Why Yoga Teach Training is Not Just for People Who Want to Teach Yoga

Yoga teacher training always sounds so good; a great concentrated way to focus and deepen your practice.  But isn’t it restricted to only potential yoga instructors?   Nope!  We’ve recently learned that anyone who practices consistently and who wants to grow and learn is welcome.

Our brand Ambassador Leslie (@goodgroundyoga) is a yogi that has led countless yoga teacher trainings.  She recommends yoga teacher training, even if you’re not planning on being a yoga teacher.  Check out Leslie’s great insights on yoga teacher training below!


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga

I have always been around yoga. My mother was a yoga junkie back in the day and I have vivid memories of her doing yoga in her nightgown on her bedroom floor. She went to this kooky yoga center in Brooklyn where we grew up. The classes she attended were two hours long. There was a lecture, a discussion, a traditional asana class and somewhere in there a cold shower to cleanse the body and mind of impurities. My mother worked hard to incorporate the principals of yoga into her daily life. I remember when she struggled with eating meat when she was introduced to the principal of ahimsa (non-harming). She even took me away to an ashram for my first retreat when I was around 12 years old. This was before the time yoga retreats were fashionable. We slept in a dorm, chanted, ate in silence and spent a lot of time just being quiet.

It wasn’t such a stretch that I would find myself many years later at an ashram one New Years Eve feeling like I was at home for the very first time. By the next day I had decided to take an extended vacation from my job as an attorney at a domestic violence advocacy clinic to stay on at the ashram to do a month long yoga teacher training.

Clearly a seed was planted. Since that day, I have taken countless teacher trainings and now lead them myself at my studio Good Ground Yoga. After all these years, it still delights me to see that the most transformative part of these teacher trainings is not learning the poses, but how to live a life that is meaningful, purposeful and most importantly, authentic. Wanting to be a yoga instructor is not a requirement for yoga teacher training!


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga


Yoga teacher trainings are opportunities to grow not just as teachers, but as humans.

I have discovered that true growth happens when we are out of automatic, when we are in the unknown or even the uncomfortable. This is because when we get out of automatic, we are our most authentic self. Getting out of automatic helps us as teachers and as humans debunk the myth that what we habitually do is who we really are. During yoga teach training, you will be challenged to explore the uncomfortable, challenging, and unfamiliar.


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga


Yoga teacher trainings challenge you to think outside of your habitual box and widen your field of view:

  • to see the extraordinary in the ordinary,
  • to see the beauty in the smallest things,
  • to use the breath to stay present and grounded,
  • to feel empowered and capable,
  • to be honest and authentic in all the areas of your life.



Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga


I believe that a yoga training is one of the best investments you can make in yourself.

Teacher trainings are not exclusively for people who want to teach yoga. More than half of my trainees who attend my trainings just want to learn more about themselves. If you are one of the lucky few who do make that investment, at graduation you will get much more than a certificate.


You will leave teacher training with a spiritual, emotional and energetic tool box.

What you build or dismantle after yoga teach training is entirely up to you!


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga


If you are interested in doing a Yoga Teacher Training and live in Long Island, check out Leslie’s Good Ground Yoga Teacher Training. Her next one starts in February 2017.


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga


Yoga Fall Flow

The change of seasons, especially from summer to fall, can be tough on your mind and body. We recently chatted with MI OLA brand ambassador Jessica B. (@jessicabellofatto) and she knew just the remedy to help us transition into fall. As a yoga teacher, retreat leader, and studio owner in East Hampton, New York, Jessica is very familiar with transitions and guiding not only herself, but her students as well, through these transition periods. Check out her Yoga Fall Flow below!


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jessica- @jessicabellofatto

**It is always important to consult your physician before starting an exercise program. If you’re already a practicing yogi, jump into this. If not, we strongly recommend taking a yoga beginner course at your local studio so that you understand the basics, and most importantly, proper alignment.** In other words, this yoga sequence is recommended for this that already have an established yoga practice – you understand proper alignment and know your limits.**

Transition into fall with a ‘Yoga Fall Flow’:

I live in a seasonal resort community on the eastern end of Long Island, where Memorial Day heralds in the ‘summer’ season and Labor Day weekend marks the end.  Many people here rent homes for the summer season, Memorial Day to Labor Day, and often (although less and less as people catch on), Labor Day weekend is like the faucet being turned off abruptly.  Houses get closed down, restaurants and shops go from being open 7 days a week to closing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, parking spots in the village open up, and the number of students in any given yoga class drops from 40 down to 15. 

It is a time of abrupt transition, and it can be jarring.  For those of us that reside here year round, it is often a welcome relief, and yet can also be bittersweet.  Labor Day weekend for many of us means less work, (yay!), but also less money (boo!).  Life can return to a semblance of normality, but we don’t really know what normal is, with so much fluctuation from season to season, from winter to summer to winter again.  And for the people that live in the city, I imagine (and hear from students and clients) that the transition is even more challenging.  They go from living close to the beach, in nature, spending lots of time outside, kids running around at clambakes and farmers’ markets, to the urban jungle of NYC – –  smaller apartments, lots of concrete, and a much more structured routine of school and work.

Transitions then can be really challenging, although, when we think about it, isn’t everything in transition ALL the time?  In the words of Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, “The only constant is change.”  From the moment we are born until our last breath, there is change, movement, fluctuation in the body, the mind, and the world around us.  The practice of yoga teaches us how to gracefully, ease-fully, and happily navigate the constant movement of life, while inviting us to tap into and connect with a deep inner stillness, a vast inner silence.

