For my 28th birthday, I decided to do something special for myself. I enrolled in an eight-month 200-hour yoga teacher training program. As I look back over these past seven months, I can truly say that it was not only a great investment but also a wonderful experience. With only one weekend left of training, I’m filled with an array of emotions — mostly bittersweet.

These past few months have changed me in ways that I didn’t expect. For example, I didn’t expect to connect and have so much in common with many of the other teachers or meet new moms and schedule play dates for all of our minis to get together. I didn’t know that we would all care so much about each other and what was going on beyond our mats.

I just didn’t know what to expect.

Teacher training has not only helped me to focus on my personal practice by trusting myself and knowing I have everything I need within, but by also helping me to find my voice as a teacher. I pushed past my fear of public speaking, and now I’m leading my own yoga classes. If anyone knows me, they know how big of a deal this is for me.

Photo: chelsealovesyoga
Photo: Chelsealovesyoga

I have also learned that yoga is so much more than the physical. To me, it’s about going inward and focusing on my spiritual side. I’ve actually started focusing less on what my body can’t do and being more grateful for what it can do. As a result, I’ve learned that I can actually do more than I ever imagined or gave myself credit for, and I found strength that I didn’t know I had.

For life off the mat, things I’ve learned in training have helped me to accept constructive criticism. This is an ongoing battle, but I can say that I’ve come a long way and I’m still moving in a positive direction. I’ve also learned to let go of my ego, not in the traditional sense, but by learning that most things are out of my control and, quite frankly, have nothing to do with me at all. This has given me so much more peace in life.

Honestly, these days I just find that I enjoy myself better. I’m happier and more aware of the things that I want. My head is clear and I’m more focused. I’m learning to meditate and I take my personal practice seriously and have made it a priority in my life.

Initially, I decided to take the training to advance my personal practice. In the end, I’ve accomplished that and so much more. I teach now and get to share the beautiful gift of yoga with others.

The training has also taught me more about the history of yoga and how it’s so much more than just about postures and yoga mats. It has ignited a fire within me that I refuse to let extinguish. I’m hungry to learn more and I constantly feed that desire by going to workshops and classes, reading classical texts and learning from others.

Photo: nyumbanitv
Photo: Nyumbani tv

As the training comes to an end and I reflect over the past months, I can’t help but feel joy and gratitude for being blessed to have this experience. This ride has been so exciting and I can’t wait to see where I go next, but for now, I’m definitely enjoying the journey. I’m so glad I gave myself that gift.

What was your defining yoga moment? Share your experience in the comments! 

READ NEXT: 5 reasons to start a yoga practice