At 4:30pm on Friday, 8/7/2020, I clicked on the [SUBMIT] button for the very last video exam of my 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) program! When this journey first began 10 weeks prior (on 6/1/2020), and it definitely has been full of self-discoveries and life lessons! Of the countless amount of lessons I learned/re-learned, here are the Top 5 Lessons that will stay with me throughout my journey in life and self-realization:
1. LIFE IS NOT A RACE.
I have a competitive spirit. I didn’t play competitive sports growing up because I hated losing. I think that’s why I loved the performing arts so much. Of course, there is a competitive aspect in performing arts, but I’ve always felt that a performer expressing their art can not be objectively judged (which is also why I am not a big fan of awards shows for movies, music, television series, etc.). When I was a dancer in Los Angeles, I did strive to be a “better dancer than everyone else,” but when it came down to it, I danced because it made my spirit feel alive. In the beginning of the AYTT program, I found myself wanting to finish the program faster just because I saw others finishing the program in a month, a month and a half, etc. But then somewhere along the way (I think in between week 2 and week 3), I reminded myself to enjoy the journey and learn for the pure love of learning and growing instead of trying to finish before someone that started at the same time as I did.
2. DREAM BIG… AND THEN PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!
I knew I would eventually complete a 300-hour AYTT program, but I didn’t know how or when. First of all, most AYTT programs cost anywhere from $2,300 to $5,000; secondly, there was an AYTT near me that I felt was a good fit for me. While I was living in Charlotte, NC, I looked into a program in Asheville which was a little over 2 hours away as well as one in Winstom-Salem which was only slightly over an hour away. When this pandemic hit the US earlier this year and everyone went into social distancing and quarantine mode, Yoga Alliance decided to temporarily allow Registered Yoga Schools (RYS) to offer their programs virtually. So after a lot of research, I found a program that was affordable, flexible, and very unique… So I signed up on June 1st to complete my 300 hours with ULU Yoga in Thailand! I planned out my study schedule for each week, and I made sure I stuck to it with some wiggle room in case of unexpected things happened (check out all 9 blogs from the previous weeks for those “unexpected events”). I loved checking off each task and seeing myself getting closer and closer to achieving a dream of mine while learning and growing.
3. ONLY CONTROL THE THINGS THAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO CONTROL, AND LET THE REST WORK ITSELF OUT.
Like I mentioned above, there were things that happened during the last 10 weeks that I could not control. In fact, there have always been things in my life that I could not control (can I get an amen?). I used to get upset that I couldn’t control everything (like changing somebody’s mind, outcome of situations, etc.); but through this AYTT experience, I was reminded to focus on controlling myself and just leave alone the other things outside of my control. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with surrender and just putting any desire for improvement to be placed on self-improvement.
4. CHOOSE DELAYED GRATIFICATION OVER INSTANT PLEASURE.
Let’s face it, we live in a world where we expect results right away. If our Google results don’t pop up within .01 second, we get impatient. We try to find the quickest way to get things done. I admit, I’m guilty of choosing the easier and faster way of accomplishing things (like using my sewing machine over hand-sewing my face masks), but it is so good for our hearts and our souls to work hard at something that doesn’t come quickly or easy to us. James 1:4 reads, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” It takes perseverance to build character, and if we constantly choose the easy way out, we won’t grow in our authenticity. There were days that I wanted to binge-watch Netflix or just sleep in until Noon (although I don’t think I can physically sleep until Noon); but I knew that in order to finish my AYTT by August, I needed to stay on task and enjoy each moment of the training — which leads us to #5:
5. BE PRESENT.
Going through the AYTT program allowed me to be a better Yoga Teacher for the virtual classes that I’ve been teaching. In my book, “Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation,” I talked about how in order to be a good teacher, you must be a good student. I find that I’m a better teacher when I’m going through some type of learning, whether it be a certification course or reading a book on Christian discipleship, self-improvement, yoga, ayurveda, or energy science. When I’m learning, I fully there physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Lately, I’ve been reminding my yoga students that because we are bound by this thing called “Time,” we can not live in the past or the future; So if we’re constantly focusing on the past or the future — and the only place we can live in is the present — we have to ask ourselves, “Are we truly living?”
Show up. Every time. Every moment.