This blog is written by Jenna Buckley. She graduated Spira’s teacher training in 2015.
I’m one of those people that think about doing something and then I sit on the idea for quite some time and in this case, a couple years. I knew I loved practicing yoga with all my being but would I love teaching it or would it be forever different for me? And the answer after getting my 200hr teaching certification was yes; it is now forever different for me mentally, physically, and spiritually in only the best of ways.
I stumbled upon Spira a couple years ago after seeing one of my favorite teachers on the schedule. I purchased a GroupOn as a present to myself for my birthday and a friend of mine and I went to our first class at Spira. The teacher was Tara and she was wonderful, she had this sweet, soft voice, yet her class crept on me and I received a nice ass-kicking (I mean this as a compliment).
I went a couple more times and was hooked on the studio. The teachers were personable, made a point to remember my name, and did not come around and try to get me into a pose deeper or tell me I was doing something wrong. I have a long history of back pain and so I am very sensitive to someone adjusting me in a yoga class, and this was the first studio of instructors that respected my space and did not adjust me until they saw me enough times in class to know where I might have issues. They seemed to be more focused on their students having a strong practice vs. a flexible one and had this mantra of honoring your body today so you can practice again tomorrow.
At the end of every class, the teachers make an announcement about upcoming workshops and teacher training was mentioned, again and again, it would begin in just a few months and it always sold out so if I wanted in I needed to sign up. They would reiterate how it was not just about teaching but deepening your knowledge of all things yoga. I always knew I wanted to teach someday but had to really consider the timing as my husband and I had a busy work life and I had a 2 yr. old at the time. Knowing the schedule would be demanding and possibly be 6 straight weeks or something like that in a row I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I talked with Dora and she let me know the program was spread out over ~9 months and it was made for working professionals and busy families. Well, there goes that roadblock! I went home and talked with my husband and he fully supported me signing up.
I was so freaked out the first weekend as I knew nobody but there were 25 or so of us and I was thrilled and scared to be with a room full of strangers, but somehow knowing I would be forming lifetime friendships from the experience. Dora’s curriculum blew me away. It was well thought it; the reading material was vast and gave a well-rounded history of yoga including philosophy, anatomy, Ayurveda, literature, practical hands on teaching, choreography and the list could go on. This training was well beyond memorizing a sequence to teach. I found myself learning and understanding yoga from perspectives that I did not know existed. Each weekend was well organized and not a minute of time was wasted, I was ALL IN! I enjoyed my reading assignments, and the partner and group activities she guided us through were well thought out and custom made for our group.
As each teacher training weekend passed, and more and more books read and analyzed, along with practice teaching in front of our class, I found myself changing. Dora pulled me aside one day and confronted me on a nice ol’ habit of stuffing my emotions down and not communicating what I was truly feeling. She explained to me that when you are teaching yoga, you subliminally teach a way of being to your students. If you cannot be open and clear about your emotions, your students will pick up on that consciously or unconsciously. How can you expect your students to be able to breathe if you are having a tough time taking a breath? She asked me if I wanted to work through these emotions, to be able to stand clear. After talking through some things with her I felt 1,000 lbs. of bricks come off my chest and felt like I could breathe deeper for the first time in years, she truly saw me and empowered me to be true to myself and have a strong voice.
There was one particular weekend when we were reviewing the subject of samskara as it is explained in the books that we read. We were reading out quotes from our previous reading assignments of literature, spiritual text, and yoga writings and we shared relevant personal stories to help with the understanding of these philosophical ideas from the yoga tradition. As we were discussing the concept I was reminded of my own returning thoughts on the subject of letting go of my “old self” – the one that was more of a risk taker in life, making unhealthy choices, and feeling shame around past actions. When I brought this up to my teacher she told me – “I feel that letting go to you means total and absolute amnesia, a burial of old self? Letting go does not mean forgetting. You are who you are because of what you went through, now you have the choice of taking a different action because you know, deeply know, where you have been. Teach from here, in the now, but with the wisdom of the past. That is what people are going to love about you as a teacher, they will relate to you, we all go through change, we all struggle, that is real, that is humanity that is samskara.” In that moment, I not only felt I could teach, I felt peace about myself. It was a magical weekend.
I graduated teacher training being 3 months pregnant with my second child and practiced at Spira almost all the way until the birth of my daughter. The teachers gave me the tools to have a safe and mindful practice and I used all of the knowledge I learned from teacher training to honor my body so I could practice to the best of my ability throughout my pregnancy.
Since graduation I have traded in my People Magazines (ok I still like it from time to time) for books about all sorts of religion, yoga, spiritual studies and anything that feeds my soul in a deeper, more meaningful way. Finishing teacher training at Spira not only gave me the tools to teach, it gave me a greater understanding of yoga, a way of living yoga, a life enriched with the wisdom of tradition and knowledge. The world is new to me and I will forever be grateful to Dora, Brenda, Carina and the other professionals she brought in and of course my fellow students – without their support and encouragement, the experience would have been much less meaningful. We were all in it together and we became really close friends.
I am excited to dive into my 500hr studies coming up in May and one day teaching at Spira and giving back to the students as an act of gratitude to what the teachers at Spira and the Spira community have done for me.
In Gratitude –
For information about Spira’s teacher trainings click on the following links: