200 Hours: A Yoga Teacher Journey Just Beginning

The last post I put up on this blog was when I started a 6 week self-study, called Empowerment and Beyond.  The author and facilitator of this self-study is the owner of the yoga studio I began to call my second home after moving to Towson, MD in August, Sid McNairy of Sid Yoga.  One of the instructors who’s class I took regularly, Gabby, messaged me on Facebook and encouraged me to consider doing the self-study.  After some deep thought about the things I really needed in my life, I decided to go for it.  Those 6 weeks taught me about standing in my foundation, giving up control, awakening the person I truly am, going with the flow and so, so much more.  The shifts I made in my life over those 6 weeks were immense.  I truly believed that nothing would ever change my life the way that program did.  I was wrong.

About a month and a half after I last posted, I was told about an opportunity to submit a video at an event the studio was having called “Living the Dream”.  The video needed to be about my  11084295_10100721556352418_3181494906246554483_n  dream of becoming a yoga teacher & would be posted to social media and voted on, in order to win a scholarship for a 200 hour yoga teacher training at Sid Yoga, with Sid.  I had been talking about wanting to become certified for almost a year, but kept pushing it off due to expenses and “what-ifs”.  Thanks to the encouragement of some of the amazing teachers at the studio, as well as help & support from family and friends I decided to go for it.  The event was a full day yoga immersion with classes and goal setting workshops, surrounded by the amazing People of Sid Yoga.  My video was posted and within 24 hours I received notification that I had won the scholarship (by the way, this all still seems immensely surreal to me).

“Now is your time to step up to the next level and begin your teaching! Get ready to go, this will be an awesome beginning to a powerful life.  Congratulations on being accepted to the 200 hour Sid Yoga Teacher Training program for Spring 2015.  You have been accepted to a program that will allow you to unfold and develop your true authentic teaching. Know this is a forever growing process and you are going to be a huge part of the community so get ready to go beyond where you think you are. This is truly a great opportunity to be empowered and empower others to reach new heights in the world.  We look forward to helping each of you establish a strong power within. Get ready for an amazing ride!”

That was the beginning of the email that began a life changing process for me. Amazing ride was an understatement.  200 hours: 10 weeks total, 7 weekend intensives, a second 6 week self-study, many sweaty classes, amazing lessons from awesome Sid Yoga teachers on fact vs. story, assisting, the art of connection, intuition, yoga philosophy, anatomy, nutrition, breath work, meditation – and, of course, endless hours of learning to teach a class – and not just teach a class, but to touch the lives of the people on their mats while teaching.  Please note, while this paragraph touches on everything I’ve learned … it doesn’t come close to doing this program10405546_10100763447791638_5207231932126493956_n or these topics justice.  

To be honest, there were a few weekends I showed up, felt tired, felt a little lost and every now and again a little sad that there were things I was “missing out on”.  The amazing power of getting clear, and surrounding myself with people who truly cared and supported me, helped me snap out of those moments and continue in my growth of finding the “strong power within” promised in that email. Every weekend proved to be an amazing ride.  Every weekend raised me up to a new level of me.  I left, every weekend, thinking there was no way the next weekend could top the last, and every weekend I was wrong.  I learned a lot of really important things – most of which weren’t out of books, but instead from experience and questioning those experiences.

My second day of teacher training, a passage was read at the end of class.  The passage was all about resentments and how “when we allow resentments to brew and fester, we send negative, mean, hurtful, spiteful energy to others”.  It read, “Remember, when we harbor hate, jealousy, or rage, we connect to others in ways that hurt us all.  Let’s set others free.  Let’s release our resentments.  Along the way, we’ll set ourselves and our hearts free, too” (Melody Beattle- Journey to the Heart).  I remember thinking to myself, “This is it – this is my time to let go of everything holding me12915_642958742503920_2441097372742970637_n back.  This is my time to let go of resentments towards myself, of resentments towards others – and just start over.  THIS is my time”.   During my 200 hours, every weekend, I did everything I could to grow out of resentment.  When I felt it, I acknowledged it and spoke freely about it – then Sid would ask me questions and encourage me think about it from other perspectives until I was clear from it.  He encouraged me to release the feelings of “I’m wrong for thinking this way” or “Others are wrong for acting this way”, and just accept whatever it was and continue on from it.  As frustrating as it could get sometimes, it was the most freeing experience I had ever been through.  To be able to say, out loud, how I felt and not be judged for it – but, instead, encouraged to grow from it … THAT’S what this training was all about. 

