10 years ago today: How Positive Encouragement changed my life
22 September 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
It’s an important month for me, September 2021. 10 Years today was when I began on my journey of becoming a Yoga Teacher, in a beautiful jungle yoga resort in Costa Rica. This is not a story of what I discovered in the training, or how much I was inspired to be a teacher – it is a story of friendship and the power of positive encouragement. How we put all the stories aside and lift each other up.
Rewind to 2010, I was working full time at Anamaya, a then new retreat center nestled in the jungle up on a hill overlooking the pacific ocean. I had already lived in this dreamy little beach town, Montezuma, for two years. I was in love, going to yoga at the local studio, dancing salsa every night, and I felt kind of fulfilled and very much living in the moment. The tourist industry is what I was educated for, and I loved working to take care of all the guests coming to our retreat, inspired to meet all these amazing yoga teachers from all around the world and take classes with them. But I never thought I would become a yoga teacher myself.
The center was offering immersive Yoga Teacher trainings at the time, and as staff we were able to participate. I loved yoga and was curious to ‘deepen’ my practice so I signed up. I thought it would just be lots of yoga and listening to lectures and doing some workshops, so I was terrified that on the first day we were front and center teaching a Sun Salutation! Most other students were really serious about becoming yoga teachers, and some already had training under their belt or were sports instructors, so it came easy to them. I had no idea what to say, even though I had practiced Sun Salutations for years. Later that day, a fellow student who was also a gymnast said to me ‘It’s easy, just close your eyes and visualise it, step by step, go through the sequence in your mind and imagine yourself talking someone else through it’. I did, and sure enough, suddenly it was clear to me how to instruct a Sun Salutation.
I was blessed to have spent 5 weeks together with these strong, talented and inspiring yogis. Through their openness and courage, I found my own voice as a teacher. One evening was a turning point for me, when a group discussion about Yoga Sutras turned into an intimate sharing session. My friends were so honest and open about their traumas and past that they were dealing with, and I said to myself no way am I going to share my past, this is just not the moment. I had very rarely explained it to others, and that’s a story for another time. But in the end, I did talk about it. No one judged or asked questions, just listened. This released something in me, like a caged bird, and I was no longer shy to be in front of these people and teach.
Almost every day we had moments of practice teaching, and I started to get really excited about it. I would close my eyes and see sequences, and out of nowhere it became natural to me. I still did not have any plans of becoming a teacher, but in the end, after my final exam my dear teacher Jacqueline took me aside and told me ‘You were meant to do this, find a way to start right away even if it’s just a class a week’. I said, sure, but still didn’t really think I would.
Here my friend Leah came into the picture, we worked together and she had also done her training some time before and was fully into teaching already. She was like a firecracker, so ambitious and fearless, which is a perfect fit to have as a friend when you are dreamy and a bit floaty like me! She literally forced me to contact Dagmar, at the local yoga studio and ask her to teach a donation based class every week. She also put me onto the teaching schedule at Anamaya without really asking, she believed in me and wasn’t going to let me off the hook. I love my pushy friends, I have quite a few of them (you know who you are :)).
So I started teaching, and I loved every second of it. Visualizing a practice, doing it, teaching it, it became a ritual. Creating classes which had a balance of movement, breathing and meditation became like an art to me. A year later, Dagmar at Montezuma Yoga had hired me full time as a teacher and studio manager. So many friends from the community had encouraged me and loved coming to class, those years were some of the most beautiful of my life, they nourished me. Dagmar trusted me since the beginning, always giving me the right feedback even if it was hard, genuinely enjoying my yoga classes and always believing in me. We need such people around us, I think.
I often feel an immense sense of gratitude to the women and men who had uplifted me in my life, who encouraged me. Honestly, without them, I wouldn’t have gotten very far. Most great stories I remember were spent with an amazing sassy friend. We need each other, there is no time for distorted competition or cattiness. I have been and am still lucky and I hope to offer the same support to others in my lifetime. I keep on crossing paths with people who are generous and inspiring, and I remember each and every one of you. Never underestimate the impact you make when you are just being you, and take a moment to lift someone else up.