365 Days after Yoga Tree Teacher Training

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Almost at the one year anniversary mark since I have graduated from YogaTree’s Winter 2013 weekend intensive teacher training course, I find myself back on my yoga mat, reflecting on the amazing experience. A lot has happened for me at the personal and physical level since taking the course.

Among some of the biggest changes that has transpired for me is my new found attitude towards life, my health and overall fitness. What started out being my first steps towards gaining a deeper understanding of the Yoga practice and a potential change in my career had quickly transformed into a life-changing experience that afforded me a new perspective on how I viewed life, time, and age.

It’s hard not to let the notion of age and societal pressures force you to conform to the ‘inevitable stages of life’, creating this preconceived notion that you have to hit your bucket list of ‘life experiences’ before (insert age here). . With the big 30 looming closely ahead, I was ever more anxious about not really having done much to be proud of in my life. The realization of how wrong this school of thought was crystallized while taking the Teacher training course.

As an accountant by day, (a profession I can’t say excites me to the core), it was hugely refreshing to meet people from all walks of life; Occupational therapist, engineer, mechanic, event planner, public relations coordinator, full time moms, half-time moms, project managers… these were only a sample of the range in backgrounds and personalities that I came across in the course.

And for 8-9 hours a day every weekend for four months, I shared some of the deepest
moments with these new found friends. Through our practice and exchange of conversations and experiences, I became more deeply acquainted with my self-practice and was positively influenced by my friends’ practice, their voices and their life’s stories. This was the place where it was okay to let go of your day-time identity and become a student of yoga.

Over the four month period, we learned about each others’ quirkiness and how each individual had physical circumstances that created limitations for certain yoga poses, even though they served as a strong foundation for another. No one was a true master. We were all students. Through the personal stories shared, we learned of how these limitations came to be and watched as we each began to conquer those limitations and came up with various modifications to safely move towards the goal pose.

I personally witnessed someone, at the age of over 50, go from barely being able to raise her arm above her shoulder due to a frozen shoulder condition to being able to fully raise her arms above her shoulder at the end of the course. I watched another teacher trainer go from only being able to reach her shins to fully reaching the soles of her feet as she began to find the openness in her hips and hamstrings to move deeper into the forward bending pose. It hit me then that your mental and physical health can truly defy your age. And it didn’t matter where you were in life. With some dedication, consistency in practice, and a little bit of patience, strengthening of your mind and body was an inevitable outcome.

This realization, was what truly liberated me from the anxiety of needing to accomplish more and hit my bucket list items before 30. As a well-liked YT instructor always likes to say, “Motion is lotion”. If you keep your body able and well through maintaining and extending the range in motion of your limbs, age is merely a number that defines the passage of time. With an able body, you can reach out and take hold of all the experiences that life has to offer at any age. If you are physically able, who’s to say you can’t climb a mountain at the age of 50. What’s the rush?

With that, soon after the teacher training course, I embarked on my own journey to become a healthier and stronger “me”. I started to research what healthy eating meant and began weaving in other forms of fitness activities in conjunction with my yoga practice. I applied the same self-discipline that was required to follow through and complete the intensive YT Teacher training program to my weight-loss journey. Today, I return to my mat 30 lbs lighter and with the mindset of knowing that life does not have to be a race against time and age. You can achieve whatever you set out to achieve at any age or stage of your life.

My self-practice has evolved a lot since then, and each time I return to the mat, I am still learning something new. This is the gift that the YT teacher training course has given me.
365 days in review, I feel younger and stronger than when I did starting the YT teacher training course. I can’t help but look back and credit the teacher training course for opening my mind and helping me embrace the coming of age.

As the saying goes, “age is just a number, life is what you make of it.”

Namaste.

Annabelle Ko is a graduate of Yoga Tree’s 2013 one month Teacher Training Intensive. She continues to teach and grow in her practice, and we are grateful to have her share her journey with us.


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