How in the world did I get here? My journey to teaching yoga

This week’s blog entry is written by guest author Melanie Reed.  Melanie is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s advanced 500 hour teacher training program and a teacher at Whole Life Yoga.    She can be contacted at

I never imagined myself as a teacher of anything.  Most of my life, I have struggled with issues of anxiety and confidence, especially in groups, most especially in front of a group.  The thought of directing a practice as my yoga teachers did never once crossed my mind.

I had been taking private instruction with Tracy and dropping into classes at  Whole Life Yoga for about 6 months and felt a bit of confidence growing in my body and a deepening awareness and sensitivity physically and energetically (and the low back and hip pain I had experienced for years was gone – the first of many yoga miracles!).  One Wednesday night during Tracy’s 6:00 pm All-Levels class I experienced what I can only describe as ground rising up underneath me.  I remember the whole experience had a soft golden hue and I felt a kind of loving support that seemed endless.  I somehow ‘knew’ that this ground was connected with the yoga practice.

After the practice, Tracy happened to ask me how I was doing and I burst out sobbing.  When I told her what I had experienced during the practice and that I felt so strongly a desire to know more, she suggested that I take the 200 hour yoga teacher training that the studio offers.

I was completely astounded!  And, I said,’ but I can’t do any of the poses right’.

Tracy said, ‘That doesn’t matter at all.  The correct form of the postures is the least important element in yoga.’  It took a number of weeks to become accustomed to the idea of taking the training.  Meanwhile, I started reading Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga and began to see a small bit of the beauty and wisdom of this path.

Throughout the 9 months of the training, I steadfastly held to my belief that I did not want to teach, but was only interested in deepening my personal practice – which of course happened in spades.  I learned many details and options which allowed me to modify poses and sequences not only to keep myself safe while practicing, but also this made the practice of yoga far more interesting.  I learned that each posture offers so many adaptations that I could match exactly what I needed no matter what my physical, energetic, or emotional state.  I loved being in a drop-in yoga class and understanding the hidden meaning of the posture sequence being taught.  It was like learning a new language; I had been given the secret yoga decoder ring.

In the last months of the training, it did finally come down to teaching – I taught my own 4 series class; which was at once the most challenging thing I’ve ever done and one of the most rewarding – because I learned so much about myself.  I learned that I can feel terrified and still speak, still move, still function and more personal to me, function as a teacher.  Albeit – a teacher in the very beginning stage.

In other words, I could move though the terror of being in front of a group, being the one speaking, the one directing others; and on the other side of the fear, I survived, in a purer form for having gone through the experience.  I had to give up the belief that I never know enough – and to trust and even relax while teaching others of the beauty and harmony in each posture, in each sequence taught in this Viniyoga tradition.

I found the Whole Life Yoga 200 hour teacher training program an intensely transformative experience and this process continues each time I am privileged to teach a yoga class – and no one is more surprised than I to find that the words, ‘on inhale, sweep your arms up, on exhale…’ are coming out of my mouth.

More information about Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program can be found at our web site:  Yoga Teacher Training at Whole Life Yoga.

2 thoughts on “How in the world did I get here? My journey to teaching yoga

  1. Kristen Nelson

    Excellent….thank you for such an honest approach to your experience with yoga. It takes great courage to teach and even more to teach while being yourself. Thanks for your wise words.

  2. Hayden

    So well written and honest and true…thank you Melanie. Even though I know I am not alone in my fight against myself, it is easy to think everyone’s got it worked out except for me! The part of teaching that isn’t often spoken of…whew! A battle of the mind but so much received in return.


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