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my yoga journey from student to teacher

My Yoga Journey: From Student to Teacher

Embark on a captivating voyage as I share the twists and turns of my 25-year yoga journey from student to teacher. From the awe-inspiring moments as a beginner on the mat to the fulfilling role of a teacher, and finally, landing in the cherished position of a devoted mentor to fellow instructors.

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My yoga journey from student to Teacher Transcript

🎶 Now this is a story all about how

My life got flipped, turned upside down,

And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right so,

And I’ll tell you how I became a yoga teacher all those years ago.🎶

My yoga journey started in the summer of 1998. At the time, I was a corporate trainer and developer, and I was traveling the U. S. providing all kinds of training.

It was during a management training where I tasked the group to come up with some goals for the rest of the year and into the new year. As a trainer, I always felt like I never wanted to give any type of exercises that I wasn’t willing to participate in myself.

When it came time to share our goals, I went first and I remember writing on the whiteboard that I wanted to give yoga a try. I don’t even know where that concept would have come into play. I just have that management meeting as like my first clear memory of wanting to try yoga.

My Yoga Journey as a Student

Fast forward a few months, I was taking kickboxing classes at a martial arts studio in the North Dallas area. One day I came across a flyer advertising yoga classes that were going to start up soon at the martial arts studio.

Intrigued, I took the flyer with me and I showed up for the very first class. There were six of us and we had our mats around in a circle. I remember the teacher, she was this passionate, fiery, red-headed woman, and she took me through my very first yoga asana class.

I remember a couple of postures, doing some warrior postures, and savasana. What really stuck with me was this feeling I had when it was all over. I would like to say that it was a feeling of euphoria or of total peace and relaxation, but really the overriding feeling that I had was I was amazed I could work my body in such a way and never move off the mat or spend an hour pounding a punching bat.

Immediately, I switched my membership from kickboxing yoga and that is where my yoga journey began. That was 25, almost 26, years ago and I’m thankful every day for putting it out into the universe and the universe answering me just a few months later.

My Yoga Journey to a Teacher

You would think that as a corporate trainer and someone who enjoyed aerobic activities that I might have become a fitness instructor at some point, but I never really had that calling until yoga.

A few months into my journey as a student, I decided I really wanted to learn how to teach. [Yoga] was life changing and I was starting to reap other benefits of practicing yoga postures, breathing, and savasana. I wanted to pay it forward, I wanted to inspire like my yoga instructor had inspired me.

At the time, there were no yoga teacher training programs. There weren’t even yoga studios like there are now. I had to approach my teacher, my mentor, someone who was amazing at all the postures, and ask her if she would be willing to teach me how to teach yoga to others.

One night after class, I went up to her and I said, “I’m really loving everything. You might not know this, but I do corporate training and development for my day job. I would love to learn how to teach yoga.”

I don’t remember too much of what she said. I do remember this kind of long lecture-feeling explanation that she gave me. In the back of my head, all of these doubts are running through it like:

  • She doesn’t think I’m capable.
  • Or that I’d be a good teacher.
  • She doesn’t think this or that or whatever it may be.

After she finished what felt like a really long lecture, but was probably only two or three minutes, I paused because I didn’t hear a clear cut answer from her. Like, yes, I will teach you, or no, I won’t teach you.

So I pulled up my big girl panties and I asked one more time. “Does that mean you’re going to teach me? You’re willing to take me on and show me how to be an instructor?”

Obviously she did because here I am today, still teaching yoga, still working with instructors.

Unofficial yoga teacher training

A few weeks later, I started working with my mentor. There were two or three other ladies who were also interested in learning how to teach. The way she trained us, it was very casual, no less serious, but just a little bit more casual.

We met once a week, and she would go over some things with us and help us out. But really, it was more like of throwing us out there and then just letting us go.

The way I learned yoga was in a very specific format. My teacher, she would record all of the yoga classes and they were recorded on CDs. Then the way that she wanted us to teach was she wanted that CD of her voice playing in the background and we would repeat what was happening on the CD.

It was kind of an unusual way of going about it, but a lot of people enjoyed that approach because basically they had everything that they needed to say. They had an entire script front to back, top to bottom, and they just had to memorize four or five different classes and then they were golden. I was fine with that too, because I had no idea what I was doing either.

Plus it was my teacher’s way of doing things and if I wanted to teach yoga, that was the way I was going to have to do it. I didn’t know any difference, so it was all good.

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Getting Good at Teaching yoga

About 18 months later, my teacher moved from operating classes at the martial arts studio and opened up her own space, her own studio.

Probably one of the first or maybe even second yoga studios ever in the Dallas Fort Worth area. I moved right along with her. She also had some other transitions that she was working on, testing out.

One of those was to allow the yoga teachers to teach on their own, to not have to follow the script, to not have to play the CD in the background.

At the time I jumped at the opportunity, and you know, to do a bit of a humble brag, I was pretty good at it. I was able to walk into a room, sense the energy, ask what people were looking for, and then without following a script, be able to teach a well rounded, well-structured yoga class.

I loved it this way, having that freedom of walking into the class and teaching, not on the fly, but teaching in a way that allowed me to be present with them and to change up things if they needed to be changed.

My mentor decided she wanted to go back to the way that it had been done, which was her voice in all of the classes in the background. I was one of the few teachers that she allowed to continue to do it on my own. I was able to teach this way until I ended up moving.

