I used to waitress at this wine bar in the NYC’s Flatiron District when I was in my early 20’s. My walk from the L train in Union Square was so exciting at the time. Bars and restaurants on every corner, fancy storefronts with expensive price tags, apartment buildings made of brown stone and one yoga studio that always caught my attention. As I walked to work each day, I would pass signs for “Hot Power Yoga” with no idea what the “hot” part really meant. My initial venture into the yoga world was a hatha yoga course in college that was one day a week for a semester. I remember the chit-chat of disconnected college girls as the instructor continued to do her best to keep order in the room with each inhale and exhale she instructed. I found myself enjoying every moment.
When tips from waiting tables gave me the extra cash to try a class at a real yoga studio, I signed up at the Hot Power Yoga studio that always caught my eye.
One Saturday morning, I dragged my roommate (who had no idea what she was in for) and set our mats up in the front row. (Big mistake. Huge.) I have no memory of anything I did for that hour, whether I felt hot, weak, tired, or inspired by the class at all. What I do remember is what happened after. I went back again and again and again.
After a year of taking classes on and off at this studio, I signed up for their first ever Yoga Teacher Training with no clue what I was doing. My inexperience and lack of strength was a hindrance for me for the entire time I was a part of this training. I was out of my element, the weakest practitioner and horrible at teaching. I always said to the people in class, “I will never be able to do this.” (As I recall, they didn’t correct me on that either.) For some reason the constant self doubt I experienced during this time never caused me to give up.
My dream was to teach at my hot power yoga studio, the place I called home for many years. I did whatever I could to build my resume by volunteering, teaching for free, traveling really far for incredibly awkward teaching scenarios for little to no money at all, just to show them I could do it. When I finally felt ready, I asked to ‘audition’ for my studio’s sub list a few months after I received my certification. In a room with 6 people, I taught about a 2-minute sequence with confidence, clarity, and a surprisingly strong tone that I didn’t even know I had in me. When it was over, I thought to myself….”Wow you killed it!’
When I sat down to talk to my teacher, I was confident that she’d tell me how great I did. The polite smile she initially had when we began to talk, turned into a frown (a moment I will never forget) as she told me I wasn’t ready...at all. Like an acting audition gone wrong, the rejection felt painful, unfair and extremely disappointing. Looking back, I feel so thankful for that moment. Sometimes rejection from the things we really want gives us the push needed to work harder towards our goals. If things come easy to us, there is nothing making us prove ourselves or work hard for what we want.
Since hot power yoga was the only yoga I had known, it was my goal to teach classes in a packed, sweaty room with music blasting and the lights down low. At the time, I was too new to understand all of what went into teaching people how to move….how an instructor’s knowledge of movement, anatomy, and spirituality is what makes a class powerful…not how many chatarunga’s the class can do. I continued to teach for any opportunity that came my way and began to work at the desk at an unheated yoga studio uptown, as it was right around the corner from where I lived. Looking back, I didn’t realize I was taking classes and forming bonds with THE BEST yoga teachers in NYC and beyond. What a blessing. If I were not rejected from my studio, I would have never tried a new place where fresh seeds were planted, ultimately taking me in a different direction down the road.
I always knew something was missing from my classes as I would get a pit in my stomach after people would walk out with no acknowledgement of what they experienced with me. I knew I needed to continue my education, take more trainings, practice and study a lot more. I would soak up all of the classes at this studio, wanting to take in every word these amazing instructors spewed out so effortlessly.
One teacher received the most amazing feedback from all of the students after each class she taught. I listened to their comments as they exited the room with rose-colored cheeks and a twinkle in their eyes.
“I loved how descriptive she was with her cues!”
“She has such a unique teaching style!”
“My body feels so good!”
“She knows so much about ANATOMY.”
That was it. Anatomy was my missing piece. The piece to my puzzle that would give me the knowledge to teach safe, intelligently sequenced classes so each person I instructed felt supported in their unique and beautiful bodies.
I looked up this instructor’s bio and signed up for Yoga Tune Up® which I discovered was a big part of her background. The description of this training mentioned anatomy and had several other training modules that I could stick with if I found this worked for me and luckily it did.
After taking the most challenging trainings ever in my life, I moved to New Jersey and finally got a permanent teaching spot at a very popular hot power yoga studio. I owe the owner of this yoga studio my teaching career. She was patient, offered advice and motivating pep talks that eventually broke me out of my shell. For over 3 years, I taught a million classes per week at her studio, during peek time slots with over 30 people in the room. It was everything I ever wanted and worked so hard for. I found the person that was buried deep inside me, the person that yoga helped discover.
At the same time, I was teaching hot classes at another popular NJ studio, one that I am forever grateful for as well, as it has allowed me to evolve into the person and teacher I am today. The owners of this studio have been a huge support system during my transition back to NJ and during a very difficult time in my life.
For years, I worked so hard to become a hot power yoga teacher. In 2016, I was finally in the middle of having it all with packed classes and private lessons, accolades and big hugs after class. I was fulfilled with what I was doing but deep down knew that hot power yoga wasn’t my long-term goal anymore. I knew that I wanted a career and steady income as the uncertainty of my next paycheck was not what would keep me going for the rest of my life.
As I learned more about anatomy and biomechanics, I knew a new path was opening up for me. Little did I know, this would happen sooner than I expected.
At the peek of my teaching career, I came down with the worst case of vertigo and constant chronic dizziness that anyone should ever experience in life. The constant feeling of dizziness brought my hot power yoga-teaching career to an end. I fought as much as I could to hold onto it, but my body just wouldn’t let me anymore.
When you don’t get paid if you don’t go to work, the future looks a lot different. Because I was so sick for such a long period of time, I had to find a full time job that was stable, offered benefits and all of the things I did not have. I was devastated that I had to leave the life that made me so happy but I knew that in the long run, my health, bank account, and quality of life needed this change.
I knew that I wanted to always teach in some capacity so my other yoga studio allowed me to change classes from ‘ hot power’ to ‘basics’ with no heat at all. I incorporated all of the knowledge I acquired from years of study and began to pepper these concepts into classes. The year of dizziness gave me a deeper understanding of the healing aspects of yoga and I now go into each class I teach with a completely new perspective. The yoga classes I instruct currently are small, therapeutic, simple and instructed based on each individuals needs. I can take the time to assist each person so that the entire class feels like they received appropriate attention. Because my time of dizziness was so scary and unpredictable, I feel blessed every day and am a completely different person than I was before. I know what it’s like to feel horrible for a long period of time and I will do everything I can to take that pain away from the people who come to my classes.
All I want is for all students to feel amazing in their bodies and minds. To find relief and peace with whatever they are going through because we are ALL going through something. I feel that when I am teaching a class, we are all in it together. We are discovering new things about ourselves and working towards our goals as a community. The yoga community is such a beautiful thing. It brings people together in a positive way and creates bonds for a lifetime.
I still miss that fun energy of teaching a crowded room full of power yogis but I am ok with that part of my teaching coming to an end. If I were told that my sweaty NYC yoga classes would have brought me to the life I have right now, I would have thought someone was drinking too much wacky Kambucha.