An epic milestone happened at Mind Body Flow Yoga the weekend of May 22nd – 24th. Since then, every time I have attempted to put my fingers to keyboard to write about this journey, I am completely overcome with emotion and have had to take a step back, because I literally have had no words.
My words have been stuck somewhere between tears of joy and an overwhelming amount of gratitude. I am finally ready to share on this journey and how much this all means.
LIVE Music Vinyasa
Vocalist and guitarist
8:00 AM – 9:15 AM
In 2004, twenty-four year old me, stepped foot into a yoga studio for the first time in my life. I was anxiety-ridden and in a season in my life where I was trying to find my place in the world – mainly in terms of a career path. I felt lost, not good enough, stressed, and was plagued with anxiety in the form of sporadic panic attacks.
My first class was hard – really hard. I’m positive I never sweated that much in my entire life and even as a former dancer, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how everyone was getting their body into all these different shapes.
In final relaxation pose (you know – the pose everyone can’t wait for – where you lay on your back for a few minutes at the end of class with your eyes closed), while laying in a pool of my own sweat, I cried.
I felt such a release. For the first time, I felt like a weight had been lifted. I felt stress roll away. I felt like the breath in my lungs flowed without being stifled from panic.
For the first time in years, I didn’t feel anxious. I felt ease and peace that I was almost convinced would never return to me. I felt God speak to me at that moment and tell me that He is with me and that I have nothing to fear – that my anxiety is all fear-based and that I need to surrender it to Him.
After that first class, I was hooked. I attended class almost daily and as the months rolled on, I had the blessing of a multitude of teachers who poured into me – much like I did in my years as a dancer. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. They encouraged me. They empowered me to drop my self-doubt, worry, and fear. I gained a sense of self-worth, confidence, focus, clarity, and deepened faith. My anxiety and panic attacks faded away and I wanted to shout from the rooftops how amazing this physical and meditative work was. I wanted to shout and share this work with everyone I knew. I wanted them to feel as good as I did.
It was about six months into taking class regularly that it hit me like a ton of bricks (while laying in final relaxation pose at the end of class) – I wanted to do what my teachers were doing. I wanted to teach. I wanted to help others find joy, peace, clarity, and emotional well-being – just as I had, from mindful movement, slowing down, and having a positive outlet in the midst of life’s everyday stresses. I wanted to help empower others and help others overcome stress, doubt, anxiety, and fear. Stated simply, I wanted to inspire others to be the greatest version of themselves.
This is when God placed the mission and assignment on my heart to become a teacher and help minister into the lives and hearts of others. And so, I did. Despite my fear and doubt – I did it. After becoming certified to teach and courageously leaving my 9-5 career at the age of 29 to teach full-time, God then placed the mission and assignment on my heart to open my own studio. Talk about fear and doubt. Me? Was I good enough? Did I have what it takes to open and operate a business? It felt like such a far-fetched dream and for years, I dismissed it as such. Until the moment came where despite my fear and doubt – I finally went for it and opened my own studio in March of 2012, at the age of 31.
Shortly before opening, my husband asked me – what are some of your goals, hopes, and dreams for the studio? I immediately and without hesitation said, “I absolutely want to run a yoga teacher training program and help mentor those who aspire to teach and/or deepen their knowledge, confidence, and self-awareness. Just as my teachers over the years have inspired me and have helped me get to this point of seeing my dream come to fruition – I want to do the same for others. If I can accomplish this, I will feel like I have truly done my part.” That was in 2012.
Fast forward to 2019 – in October, this goal, hope, and dream finally became a reality, as a group of amazing human beings set out on a journey, under me and Derek Waddy’s guidance, to become certified yoga teachers. Mind Body Flow Yoga was finally running its first-ever yoga teacher training program. To say that this under-taking was my baby is an understatement. It is the long-held dream and goal that I have wanted to bring to pass for Mind Body Flow Yoga from day one and it was finally happening! Twenty-one beautiful souls signed up to take on the task of a 200-hour yoga teacher training program, which required a total of six long weekends – once a month – Friday – Sunday. During teacher training weekends, teacher trainees would leave their lives and families for hours on end, in pursuit of their goal. Teacher training is a massive commitment and undertaking. It’s no joke. The road to certification is intense and life-changing. It requires tenacity and deep introspection.
