Yoga Teacher Training Application - Laughing Lotus

Here is the application that i submitted for my yoga teacher training program at Laughing Lotus. 

What has inspired you to do your teacher training at this time? How did you find out about our program?

Becoming a yoga teacher has been on my list of long term goals and dreams for several years now, but the stars have seemed to align and I am at a wonderful moment  of transition in my life and now is the perfect time. I realized over the past year that working at a big tech company and having a job with a 6 figure salary and crazy perks wasn’t going to fulfill me. I wasn’t happy, I was going through the motions. I was living life on autopilot. The moments I can say I truly felt happy and at peace were when I was on my mat or after I took a yoga class that really inspired me. This is what I want to do, I want to help people get to that feeling and tap into the best parts of myself so I can share them with others. 

How long have you been practicing yoga and where do you usually practice?

I have take many classes at Lotus both in NYC and BK and loved them all. Never had a bad class and I love the whole vibe and all the teachers are awesome - when I started to consider YTT programs I weighed a bunch of studios and teachers that I have practiced at/with and also wanted an intensive program since that’s how I learn best. Lotus fit the bill in all the ways I am looking for- a combination of an awesome flow and also learning more about the spiritual side of this amazing practice. I turn 30 and hit 2.5 years sober this summer and it seems like the perfect gift to give myself to start my next chapter.

I started at 17 when I was pretty stressed out at the end of high school and thought that it would give me a little peace but I really got into it in 2014 after I got injured and herniated         2 discs. Yoga was one of the only things that gave me relief and now I want to learn more about it so I can share that healing with others.

I have a home practice but have also taken classes at many studios in NYC, some of my favorites include:

Laughing Lotus!!! - Honestly my fave studio in the city which is why I would like to do my teacher training here

  • Daya Yoga
  • Good Yoga (Bushwick and Greenpoint)
  • Y7
  • Modo
  • Yogaworks
  • Sky Ting
  • The Bhakti Center
  • Stanton Street Yoga
  •  I attended Wanderlust Stratton last summer and took classes with some amazing teacher who also inspired me to do YTT - Eoin Finn and Nikki Vilella.

What is the meaning of the Surya Namaskar and why do we practice it?

This is the sun salutation practice - we practice this not only to wake up every part of the body but to access a moving meditation while worshipping the sun - the giver of all life!

Patanjali says the asana must be both alert and relaxed. Why do you think this is so?

I am excited to learn more about this, but my interpretation of this is that we need to soften into life and be ready for things that come our way and handle them with ease. You can be aware and active in     the present moment but you need to be flexible to inevitable change that is going to occur. The postures we practice cultivate awareness, relaxation and concentration all in balance with each other. 

What is Sanskrit and why do we still use it?

In the attempt to adopt and not appropriate this rich and wonderful culture and practice, The use of Sanskrit pays respect to the ancient yogic tradition that was passed down from person to person over generations. This also acknowledges that I am learning something new, a student of a new culture that is not my own. I think it is humbling and adds respect to the practice! Also using the original Sanskrit names for yoga poses provides clarity of language since we have translated things to mean slightly different things in the English variations. Sanskrit words and sounds are also said to stimulate the chakras and create balance in our bodies and spirits when we hear them and that just sounds groovy. 

Our injuries are often our greatest teachers. Explain how this is true for you.

This question resonates with me more than I would like it to as injury is a huge part of what has led me to yoga and teacher training. 

In May 2014 I was helping my ex move a bookshelf out of a uhaul and slipped and fell with the weight of the shelf and my own (not light) body almost 4 full feet right into the street.

I injured my wrist as well as herniated 2 discs in my low right back. L4/L5 on the R.

I was in level 8-10 pain for a long time and I went to lots and LOTS of doctors: pain management tried to pump me full of opioids, orthopedists and DOs gave me shots of cortisone and trigger point injections and SI joint injections and other anti inflammatories that cost a ton and didn’t even help. Sports medicine doctors and physical therapists poked and prodded me as I bent and strengthened and after 2 years of continuous treatment it was only a little better. As a last resort I went to 2 surgeons and they both said I was not a candidate for surgery- that it wouldn’t help. 

I was at my wits end - so helpless and frustrated and not really managing my pain in a good way ( I was drinking a lot to self medicate and that was causing many other problems and not helping my pain.) 

Then a massive shift happened in my life - I decided to get sober, found acupuncture, started with a personal trainer, and began doing almost daily yoga to stretch and move my body and hips - all 2.5 years post injury. 

My acupuncturist and I came up with a plan that worked for me and as I long as I kept moving and got periodic needle treatments I could manage my pain naturally and without opioids.

It works. If I move and if I focus and put intention and breath in my movements - I get the greatest relief.

This injury has taught me so much. About my self, my body the power of natural healing, relief through patience and hard work and perseverance. It taught me not every solution is good for everyone. All bodies have a personal journey and what works for one may not for another. This injury is teaching me every day the need to slow down and shake off my ego because I have limits that I need to honor and work within. 

I would love to help others learn how to work with their injuries and chronic pain and find a yoga practice that works for them.

How does your yoga practice connect you with Spirit or the Divine? Please explain.

Yoga and meditation have opened up spirituality into my life in a way that I never really could have imagined.

I got sober 2.5 years ago and I desperately needed something to believe in. Whatever my “higher power” is - O was able to tap into this spirit most while doing the moving meditation of yoga and also just sitting and breathing with a mantra.

