Musings from the Department of Yoga by Tali Koziol
When I was younger, ready to graduate high school, I didn’t yearn for that full college experience. Living in a dorm, eating in a cafeteria, college parties, none of it interested me. I stayed in Denver, went to school and worked full–time. I got good grades, learned a ton and had some fun in the process. I felt like I had a good college experience.
It wasn’t until I entered my 200 hour teacher training when I realized I hadn’t created those special life-long friendships others do in college. I felt like maybe I missed something by not living on campus or going away to school. I found something special in my fellow teaching trainees.
In a 200 hour basic yoga teacher certification program, your class becomes like a family; we often use the word tribe. It seems to me this is what a fraternity or sorority is like.
Teacher training isn’t just a class you pop into for an hour or two twice a week. In my case it was twelve weekends over seven months. We met Friday night, all day Saturday and most of Sunday, then again the following Wednesday night.
When you spend this much time with people you have to love them. You may not always like them, but you love them like you do a sister or brother. They may constantly show up late, eat food that smells gross in the studio and sweat on your mat (yes, not theirs, YOURS) but you take it in stride. You find the common ground, you build a foundation and help each other cultivate unique gifts.
When the yoga pushes back, and you find yourself questioning whether you should teach or what you’re doing there, that tribe, that family, comes to your side. They’re the ones who remind you that you can do it and you need to hear it from them, because they know what you’re going through like nobody else can ever know or understand.
So when I walked into my first meeting of my advanced training program, my 300 hour program that will span the course of a year and a half I was relieved to see a few of my “sorority sisters” from my 200 hour program there.
At that point I was no longer questioning where to place my mat or if I was getting in over my head. My sisters were there and throughout the day we shared jokes, silly faces, and had lunch together. They’re my people and with their love I feel I can do anything and I hope they feel the same.
I realize this is not the only parallel yoga training has to a university experience. This particular program I have chosen for my advanced training is intense. In a way it is very much like a master’s degree. The reading list alone is rigorous, but that’s not where the similarity ends. I am no longer a student who is told which courses to take to graduate. I am writing my own story.
This is a unique program as it is mentor-based and each individual crafts their own experience. We have five tracks to choose from ranging from philosophy to a track specializing in family and women’s yoga. Yet, those tracks seem merely suggestions. I have created my own track,Empowered Rejuvenation. I am carving my niche to help those new to yoga feel empowered while incorporating therapeutics, restorative yoga and writing. I know that my teacher, Shannon Paige, is not only the perfect teacher to help me on this path but also bringing in some amazing guest faculty.
My relationship with Shannon is also something right out of a master’s program. I am a teacher and she is a teacher, just like you would have a teaching assistant and a professor. The relationship is always evolving and yet recursive. She is a friend, she is a fellow teacher, and she is my teacher.
This recursive aspect is also true of my peers in the class: we are fellow teachers. I have taught some of them, some have taught me. The boundaries are not clear and concise as they once were. This is very cool in a way and in a way a bit intimidating. We are playing the edges of our relationships as they are consistently redefined.
I have a feeling this will be one of the most interesting aspects of this program.
I am proud and humbled to be in such an amazing program. When you’re surrounded by so many amazing people it is hard to contain the butterflies. I get chills often when I think about it. I am so grateful to have my sisters by my side, to have the opportunity to develop my unique niche, and to be in this sea of amazing peers, teachers, students and friends.
I invite you to join me throughout these eighteen months as I continue to reveal my personal process throughout the training, as well as literature reviews and interviews with my peers and teachers.
I know it’s going to be an incredible journey and I look forward to having you along for the ride.