My journey from yoga student to becoming a teacher and later on a teacher’s teacher was an organic process that evolved over many years.
There were no certification programs or schools.
Instead, I sought out trainings with teachers who had been teaching for a long time. Many of my “professors” had been studying and teaching yoga for decades.
Looking back, I feel incredibly fortunate to have studied with some of these masters without even knowing I was learning from a very minute few of traditionally trained yoga instructors.
Finding Teachers & Going Against the Grain
There was no World Wide Web, no Facebook or Instagram, no Twitter. It was word of mouth and the Yoga Journal magazine where one could find teachers to train with. One Iyengar training I took was in Swanage, England after having received a flyer as part of the packaging in a box of yoga props I’d ordered after moving to Arkansas!
Moving to Fayetteville in 1993 with no jobs, no relatives or friends, and not wanting to leave the islands was a challenge.
I knew that I wanted to share the benefits of yoga to as many people as I could. But back then, in western culture, yoga was in it’s fledgling stages. Luckily, a lovely woman named Candace Marie was teaching in her living room. She was a beacon of light. She invited me to teach at her home. That was a good start for me as I met many wonderful people who knew yoga was a beneficial mode of staying healthy.
I wanted yoga to expand and reach more people, but as I talked with locals I began to realize we were living in an area of the country that was not very receptive to this “alternative” modality of staying healthy.
Many people thought yoga was a devil worship practice and a cult. I had never experienced these attitudes in Hawaii.
I was discouraged, but I didn’t want to give up.
A Moment of Insight
Around that time, my insightful husband David was reading an article in a “New Age” magazine. It was a series of interviews with famous athletes asking how they stayed in the game for so long. Kareem Abdul-Jabar was one of the athletes interviewed and he said yoga was his go-to choice to stay flexible, pain free, and balanced. He even said it improved his concentration on the court. David’s insight came through a question he posed to me, “Why don’t you teach the University of Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball team yoga?”
My response, “Who is there coach?”
We were so new in Fayetteville that I didn’t know anything about team or the coach. As it turned out, Noland Richardson was an amazing coach to an incredible team of student athletes. But, I didn’t let that stop me. After many messages to reach Coach Richardson, he finally called me back.
We met and to my surprise, he was totally willing to have his team try a yoga session with me. Lucky for me, the team was hooked after one session. They loved it! Corliss Williamson was totally into it.The news covered the session and the next day in the local papers the headlines read, “Hogs Do Yoga”
I taught the team until they went to the NCAA playoffs and they WON! Yoga quickly became more acceptable to people in Fayetteville, since the Razorbacks were doing it.
My experience with the Hogs was a great springboard. Soon, I was able to get my foot in the door with Washington Regional’s Exercise Center.
Yoga was going mainstream in Arknasas!