Updated: May 27, 2020
“Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” I remember reading this quote a few years back and my life at the time resonating with it. My “dream” career, or so I thought, was slowly becoming more and more difficult to attain for the long haul seeing as the profession I chose to undergrad in was incredibly competitive. Although immensely rewarding, being a special education teacher had its many challenges and added stresses that it should not have had in the first place. I found as the years went on, the candle that once burned so brightly for this occupation was slowly starting to dwindle and the passion I once felt so strongly was no longer there. It was only a matter of time before I would possibly be forced to walk away from something I once loved so dearly, and follow my soul to its next journey.
Being the youngest amongst my siblings, I always found myself following in my sister's footsteps. Marissa became a dancer at a young age, so naturally I became one. Once she danced for twelve years, she moved on to join her high school’s competitive cheerleading squad; so of course, I did as well. This trend would become a pattern throughout my life as I attended the same college she once did and took the same career path she still resides in, in the same exact school district she still teaches in. We were two peas in a pod, always supporting one another through life's toughest moments. I had always trusted her intentions for me and my life to be the most pure and loving, knowing whatever direction she thought I should go in would be the right one for me. She believed in me a way that no one else ever did, and knew I was put on earth to change people’s lives for the better. It only made sense that we would one day end up becoming business partners to my most desired calling.
Whenever I had an emotionally taxing day, I knew the exact remedy that would appease my worries. Yoga was a release for me that was indescribable. The minute I would step upon my mat and set my intention for the evening, I knew I would be able to leave all of my troubles within those four walls. I will never forget my sister asking me if I wanted to attend a hot yoga class at the studio she loved going to several times a week. She had known then the same issues she had been dealing with throughout her everyday life were vastly similar to mine (work, relationships, etc.) and it was very clear to her that I needed the same comfort she had felt after her yoga class was complete. We were always into fitness and understood the stress reliever working out had provided us; however, never understood to the full capacity just how deep into the mind a workout class could go. Not only was I beginning to understand how beneficial yoga was to the body, but how drastically it could shape your everyday mindset.
It was no coincidence that after joining a studio and taking regular sessions weekly, my life began to change for the better. I no longer stressed and worried as I once had, I found my body becoming more strong and limber, and all in all, I was becoming a much more positive individual. Yoga had now taken on an entirely different meaning than just a sweat session of burning some mega calories. I was able to sleep better, tackle a more jam packed day without feeling so much pressure, and keep my body in a healthy state of mind at all times. From that very first class five years prior, I knew yoga had become the passion I was lacking at that time in my life, and I knew yoga would be the key to changing my life forever.
As I said earlier, teaching is an incredibly competitive field and until tenured, you walk on eggshells at the end of every school year in hopes the district would not be making any cuts,
and your job would still be available for the following school year. After three years of extensive devotion of my time and energy, being moved around to several different grade levels, both general and special education, and endless hours of work, I received the devastating news of no longer having a spot for my position the following school year. Being the low man on the totem pole, I knew why I was chosen among others, but that did not lessen the pain. I poured my heart and soul into growing the minds of children and always preaching to them to think outside of the box. I lent my ears when they needed someone to speak to and offered a hug when they needed more support. I went above and beyond to ensure my students felt safe within our classroom and instilled the confidence within each of them to conquer life's greatest battles. The weeks that followed receiving that news were some of the most unsettling moments of my life. Although I knew I wanted to change careers, I was not ready to uproot and leave it all behind. I guess that is the funny thing about fate; it always shows up when you least expect it to come your way. Yet, there were so many questions I pondered upon daily, trying to find new meaning to my life. I turned to the one thing that always brought calmness to any storm I encountered and found myself practicing yoga more regularly. Yet, this time, yoga took on an entirely new meaning.
I would always admire my instructors and how they took on the art of yoga, transpiring their love for it beautifully onto their students. It was at this point I had begun to realize there was a reason there was no teaching position for me in the upcoming school year and the dire need to accept this as a sign from the universe. I no longer loved teaching in the form of elementary education, but knew I still wanted to help shape minds for the better. When a child grasps a concept that they once struggled to understand, us teachers referred to this as an “Aha moment.” I began to think...”What if I still was able to teach students, but in a different form?” Without even realizing, I hit my “Aha moment.” I knew right then and there I would take every step I needed to fulfill my dream of becoming a yoga instructor.
Months and months after very tedious training, from very thorough instructors, I felt proud of my accomplishments of earning my yoga certification and knew this was the beginning of something very magical. Everything was falling into place and it finally registered with me why my life had taken so many routes, experiencing the speed bumps I had along the way. I became a teacher to instill the confidence I needed to complete my yoga training and feel a sense of naturalness leading a class of individuals through a flow.
A person must remember... Every single step they take throughout their life is meaningful and has a purpose. No two steps are ever the same and each need one another to progress forward. It is by moving forward that we are able to accomplish amazing things. Not a single day goes by that I do not feel extreme gratitude for following in my sister’s footsteps, for I would not be where I am today. And today, I feel the most fulfilled I ever have before by teaching individuals the art form that has always guided my soul to the light: yoga.