Updated: Apr 5
My 200hr-Yoga Teacher Training Experience, 7 Lessons, and How I Became GoldenYogiMaggs.
Memories are funny, no matter how deep you dig into one, there’s details you miss or foreshadows to who you have become now. Either way, I dug as deep as I could for this one, only to find out it was the manifestation of a lifetime.
It all started when I moved to Charlotte, to attend UNC Charlotte for a semester. Moving to Charlotte, I already had fallen so in love with Yoga that my intention was to also get my 200-hour yoga certification so I could teach others what I fell in love with. My mom is a teacher and I always thought to myself that I would never become one, especially teaching for a school. Well, little did I know that I already had the qualities and skills of a teacher, but they weren't meant to be used in an 8am-3pm school setting. Instead, I could lead in another way; teach what I’m most passionate about. I realized teaching was the correct route when I would make my own flows at home or actively pay attention to how other yoga teachers would instruct and create add-ons or remember their sequences in my head.
Before fully moving, I found Gotta Yoga Studio by the university, now called—Tejas Yoga Lab. I had tried other studios, but this was my best choice because it aligned with my schedule and its ambiance was something magical. They had two studio spaces, and one was the Sun room, in which as I reminisce now, really made the decision for me. It was a huge space with two columns, soft-glow yellow walls and had plenty of windows that invited the natural sunlight. The other studio space was the Moon room, just as soft as it sounds, which hosted Yin and Restorative classes. The studio has a lot to do with the intentions and energy behind who created/owned it.
I had around 6 books to read and I started reading the one with the least amount of pages: The Four Agreements by Miguel Don Ruiz, the book that I recommend everyone to read, because once I dove into the book, it changed my perspective of my own upbringing, and of course, that’s the type of open-mindedness and immersion you need going into YTT. Though overwhelming to read so much before and during the training, it was better than studying for tests at the university. It's something I can relate to, rather than solving math problems and memorizing facts just to pass exams.
My YTT schedule was set for 3 months, an every other weekend schedule of 1-6pm on Fridays, and 8am-6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Though I’d be exhausted, I learned something new every day and my mentor, Kim Zegil, and my fellow YTT classmates, had unique and fun energies that I would look forward to those YTT weekends.
First Weekend: opening up, getting to know one another and each of us sharing what brought us to want to become Yoga teachers. **Keep in mind, you had to have actively been practicing yoga for 6 months in order to get your yoga certification, in which I think is an adequate time. This is my unpopular opinion, but I’ve noticed that some people take a few yoga classes, and decide to become teachers immediately. Some because they are into fitness and others to make some side money, but I strongly believe you have to grow into understanding and loving the practice on your own, seeing its true benefits, before receiving a certificate to teach. Passion is subjective and cannot be taught, but having your own experience as evidence of the benefits of Yoga, pursues the right intentional use for the certificate. My classmates also had valid reasons for wanting to receive their certification: it supplemented their current job (we had a physical therapist), in depth knowledge of the Yoga practice, and others, like me, wanted to teach!
By the second day, my body was exhausted. An Epsom salt-bath was recommended, and truly, I had no idea what that was, but I made the effort to buy it and start a bath; and that began my first unintentional lesson: A little self-care goes a long way, and it can't just be Yoga. Yoga is not the only resource for vital health.
I believe one of the best things about YTT is that every Saturday there was a new teacher, along with our mentor, that taught either different styles of yoga, introduced us to anatomy, essential oils, etc. I remember we practiced Ashtanga yoga, Pre-natal Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, Vinyasa (YTT certification was on this), and so much more that opened my eyes to various yoga styles and spiritual quests along the way. With that came lesson #2, Teach what matches your energy, in my case, Vinyasa flow. Though I am capable of taking and teaching slower paced classes like Yin, I will always prefer to teach what aligns with me energetically.