I’ve fought an inner battle of “am I good enough” for a large portion of my life.  Instead of being satisfied with an accomplishment I’ve made, I’ve always questioned if they were good enough and if I could do anything to make it better.  This training brought me to a place that helped me realize that everything I have done was supposed to happen, however it happened – and that everything I want to do, I can will to happen.  It helped me realize that I AM GOOD ENOUGH for whatever it is I want to be good enough for.  If I sent my mind to making something happen, if I put something into the Universe, it will happen.  I am good enough.  This training taught me self-love.  It taught me the importance of loving who I am, and taking care of myself so that I can spread that same energy to everyone else around me.  If I believe I am good enough, I can help others see that THEY are good enough.  I can help change people’s lives by helping them see their true potential.  I can do all of that by getting them to their mat and relating their practice to their lives.  THAT is what this training was all about.

I could go on for days – weeks – months – probably years about this training, but I’ll spare anyone who’s made it this far.  This training has changed my life … and there’s only more to come.  Need your life changed?  Consider this.

I’d like to end this entry the way we ended each of our training sessions (and the way I end all of my days now)- with gratitude.   

  • Thank you so much to Sid for the amazing space you have given us to practice and learn in every day.  Thank you for taking time out to teach us all of the amazing lessons we have learned over the last 10 weeks.  Thank you for showing me how to open my mind and learn from my past, in order to grow for my present and future.  Thank you for believing in me and seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself.  Thank you for believing I was good enough, and teaching me to see it in myself.  Know that everything you have shared with me has landed and will come with me everywhere I go.  Your book, your classes, your lessons, your words and your energy have changed my life in a way I never thought possible.  Thank you for being you.
  • Thank you to Liz and Gabby who both encouraged me to go for things that I probably would never have done on my own, from Empowerment & Beyond to Teacher Training.  I have admired the both of you since I started coming to classes at the studio back in September, but I had no idea how you would both change my life.  I can’t thank you both enough for your motivating and inspiring classes, the words you have shared with me, and your endless encouragement. Gabby, Empowerment & Beyond wasn’t even a thought in my mind before you reached out to me on Facebook.  I didn’t think I was in a place in my life to do it, but you did.  That recommendation has taken me on a path that I didn’t even know could exist for me, and I feel so blessed to have met you.  Liz, to know that I now have the ability to learn more from you as a mentor is even more of a surreal feeling than I can describe.  You were the one who told me about the video entry for Living the Dream, and if it weren’t for that I probably never would have gone for it.  I am so glad that I get to learn more from you, and I can’t wait to see what is to come.
  • To all of the additional teachers who came in and hosted workshops and spent their weekends with our teacher training group, know that each and every one of you holds a special place in my heart.  Diana, your energy, smile and laugh are infectious – and I am so grateful we got to spend so much time with you over training.  I will never forget to “fully commit, or get out” because of you – and hopefully my assists are great because of it :).  Jackie, you are the queen of “tell it like it is” and being real.  I admire you, so much for that and I am so grateful for all of your advice throughout training (on life, and training).  David, my quest to end the banana back truly appreciates your anatomy weekend 🙂 – thank you so much for everything you brought to us!!  Crystal, I really appreciate the time you spent with us not only for philosophy weekend, but also in regards to nutrition.  I am so grateful for your words, your kindness and your understanding and your ability to help me grow in ways that I have been stuck for a long time.
  • I’m so grateful for all of the other teacher trainee programs we intersected with – Phase 2, and 300 hr.  Getting to know each of you was a blessing and I’m loving following all of your journeys!
  • To my fellow teacher trainees, Nate, Lisa, Basirah, Emily, Anna and Angela (we love you).  Each and every one of you brought something amazing to our group, and I have learned something from all of you throughout these last 10 weeks together.  I am a firm believer that we were all placed together for a reason, and I can’t wait to see where this takes all of you (I know for sure I’ll be visiting Kentucky and California sometime in the not so distant future).   The endless laughs from this group made it so easy to be around you every weekend – between awkward assist learning, crow-time go-time (Emily, you better copyright that haha), endless expressions of food cravings (Nate & Lisa),  Tinkerbell moments (Anna), and so many more moments – I am so grateful for all of you.  Thank you all for being you, and accepting me – this training wouldn’t have been the same without all of you.
  • To my amazing friends, (especially my beautiful big sister, Kate) thank you for understanding how important this was to me and accepting me missing out on some big things so I could complete this.  I’m so, amazingly lucky to have friends, who are more like family, like you in my life and please know I will make it up to you :).
  • To my family, immediate and extended, who were an endless support system throughout all of training – I’m not sure there are appropriate words I can use to express my gratitude for the actions and kind words you have shared with me during this training.  My love for my family grows more each and every day because of all of you ❤ .

