I took my first yoga class when I was fresh out of college, at a pay-what-you-like studio near my tiny apartment. I liked it and went back a few times, but it never really stuck. Life and work always seemed to get in the way of practicing regularly. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, I decided to do an online yoga class that a friend shared with me and yoga quickly became something of a lifeline for me during that challenging period. My daily yoga class became non-negotiable. I discovered teachers I loved, explored different styles of yoga, and I can honestly say that it was the most important thing for my mental and physical health.
Once studios started opening back up, I was so excited to experience yoga in person and I started attending classes at least 3 times a week, finding new teachers and studios to figure out what really resonated with me. After about a year of in-person classes, I really wanted to deepen my practice and learn more about the foundations of yoga, beyond just the physical practice. I definitely wanted to learn about alignment, anatomy, and breathwork, but was also fascinated by the history and philosophy of yoga and felt called to create a truly holistic practice. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach, but I had heard from plenty of people that doing a 200 hour teacher training would be a wonderful way to learn.
I immediately started doing my research to find a program that was right for me. A lot of the local studios near me offered Teacher Training programs that took place on the weekends, but I was craving something different. I wanted to be fully immersed, develop deep relationships, and have a truly transformative experience, so I decided to do a month-long intensive. And let me tell you, there was no shortage of options. At first I was a bit overwhelmed. But (very) luckily, I came across the Yoga, Leadership, and Permaculture Immersion through Awakened Spirit Yoga.
This Yoga Alliance Certified 200 hour teacher training was set to take place in just a few months on the stunning Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, where I had always wanted to travel! In addition to the unbelievably beautiful location, the program offered expert training in yogic anatomy, philosophy, teaching methodologies, and intelligent sequencing, with a focus on creating safe, and inclusive learning environments. But there were a number of additional elements that really piqued my interest that weren’t part of any other training programs I found.
There was a big focus on service, community, and ecology with Awakened Spirit. Not only would there be discussions on diversity, social justice, and inclusion, but the program also included engagement with the local community. Trainees would participate in local social empowerment projects, learn the foundational principles of permaculture, and co-create a community-lead reforestation project with the local Mayan community. It sounded like the perfect mix of yoga, community, education, and inspiration that I had been craving. I signed up immediately.
Now three months after completing my training, I can say with complete confidence that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Truly life changing. I came away with a deeper understanding of yoga, and of myself. I made lifelong friends. I gained confidence in my ability to use my voice and build community. I learned how to live more intentionally and more in harmony with the earth.
Plus, three organic farm-to-table vegetarian meals a day, daily yoga practice overlooking the lake and stunning volcanoes, and simple, stunning accommodations were pretty good for my mental and physical health. I came back as a new person. If you’re considering a YTT program, I can wholeheartedly recommend Awakened Spirit. You’ll thank me, but you’ll thank yourself even more.