As the months rolled on, I watched each and every one of the teacher trainees transform in powerful ways. We cried together, laughed together, and worked through and past fear and doubt. It was remarkable to watch them grow and shine.
Then, the 6th and final month of teacher training arrived – March. The time had come for the teacher trainees to graduate. And along with this time, came COVID-19. The last scheduled weekend of teacher training was March 20th – 22nd, and the studio was government-mandated to close just days prior, on March 16th. No one ever could have imagined or seen this coming when we embarked on this journey back in October. When COVID-19 hit and we were forced to close the studio, we postponed the final weekend of training – not realizing (back in March) that our closure would be as long-term as it has been.
In early May, the decision was made to bring the last weekend of teacher training to completion virtually, given the circumstances and our sustained closure. That was very bittersweet for me and the teacher trainees as well, as this isn’t the way any of us saw this program coming to an end. But, we all were committed to persevering and finishing strong.
Well, on the weekend of May 22nd – 24th, the teacher trainees did just that – they persevered and they finished strong. A journey that was supposed to be six months long, was extended to eight months with the circumstances, and they crossed the finish line stronger than ever.
Their final assignment was to put on a donation-based community class, as their graduation event and to invite their friends and family to take part. To witness this final event come together from start to finish, was awe-inspiring. They not only delivered an amazing virtual class via Zoom, but they raised over $2,500 in 24 hours for Journey’s End – an amazing organization that they chose as a group to raise funds for. Incredible!! During this special class, I had several flashbacks in my mind of them in practice teaching sessions during training weekends. And now, there they were – teaching a LIVE class!
As I presented each of the graduates with their certificates virtually and shared a few words with them all individually, I cried such tears of joy. I couldn’t be more proud of them all. They all inspire me more than they will ever know and my heart is forever full of thanks and gratitude for having shared this experience with each one of them. My only wish is that I could have wrapped my arms around each one of them and hugged them tightly. But, that day will come.
This journey is so much deeper than holding a teacher training program at my studio. It’s so much deeper than a long-held vision and dream of mine being realized. This journey is a testament to the 24-year old version of myself who was so utterly inspired by my teachers and wanted to teach, mentor, and inspire others – just like they did for me. And now, 16 years later, at the age of 40, I have done that for a group of amazing human beings.
To bear witness to their transformation and accomplishment of becoming certified yoga teachers – is simply incredible. To know that I played even a small part in their journey – is so very humbling and literally brings me to tears every time I think about it, and is why it’s been a challenge to put my fingers to keyboard and type (it’s hard to type when you are literally boo-hoo crying. Lol). This journey means and symbolizes so very much. It’s everything I sought out to do with my studio coming full-circle. The faces of each graduate are forever etched in my heart. I will cherish this experience for always and am excited for the bright future and journeys for each of the graduates.
An enormous thanks to my husband, Magezi, to co-facilitator, Derek Waddy, to my Mind Body Flow Yoga team, to the Mind Body Flow Yoga student community, and to my family and friends – your unwavering love, support, and encouragement through this journey is truly everything. None of it would be possible without you.
Congratulations to the Mind Body Flow Yoga teacher training graduates!!! I hope you are as proud of yourself and your accomplishment as I am of you. I love each and every one of you so much. My hope and prayer are that you (and everyone reading this) go forward courageously into your life – knowing that you (yes, you) have the ability to impact your life and the lives of others in a great and amazing way. And may you (and everyone reading this) never give up on your dreams. This is just the beginning. Carry and live the work. Keep soaring! Keep shining! God’s blessings to you all.