The weekends were also spent practicing teaching and cueing poses, adding transitions, and making our own sequences. This came naturally to me, however, the anatomy weekend was the most exhausting, but it is one of the most crucial weekends. This brings me to lesson #3: Practice your weakest skill; mine is anatomy- not because I don’t know correct alignment, but because I have a hard time remembering parts of the body. With time and teaching, I’ve developed an overall understanding of essential corrections to the human body, but I definitely have to consistently learn in order to apply yoga to all different bodies and my own.
Like in all YTT, you learn the philosophy of Yoga, all 8 limbs of them. Yes, most people come into yoga because of the physical practice, and that’s low-key how we all start, but as you dive deeper into your practice, you acknowledge that the asanas are just a lesson of growing consciously into your own true being. It teaches you the core values and discipline that Yoga implements outside of the physical practice. It’s as if I had already touched the surface, but now had a wider explanation for what I once couldn’t put into words. It made some perspectives and teachings clear for me, and though life cannot teach all of these concepts at once, it is lesson #4: Yoga is an infinite universal message.
I believe the pilot and breakthrough to my own inner healing was the weekend of the Chakra flow. It’s nothing I’m embarrassed about because it was an important catalyst to who I became. It was in Goddess pose while doing repetitive lion’s breath that triggered the release of years of low self-esteem and trusting wrong energies.
During YTT, we were told to journal and I didn't like it, especially since I felt like I was back in elementary school writing random, useless words in my pink fuzzy diary, now a real-life notebook. Ha! But for another reason, my ego said that all of my thoughts or problems were already worked out within my mind, so there was no need to put it down on paper. My spirit had to experience the Chakra flow to fully understand the concept, and that day I wrote words organically. Journaling has no standards, it is your own method of processing nothing, anything, or everything. What I ended up writing as a mantra is: “My heart is open, I am finally free”. Of course it sounds cheesy, but I was 20 years old, and just beginning to go inwards.
So what exactly changed? I chose myself and became selfish in a positive way, and that was lesson #5: Make yourself a priority. Of course, now I advise people to journal to help cope through emotions or to perhaps have epiphanies in the process. I'm on the constant pursuit of happiness and epiphanies.
Fast forward to the last few weekends of YTT, we had to practice teaching in small groups. My anxiety was taking over; I blanked out on names of the poses, transitional cues didn't make sense, and my brain felt disorganized. Thankfully, this was just practice and it’s normal get stuck on something as simple as Sun Salutation A; in which I now teach effortlessly. However, one of the best things that Kim taught us is that, never have a sequence fully planned, because anyone can walk into your class, with injuries, pregnant, feeling nauseous, then you will get into your head and want to change your whole sequence for that one particular client, and will feel unprepared. So, scratch that, instead, lesson #6: Be prepared to be unprepared. The intention should be to create a sequence that will benefit every single person in that room, regardless of experience, each can scale up or down, and it’s on you to not stick to a particular plan, but to give them the opportunity to tap within.
As YTT started wrapping up, it was my turn to teach a class as the final. It was a memorable day for me; there was no hesitation or anxiety, instead it was a walk down my own memory from years of practice, completely guided by the love and strength Yoga had personally taught me. The feedback after class validated that this aligned with my dharma; youthful, playful, fun, challenging, creative, all in which has not changed these past six years. So the final lesson #7: Your authenticity is infinite art.
On graduation day of YTT, we all meditated, laughed, ate, and drew pictures of how we saw ourselves—a reflection on the experience. It ended with all of us around a circle, talking about what we were grateful for and as we received our certificates, Kim told us each to say just ONE word to describe the person holding their certificate. As I held my certificate, absolutely over the moon, the circle ended with my mentor, Kim. She looked at me straight in the eye and said “Gold”, and that’s how I became, Golden Yogi Maggs.
I am forever grateful. 🙏
Would love to hear about your own experiences with Yoga, trainings, or your teachers! Comment below and feel free to share with a friend who might be interested in growing their practice or becoming a Yoga teacher.