It was mostly activity that gave me the greatest peace of mind and clarity and grounded ,e and made me really have some perspective on myself and my life. That can happen when you’re upside down. 🙂 I struggled with the traditional forms of christian religion that I was raised on and that sadly pervades the AA literature and dogma. As I grow more and more into myself — drawing from all I have learned so far and more importantly what I do not know. There is something greater out there connecting us all. When I breathe and move together with other humans I feel it. When I tap into a song or I can’t help but dance to the music because something INSIDE is moving through me- I know it's there. When I achieve the impossible crow pose or staying sober every day in New York city at 29 years old - I FEEL IT and there is no denying it. 

The more I learn about yoga, the ancient eastern religions, the power of meditation the more curious I am of what I can tap into and how I can grow more and continue to expand my mind, body and consciousness. 

Also very importantly - yoga has made me want to serve others by helping them access this peace and healing. It has made me want to share my gifts in a real tangible way and give myself to others and that sort of service seems pretty close to divine as I can imagine. I feel lucky to be a part of it.

Why is gratitude important and how do you express and share it in your daily life?

I love this question. Gratitude is an attitude. It is a way of looking at the world and it quite possibly has changed my life too. I flipped the way I was looking at the world from - "life is hard and tough and stressful and there are all these things I don’t have: promotions, relationships, success" — to: I have SO MUCH - look at how much I DO have and how much I can now give away to others. I express gratitude every day in many forms - from simple gratitude lists to calling up my family and thanking them daily for being there for me and helping make me the person I am now.

I try to share my great fortune with others and show gratitude for the universe. I stop to give tourists directions, homeless people food and money, the blind cross busy streets and the elderly carry heavy bags. I always offer my seat - because I am LUCKY and I have strong legs and am privileged to stand. I try and inspire people around me to have this attitude of gratitude as well as just flip it around when things feel bleak and dark. There is always a silver lining, there is always something to be grateful for. This body, this breath, this work of service to others, this beautiful world, and sunshine and babies and kittens and new adventures and nature and community and family. 

What would it mean to get in touch with the part(s) of yourself that are often neglected?

We’re all holding on to something: pain, fear, a relationship, some idea or experience from our past that influencers us and maybe traumatized us that can hold us back from expansion and growth. I think getting in touch with those more difficult emotions and processing and working through them, is how you can let it go and then process them to move past them. I think it also means finding those hard to reach spots in your body and muscles and breathing into all the spaces that hold tension and stress - sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves and yoga forces us to slow down, focus and take a closer look.

The most unpleasant pose for me is ______. Contemplate where the difficulty comes from and share.

The most unpleasant pose for me is probably Anjaneyasana or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. This has 90% to do with actual pain in my low back, psoas, hips and knees. The difficulty is mostly physical but I hoping some of it is mental so that I can overcome it. I know the hips hold a lot of emotional energy and pain so I think it has a lot to do with trusting myself, others and my own body to not fail me as I deal with chronic pain. Hoping to overcome this and more through this practice and teaching training. 

What are some of the qualities that you admire in your favorite teachers?

  • Spiritual
  • Patient
  • Great understanding of alignment 
  • Hands-on
  • Very into modifications

What has your yoga practice taught you about you?

Yoga has shown me some of my strengths: perseverance, spiritual curiosity, openess to learn new things, creativity, fluidity, a desire to give back and share my abundance and gifts. 

Yoga has also shown me my many weaknesses that I want to work on:

Impatience: I am always expecting things to be faster and happened on my time -m yoga forces me to be IN my body and stay present so I can practice patience. Things happen in their own time.

Being hard on myself: Yoga has shown me that I beat myself up when I let myself down. Yoga is showing me to be kinder to myself and that showing up to my may and for myself first is really the best form of self care and therefor care of others. 

Yoga also showed me that every journey is different and that modifications are not only necessary for many but really better because you are finding what works for your body and your practice. I think that yoga has given me more of this self awareness and self confidence. 

Yoga is also teaching me that repetition is magic- practice makes your version of perfect a reality and that your mat is always there for you even when you aren’t always there for yourself. 

Keep coming back, it works.

The best teachers are the best students. How willing are you to be the student?

I am so excited to be a student. I am so willing to learn! The more I learn the more I realize how little I know and how much more there is to learn. I feel that I am not the person today that I was 5 years and I certainly hope I’ll be different in a great way in 5 more. As I learn and evolve I want to learn and explore new interests as they arise and come into my sphere of understanding. I also plan to learn from my students as much as they learn from me.

What inspires you to roll out your mat? Has it changed since you began your practice?

It has changed for sure - it used to be more about exercise for me or recovering from other exercise. Deep stretching so to speak. Now it has taken on a deeper meaning for me. When I roll out my mat - no matter what is going on or where I am I can find peace and some relief from whatever life might be throwing at me. It has become a happy place where I am safe to be my full self when at times I feel I have to censor and hide myself. Now rolling out my mat is an invitation for self care and introspection and moving meditation to bring calm to my life. 

What does it mean to be flexible? Please explain.

It means to be able to bend and not break when life doesn’t go as planned or anticipated.

It means laughing it off when you fail at a handstand or a crow.

It means saying the serenity prayer and knowing there is wisdom in understanding what you cannot change.

It means to let life happen and to be able to react gracefully no matter what.

It means being open to new ideas you may not agree with or be comfortable with.

It means compromise and embracing an alternative approach.

It means fluidity not rigidity.

What is Savasana and why do we practice it at the end of class?

Savasana is a restorative active resting post where we scan the body for tension to be able to fully relax and then can reflect inward. 

It honors the practice and all the movement and work you have done and allows it to sink in so you can go deeper into yourself.

It connects you back with the earth and your breath so you can focus on remaining present in your body as you leave the practice space and rejoin the world. 

 

Namaste.

 

I start my training on July 8th, 2018 and will be done and 200 hour Yoga Alliance Certified by August 3rd! So excited for this journey. <3