As we transition from summer to fall, or any time you are feeling anxious or ungrounded by some transition in your life, try this short sequence.  While practicing, maintain awareness of your feet and any other parts of your body that are touching the ground.  We must always root to rise, and acknowledging our connection to source and to earth that not only grounds, calms, and allows us to feel more emotionally and physically stable, but also gives us a deeper appreciation for the miracle of our bodies as well.

 **If you need clarification on any of these poses, click on the links for references on how to correctly do the yoga poses.**

Constructive Rest- Back Body Meditation:

Start on your back, in what is referred to as constructive rest position.  Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.  Have your feet slightly wider than hips width apart and allow your inner knees to come together (letting your legs fall in slightly.)  Rest your hands on your belly.  Start by noticing the parts of your body that are making actual contact with the floor- the back of your skull, the backs of your upper arms, the middle and upper back region, the back of your pelvis, the soles of your feet.  Allow these areas to spread and widen in such a way as to increase their contact with the earth.  As you do this, breathe slowly and deeply (but not loudly) through your nose, and with your hands on your belly feel the gentle rise and fall of your breath, the rise and fall of your belly.  Notice where and how the breath moves through the body, where and how the breath is received in the body.  Then bring your awareness to the other parts of the back body- the parts not actually touching the floor.  There is no need to PUSH these parts down, but rather, feel and allow a softening, a release, a settling downwards of these parts also-  release the muscles of the back of your neck, the muscles and bones of your lower back. Feel the thigh bones rooting more deeply into the hip sockets.  Start now to invite the front body to be absorbed and received by the back body as the back body settles more deeply.  Stay for about 5 minutes and then hug your knees into your chest and roll to your right side.


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jessica- @jessicabellofatto

Mountain Pose (Tadasana):

Come to stand now.  There are different ways to do mountain pose, but for our purposes of grounding, keep the feet slightly apart (about inner hips width distance apart).  You can line up your hip bones, the bony hip points to the left and right and slightly below your navel, with the center of your ankle and your second toe lines.  Start by lifting and spreading all of your toes while pressing down the four corners of your feet (the big toe ball mound, the inner heel, the baby toe ball mound, the outer heel).  As you lift and spread your toes and press the 4 corners down, the arches of your feet will lift and energy will start to draw UP the legs, into the root (mula) chakra at the base of your spine.  This energetic center is associated with the earth, stability, grounded-ness, and having our basic needs met.  Turning on this area can help to balance us when we are in transition.  Now that we have addressed the feet and legs, stretch the arms out from the center of the chest and interlace the fingers together.  Point the thumb and index finger straight and actively raise the arms over the head.  Lengthen and extend DOWN from the pelvis through the legs into the feet and into the earth as you simultaneously reach upwards, lifting the ribs off the waist, the chest off the ribs, and feel that you are liberating your entire spine (and body!) from the rootedness of the legs and the reach of the arms.  Stay up to one minute and relax.

Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2):

Warrior poses are grounding.  They develop strength in the legs and a sense of empowerment overall, ready to take on the world!  To do, separate the legs WIDE apart (4-5 feet, and the longer your legs the longer your stride).  Turn your right foot 90 degrees out and the left (back) foot 10 degrees in.  Press the outer edge of the back foot down as you bend the front (right) leg to a right angle, keeping the knee directly over the ankle, with the thigh bone parallel to the ground.  Stretch and extend the arms out from the center of the chest, parallel to the ground. Turn the head and gaze past the middle finger of the right hand.  Breathe and stay about one minute in the pose.  On an inhalation, straighten the right leg, switch the feet and do the second side.  While in the pose, pay special attention to the feet and legs, and how the sense of gravity creates a reciprocal rebound effect. The more we root down and connect to the earth, we more we can allow ourselves to feel safe to navigate anything life is throwing our way.


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jessica- @jessicabellofatto

Reverse Warrior 2 (Peaceful Warrior) to Half Moon (Reverse Virabhadrasana 2 to Arda Chandrasana):

I love these two poses one after the next and back again because they take us through a BIG transition- from a pose where we are reaching over our back legs all the way to a one legged balance on the opposite leg.  This big transition teaches us to once again, root down into our feet and legs and the support of the earth so that we can move through space, leap into the unknown, and spread our wings and fly.  To do, go back into Warrior 2 (the previous pose).  If the right leg is forward, start to slide the left hand down the left (back) leg into a graceful arc on your right side body. Feel the stretch and the opening all along your right side ribs.  Maintain the deep bend of your right leg even as you slide your left hand further down your left leg.  Take a few breaths here and then, in one sweeping graceful, movement shift your weight onto your right leg as you lift your left leg off the floor.  Touch down with your right hand 6-8 inches in front of your right foot.  The left leg lifts about parallel or slightly higher to the ground.  Reach your left arm up to the sky and eventually and gradually spin your belly, ribs, and chest to look up at the left hand.  Stay a few breaths and then try the transition back the way you came!  Repeat several times.

Final Relaxation (Savasana):

Lie down on your back.  Extend the arms and legs long along the floor and let the entire weight of the body sink into the support of the earth.  Allow your bones to settle, your muscles, your skin.  Breathe smoothly and deeply but begin to let go of the breath, as it breathes YOU, without any effort at all.  Feel yourself held by the loving arms of Mother Earth, Gaia, the Mother, and rest in the knowledge that it is all happening as it should, from one moment to the next, from one breath to the next.


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jessica- @jessicabellofatto

If you are visiting the Hamptons on Long Island, be sure to drop into Jessica’s website and her studio Kama Deva Yoga!

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