Building a Yoga Following

When I moved, it was no longer feasible to continue teaching and driving because it was 45 minutes away to get to the studio. Sadly, for me, I had to quit teaching and I went back to aerobics and working out at the gym, but I really didn’t like it. I missed my yoga.

My then boyfriend, who shortly became my husband asked, “Why don’t you start your own yoga?”

I thought that was great for everybody else. They’d be able to get their yoga in, but that still leaves me without having a place to practice yoga.

Following his advice, I went to the local community center, talked to the manager, and found a couple of spots on the schedule in which I could offer some yoga classes. Then we put together some marketing pieces that were going to be distributed around to neighborhoods.

The day arrived of my first class in the community center. I hoped like my teacher before me that I would have at least four, five, six people show up and be interested in taking yoga. I was pleasantly surprised. There was probably nine to 10 people that showed up to take yoga from me.

There are probably about four or five ladies from that core group that I am still in contact with today, 20 something years later.

That’s something that you don’t ever forget as a yoga teacher, those kind of connections, that kind of impact that you make on people that 20 years later, you would still be connected to them. You would still be interested in what’s going on in their lives.

My Yoga Journey to Studio Ownership

After teaching in the community center, I then went on to add more classes at a dance studio. I was providing yoga in two different places and filling up those classes on the schedule.

After about a year, it was time to open up my own space, to open up my first yoga studio. That was Esprit de Yoga.

Besides being connected and engaging with the community and making friends and connections with so many incredible people was the fact that I had people driving from all over the area to come and take yoga. I had people coming from different outlying towns because I was the only place in the area that was offering yoga classes.

Where my mentor was one of the first to offer yoga classes and open up a studio in the Dallas area, I was able to be one of the first people that offered yoga classes and opened the first yoga studio in the North Texas area. Now, obviously, 20 years later, there’s a lot more yoga studios and people don’t have to drive that far anymore to take yoga classes.

However, it’s one of those things that when I look back on it, it’s really a proud moment that, you know, that was something that I was able to accomplish.

Expanding my Teaching Knowledge

Just a few months into opening up my Esprit de Yoga studio in 2002, I wanted to get some more formalized training. Not that the training that I had had from my previous mentor was bad, I just wanted to extend my training, extend my knowledge. Keep learning to be able to keep offering new things and better things for my community.

I found a lady, not my mentor, in Dallas who offered a formalized yoga teacher training. I signed up for it and made the drive and took a couple of classes.

And I was just…I was deeply disappointed.

Probably because I was not taking yoga from her, so I wasn’t bought in to the way that she taught and wanted the people under her to teach.

After a couple of times, I ditched that training. I didn’t finish it. But what happened was I returned home, and looking at how she had structured the training, which wasn’t very structured at all, I thought to myself, I can do that and I can do it better.

In the span of about six weeks, I put together a teacher training program. I relied heavily on my education in journalism and human resources, and of course, my experience as a corporate trainer prior to yoga. I used all of that combined with my passion for yoga and that was when Purple Lotus Yoga was created.

My Yoga Journey to Mentor

A few months after opening the yoga studio, I realized I couldn’t teach all these classes myself because I was going to burn my candle out pretty quickly.

In January 2003, I opened up the very first yoga teacher training in the North Texas area with my fingers crossed (again) for a handful of people to sign up and join me.

Happily, six signed up to do yoga teacher training with me, and again, many of those participants from that very first session, I’m still in contact with. We still keep in touch. I still see what they’re doing with their yoga lives, and they keep up with what I’m doing in my yoga life.

At the time, yoga was growing in popularity, but not to the degree that itt has caught on in the last few years. When I put the teacher training together, opened the doors, and had this first few participants with me, I really thought that maybe after a couple of years, max, I’d have trained all the people in the area that had any interest in teaching yoga. Then I would move on to something else.

Imagine my surprise, imagine my delight, when Purple Lotus Yoga was something that I was able to do for 20 years from 2003 to 2023.

It’s quite an accomplishment to be able to to do something you love and that impacts people for two decades. And, along the way, yoga did increase in popularity yoga. The number of yoga studios increased, the number of teacher trainings increased as well.

So I wasn’t the only one on the block anymore. I had competition all around me. Although competition is a really strong word, especially when you look at yoga as a whole. There really is enough for everybody to go around.

Even when I wasn’t the only studio or the only teacher training program around I was able to sustain and keep going for 20 years.

The end of an Yoga era?

The pandemic put a chokehold on what I was able to do with yoga teacher training. There was no such thing as in person training with the pandemic.

Certainly it’s never fun to lose a business, or to lose the security that comes from your business. That definitely was a negative that came from the pandemic. However, on the positive side, I had been feeling really burned out after 18, 19 years of providing teacher training.

What was I going to do next? I still wanted to be involved with yoga teachers. I still wanted to provide training, coaching, mentoring, and education. I just wanted to do it in a different way.

That slow demise of yoga teacher training gave me the opportunity to step back and do some introspection and find out, you know, what is it that I really want to do? What is it that I’m really being called to do? What is my encore career in yoga going to be?

The answer that unveiled itself had to do with working with yoga teachers in more of a lifestyle, sharing the wisdom that I have gained over the last 20 years and putting that out there in a podcast format.

And like that first yoga class I offered in the community center, then the classes in my own space, and then that the first yoga teacher training, I hope people show up and want to be a part of it.

If that’s you, I welcome you to the Cozy Yoga Life podcast where I plan to share my wisdom, and have open, honest and raw conversations about what it’s been like to be a yoga teacher and a yoga teacher trainer and educator.

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