Take a moment to think about how yoga happened to you…

Take a moment to think about how yoga happened to you. How did it affect your life? Almost everyone I’ve asked has their own unique story about how yoga came into their lives and why it has stayed with them. For me, yoga turned everything upside down – in much needed and life altering way. This is my story.

Last year, my family and I got the opportunity to go on a journey that would turn out to be transformational. Through my husband’s job, we were offered to relocate from Scandinavia to SoCal. Back then I wasn’t too sure about the whole idea of leaving our home, family and friends behind. Sure, the thought of living under the Californian sun was tempting, but I had doubts and fears about how our family would transition into an entirely different way of life.

For months we prepared for the relocation. Sorted out all the practicalities related to a big move. Except for spending a lot of time with our gorgeous little daughter, I didn’t really have a plan for the year to come. When family and friends asked me what I was going to do with all that free time I would have when not working, my answer was simply “practice yoga”. Apart from the fact that you actually don’t have that much free time when you are a stay-at-home- mom, this is exactly what happened.

But I was surprised by my own answer. Where did it come from? Really, my only experience from yoga was some not-too-inspiring prenatal classes and a few studio classes under the influence of blasting music from the spinning class next door.

My answer came from deep within, from my heart…

Looking back now, my answer came from deep within, from my heart. My heart was wiser than me. It knew what I hadn’t been able to tune into – I needed to change my life and yoga was the answer. For years – no, decades – I had ignored every possible signal from my body. A master of overriding my own security system, I powered through challenges and griefs. Living with chronic whole-body pain and stress became normal. Anxiety and the famous blues were regular visitors. At the same time, I felt I was so fortunate in my life that I should feel good. Great family, awesome friends, married to the love of my life and blessed with a wonderful daughter. On top of that, a successful career and great colleagues. Still, despite all good things surrounding me, I was not in a good place.

Physically I felt closer to retirement than the 35-year old that I actually am. Mentally I was stressed, scattered and overwhelmed. I felt I wasn’t the best mom I could be. My breathing was always shallow and strained and my muscles were aching with tension. I felt stiff and dull inside and out. Somewhere along the line, I had lost myself and my shine.

Soon after arriving in Irvine, I began looking for a yoga studio. From the moment I stepped into Be the Change Yoga I felt at home. I felt that it all made sense – the relocation, the break from our every-day routines back home and the sudden desire to make yoga a part of my life.

Life slowly began to change…

From that first class that I took, life began to slowly change. After attending some classes, I stumbled upon the Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) programs and it got me curious. After reading through the course program I just knew. This is it. Never before having thought about being a yoga teacher, I don’t know what actually compelled me to fill out the application and submit it. Yes, the course program looked really interesting, I love the studio and the teachers – but this was a decision made on a deeper level. As I would later come to learn in the YTT program, yoga is about acting now to prevent future suffering (sutra 2.17). This was exactly what I was doing – albeit on a subconscious level.

Don’t get me wrong here; it is not like I haven’t been interested in health, exercise or nutrition before. On the contrary, those were my favorite topics to indulge in whenever I had a spare moment. Still, I hadn’t really connected with yoga on a deeper level. I hadn’t personally experienced the reason for why yoga is so much more powerful than other forms of exercise: the link between body, breath and mind.

The link between body, breath and mind is also the all-pervasive theme throughout the 200 h YTT program that Be the Change offers. And what a life- changing, transformational experience it is. I will not spend too much time here dwelling on the content of the course. You can find all that and more on the website. Just suffice to say that it teaches you everything that you need to know to be a top-tier yoga teacher.

The way to measure progress, is how your relationships improve…

What I would like dwell a bit more on is that this is a program filled with compassion, love and wisdom. It teaches that yoga is for everyone. Not only for the fit, flexible and fabulous (well, we are all fabulous, but that’s a topic for another day). It teaches you that yoga is so much more than the physical asanas. That the way to measure progress in your yoga practice is not about whether you can put your foot behind your neck – but that you can see your relationships improving. If you embrace it, this is a program that gives you so much more that a teacher’s certificate – it can change your life.

I cannot say enough good things about our teachers, Katie and Allison. They are just awesome people. They are knowledgeable and passionate about yoga in a way that I personally haven’t come across before. I can relate and adhere to the ethics and values they are teaching. I have learned so much over these past months and would dare to say that I am now a confident, competent and well-rounded yoga teacher. With what I know now about anatomy, sequencing, alignment and philosophy, I feel ready to teach. I know how to make yoga accessible to different levels and populations. This is a huge contrast to the yoga-rookie that I was only a few months ago. I’ll willingly admit that I didn’t know the concept of sun salutations. No clue about the endless wisdom contained in the yoga sutras. Now, I could teach sun salutations if you woke me up at 3 am and I would probably be able to chant a sutra or two while doing it. I think (and hope!) that I will continue to learn for the rest of my life, but now I have a solid foundation to build upon.

All the wisdom we need is accessible within…

Through the YTT program, classes and other events at the studio, I have made memories and friends for life. I have found a community. Every day, I cherish these experiences. I am thankful for the deep connection I have found to my body, mind and breath. This experience has taught me how inherently intelligent our hearts are – if we just give them the time of the day to listen. All the wisdom we need is accessible within. So set an intention to listen to your heart every day. And I mean REALLY listen. Then reflect upon that inner wisdom and use it for making good choices and taking action. Make requests. Because if you don’t listen to your heart and body, eventually you will get ill, stressed and overwhelmed. You will feel as if you are caught in a constant whirlwind.

Yoga helps us to quiet down and listen. It helps us to let go of fears and misperceptions that are often guiding us through life. With these obstacles removed, it is so much easier to take a step out of the whirlwind and listen to that inner voice. I now feel like I have regained control of my life and my health. I am still experiencing pains and the occasional day where I feel blue, but now I have more and better tools in my toolbox. When I don’t feel good, I no longer ignore what my body is trying to tell me. No, I meet myself with compassion. I practice yoga, meditate or rest if I need to. I breathe. I go for walks. I do something creative or I sing and dance with my daughter. And I allow myself to be silly, joyful and authentic. I feel like I am peeling away years of pain and stress and I feel my shine slowly returning. I know that my husband and daughter can both see and feel the change, which is enough of a reward in itself.