excited to have a whole month dedicated to nothing but yoga- I am so doing this.
I’m about to begin my junior year in college. My yoga journey began after a friend and I ventured into a bikram class. I began going here and there on the weekends when my schedule would allow. I tried some vinyasa classes and quickly realized how much I loved yoga. The following summer between my freshman and sophomore years I did yoga every chance I could get, feeling drawn to my mat. Initially, I saw yoga as something that would help me deal with the stress of school and become more flexible. I found an instructor whose classes I loved and as time went on I became increasingly curious as she kept throwing in foreign Sanskrit words, telling me to engage my bandhas, and to keep breathing. What is she telling me to do? What is a bandha and how in the world do you expect me to breath in this pose? I felt slightly ridiculous. I even fell in a warrior II pose- yep, I’m that clumsy. But, I laughed at myself and realized I was having fun while doing something good for my body.
When the fall came and the school year started, I had to put yoga on the side. I was a swimmer and yoga was the last thing I wanted to do after a hard week of practices. Yet, on the weekends I found that doing a morning class every now and then left me feeling refreshed and energized. I convinced my friends who had cars on campus to come try a class with me (I needed a ride there somehow after all), and soon they began texting me to go to yoga. After the season ended in the spring, practices eased up and I had some time to go to classes, dragging a few more people along with me in the process. The end of the spring semester began to approach and I needed something to do for the summer. I had applied for a few internships, but I was either too young and inexperienced (somehow it seems college kids are expected to have experience to get experience) or the internship was unpaid and too far away from home. I didn’t expect to find the teacher training. I was looking up the class schedule for a studio at home for the summer, White Orchid Yoga, saw the tab at the top of the webpage and decided to check it out.
I will forever be grateful that I did Ally’s teacher training. I wanted to learn about yoga so I could develop my practice more and so I could share it with other people. I knew the training would help me deepen my own practice and understanding of yoga and why, after hundreds of centuries, the practice has continued to enrich the lives of so many people. I had found a connection with it and looked forward to going to class on the weekends with friends. Doing the teacher training felt right and made me feel excited as much as it did nervous.
Ally is the type of person who brings out the best in everyone. She literally glows and her happy, positive energy is contagious. She embodies the ideals yoga strives to instill in practitioners and is encouraging, humble, honest, and intelligent. I think the quality that stands out most about Ally, though, is that she is the kindest person you could ever come across. She looks for the good reflecting the good within her. She makes everyone feel special and loved. Simply put, Ally is a beautiful person inside and out, and is an inspiration for not only blossoming yoga instructors or students, but for all people. If I have any success a yoga instructor I owe it all to Ally Ford.
But, aside from instilling in me a desire to teach and give me the tools to be a good teacher, spending time with Ally has also instilled in me a desire to be a better me. The first day we sat down to do chanting and meditation I literally sat there thinking, “there is no way I am going to get into this; this is weird.” Ally has an absolutely amazing voice though, so I enjoyed listening to her sing the chants. But when the time came for the room to be silent and meditate, I pretended I was actually doing it and waited for the time to be up so I could get up and move again.
By the third day though I realized I had a month to go doing this meditation thing, so I decided that if I was going to sit there I might as well make the most it. Along the way, I wound up learning quite a bit about myself and even began to like meditation.I feel like I’ve just unlocked a door and am beginning a lifelong journey. For this reason I am thankful I went into the training as a beginner. I was free from expectations about the training or even what yoga should be like. I was able to let it change me and grow with the experience. I found a whole new type of yoga and have fallen in love with Mysore-style Ashtanga, something that I don’t think I would have ever started had it not been for the training.
I even feel like I’ve found myself a little bit. In college, everyone always asks, “What do you want to be?” and “What do you want to do?” Even in life we are always looking to find something that defines who we are. What the training and yoga has taught me is that rather than looking outside to find answers, we should look within ourselves to find them. When I get asked these questions, I either get really stressed out or really annoyed. “I’m only twenty! How do you expect me to know,” I want to shout. I have ideas, I have goals, but I don’t have definite answers. I’m just beginning to learn about myself, about life and the thought of what the future holds used to really scare me because I don’t have some finite career path laid out for myself. I am an International Studies and Spanish double-major; there’s so much I can do with that, though I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. Rather than being totally freaked out about the unknown, I’ve become more comfortable with it and more excited about. I think I’ve gained the ability to see things a bit clearer now and what I see is beautiful because life is a truly beautiful gift and I think the ultimate goal should be to embrace every day, all the little things, to smile, to laugh, to cry, to give hugs, and let everything else come along the way. If we’re happy we’ll see happy and spread happy. I always have my yoga practice and the teacher training experience. The training may have only lasted for a short period of time, but it gave me some amazing foundations, some insights into myself and has opened the door to the wonderful world of yoga.