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More to come as my journey continues…

This is my life… In progress.







5 Life Lessons Learned from Yoga – A Reflection On 2014

For those of you who know me well, you know I’ve been on a yoga journey for exactly one year.  At the start of 2014 I decided to start teaching myself yoga with the use of some iPhone / iPad apps (Yoga Studio is STILL my favorite).  Once I got comfortable with the basic stuff I started taking classes, which ultimately led to my fascination with hot yoga.  While my practice hasn’t been 100% consistent, I’m proud of the journey I’ve taken (and where it’s taking me) and extremely grateful for the things it has taught me.  Yoga, for me, turned from “an additional workout” to a way of life.  I found myself consistently thinking about the passages read in certain classes, or the advice given by instructors and not only applying to them to what I was learning in classes, but also to my life.  These are some of the greatest points I have applied to both my practice AND my life, that I thought I’d share with you today:

v3121) “Send your breath to the struggle”:

In yoga, we are consistently learning new asanas that may be a little difficult for our body to get into. Naturally, when that happens, we tend to hold our breath and focus on the struggle, instead of focusing on our breath and allowing our body to release into whatever pose our body is taking.  By focusing on our breath, you can actually send your breath to the area of struggle and a release will eventually happen.  Focusing on the breath allows our bodies to relax, which in turn allows our bodies to trust us and fall deeper into the asana.

Life Lesson:  We all deal with daily struggles.  Every one of us deals with something different and we all deal with them in a different way.  Send your breath to the struggle.  By focusing on your breath when things are going wrong, we can help adjust our mindset and refocus.   This year I have gone through so many personal struggles, and I haven’t always been the best at taking a deep breath and refocusing – but, this is something I’m working on.  If I can do it in class, why not apply it to life?

2) “Respect where you are today”:

In yoga, some days your body will bend and twist in ways you never thought possible – and other days, those bends and twists will seem impossible.  Instead of getting angry and frustrated, respect where your body is – live in the moment – and remind yourself that tomorrow is another day.

Life Lesson: Some days you wake up on top of the world, and some days you wake up and feel like the world is attacking you.  We’ve all been there.  Nothing is going right, you’re wondering where bad karma is coming from and you get frustrated.  Think about all of the bad moments in your past, how you’ve gotten through each and every one of them, and are here today – in this moment. Instead of letting it completely ruin your day, work as hard as you can, know that you did, respect where you are and know that tomorrow is another day.

3) “Sometimes, you just have to laugh at yourself”:laugh

This little tid bit brings me back to me days at Yogi Power Yoga in Sewell (shout out to all the 5:30 am yogis!).  This was the place I experienced my first hot yoga classes, and fell in love with it.  There were PLENTY of days where my warrior was NOT so strong… my tree branches were totally “Swaying in the wind”, or my crow was a total faceplant … and I would giggle it out.  Instead of being reprimanded, my laughs were embraced.  I didn’t let the fact that the pose I could do so well yesterday, which was a COMPLETE and epic failure today, get to me in a negative way.  I would say “touche body, touche” and try again – and laugh some more.  Since then if I’m in class and my balance is way off or my flow is completely messed up – I laugh it out, I smile, and I move on.  IT’S OKAY TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF.

Life Lesson: Short & sweet – We all do dumb things every now and again, but what’s the beauty of life if we can all laugh at ourselves and share our hilarity with the people we love the most?  I thank God every day for that AM crew at Yogi Power, and all the amazing instructors, who taught me it was okay to laugh at myself.  I embrace that now – in every aspect of my life.

4) “If you feel tension, let it go”:

Often in classes you’ll be reaching for your toes, or headed into some other asana, and your neck or your shoulders, or something else tenses up.  Good instructors will always make it a point to tell you to relax your shoulders and relax your neck and find the tensions and just let them go.  I used to find myself thinking (and still do sometimes)… “How does one just “let it go”?  If I knew how to stop feeling this terrible tightness in my body, obviously I would do it!” – But then, with some focused breathing and deepening into my practice, it happens.  Maybe not all at once, and maybe not the first time around, but eventually it happens.  When it happens, it’s one of the best feelings ever.   You drop your shoulders, you find your drishti (focal point), and your body will allow the tensions to release.

Life Lesson: Tension is caused by SO MANY ASPECTS of our every day lives – relationships, money, work, health, etc.  While it’s not always easy to “let go” of all of those things, it is easy -and beneficial- to find your (metaphorically speaking here) drishti and release the tensions.  So often we spend so much time worrying about things that are toxic in our life, instead of focusing on the positive things.  By “letting go” of the negative things in your life – the tensions – you are able to focus on the good and grow from those moments.

Last, but certainly not least…

5) “Never compare yourself to the people around you”:

This has taken me a REALLY long time to learn – and, at times, I find myself having to remind ..well, myself.. not to do this.  I have been to so many amazing studios with so many amazing instructors (a lot of which I will list below in case anyone is looking for great yoga classes in Jersey / MD) who have driven this point home over and over again.  Your practice is yours, and their practice is theirs.  What they do should have no bearing on what you’re doing – unless, of course, it’s for inspirational and motivational purposes.  The person next to you may be able to bend and twist and invert – maybe they can do all three at once – and maybe you can’t … YET.  Respect your practice, respect your journey – and yes, recognize theirs – but, never compare.

Life Lesson: I mean, I’m pretty sure this one is self explanatory, but here it is.  In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You”.   Compare yourself to no one but yourself.  They are them, you are you.  EMBRACE YOU.  Be proud of who you are, be proud of where you are, set goals and go for them – and be proud when you accomplish them.  Use other people as inspiration and motivation to get to where you want to be, but NEVER get down on yourself because you’re not where someone else is in life.  Your journey is your own.  Respect your journey!

My Journey So Far:


In Jersey or Maryland and feeling like you need some yoga therapy in your life??  Here are some amazing places to go:

Central Jersey:

(I have taken Sam’s class multiple times and LOVE it!!)

South Jersey:

(I never had a bad instructor here – ever … Lynette(now in FL), Shannon, Marisa, Lindsey, and Piera)

South Jersey / Philly:

(Justin Reilly’s classes are AMAZING if you’re looking for a challenge and to grow!!)


(Ali’s class brought me back to my practice when I moved here – love her!!  Sid and Sid IV’s classes are both so awesome and challenging!  Ken, Gabby and Liz and Nilvis also rock as instructors

… so, basically, I haven’t taken a bad class here – ever.)

This is my life… In Progress,

Happy New Year Everyone!!