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Again and again, we hear Yoga District teacher trainees reflect on the training as an experience that went far beyond learning to teach the poses. The training is designed to take the trainees’ whole selves into account—because yoga is a practice that asks us to call upon all aspects of who we are and because teaching yoga must come from every part of us, body, mind, and spirit. In the piece below, Sophia Cedillos Guth reflects on what drove her to leave the sun of Costa Rica to teacher train at Yoga District during a bitter Washington winter—and how she transformed far beyond what she could ever have expected.

From “Pura Vida” to Pure Winter

Sophia Cedillos Guth

Yoga has been the only consistent thing in my life. It has always felt to me that practicing yoga makes my real Self dance through my cloudy Self. After a few years of practicing, I knew that I needed to do something different that would defy my boundaries—my comfort zone. The internet was my best friend: I searched everywhere for anything that would resonate with this need of change. Hours later, I found Yoga District’s Teacher Training. I instantly read everything and contacted for information.

A call from the unknown was pulling me towards leaving the sunny weather of Costa Rica for the snowy winter of D.C. I didn’t hesitate; it fit perfectly with my inner revolution. Everything was starting to fall into place: my boundaries wouldn’t be so comfy after all. However, I had yet to see just how uncomfy they would get.

Language became a protagonist in my story. “I’ve never had problems with English so no worries,” said my confident Self. Well, as a matter of fact, I was terrified because I have never immersed myself into a fully English-speaking community.

As the training started, I immediately felt how my comfort zone was destroyed. I couldn’t find the English words; I was blank. I understood what everyone was saying, and I loved everything shared by Jasmine and everyone, but I felt that I was not participating. I was tongue tied. Nevertheless, everyone was so kind and supportive. “Your English is perfect,” said everyone kindly.

The hardest part for me was that yoga—the only thing where I felt I could be my real Self—was now turning into a battle. When I wanted to share the practice by teaching—I couldn’t do it! How come?! I felt lost and frustrated.

The meditation practice we did every day was my medicine. After the third day of meditating with everyone, I realized something. Before D.C. everything seemed so easy, and I always felt confident in myself; I felt like I could do anything. In the teacher training, I was a newborn.

I realized that my tongue was tied because I needed to listen, to lose a little bit of my confidence in order to surrender myself to the experience. I realized that this was one of those humbling experiences that makes you feel more human and alive.

After realizing this, I dedicated myself to listening to what others shared, to absorbing as much as I could about every experience, and to pushing my battling ego aside so that I could really cherish it all. The days were passing and the training was becoming more and more enlightening. I was not just learning about myself, I was really capturing the essence and the profundity of what yoga really is. The Yoga Sutras, The Bhagavad Gita, the teachers that came and shared with us their experiences made me realize how little I knew about the commitment of being a yoga teacher. It was then that I recognized that yoga was not just a practice that made my real Self dance but an offering to our truest nature. Being a teacher is not just knowing how to cue an asana or knowing the alignment, it is also about living the teachings of yoga.

As time passed, my confidence was neither being crushed nor growing. I was just living day by day and experiencing as much as I could. During the training different teachers from Yoga District visited us; they came to share their paths and their understanding of being a yoga teacher and a human. We listened to so many different perspectives that we felt free to choose whatever felt right for us. I understood that there is no right or wrong; you just do whatever fits you. This freedom made me appreciate every bit of what they were sharing because I saw that it was okay to change, to love change, and to accept change. In fact, I realized that in order to welcome the “different,” I needed to see that there are no right or wrong paths, you just have to BE.

Everything had been defied. I’m using the word “defied” because a lot of my thoughts and beliefs about myself were changing. My training mates were the best mirror to look into because they showed me I was not alone. I wasn’t the only one struggling with confidence, language, commodities, weather, etc. We were all in that together. Maybe I was struggling with overcoming my Spanish in particular, but they were also struggling with finding the words in English. We were all nervous when giving cues or teaching the entire class. We all changed our habitual routines to be there, fully immersed during those twelve days. It wasn’t just me revolutionizing myself; we were all doing it in our own unique way. And we were there for each other.

What can I say? Yoga District Teacher Training has changed my life. It was the perfect place to find more pieces of myself. I’m grateful to have encountered so many beautiful souls, to learn so much from others, to witness how much we are able to grow in a few days, to find a place that felt like home, to have lived with Jasmine and my training mates in a union where differences created the “salsa” of the whole thing.

Yes, it was very cold outside, but I felt as warm as on any sunny day in Costa Rica. I’m humbled to have had the opportunity to learn from everyone there; I’m amazed how yoga and its teachings are now my way of living. Of course, I had my ups and downs, but we all have them. The difference here was that I was totally connected with my true Self and with others’ true Selves. I felt every emotion you can think of, but I also felt the void that tells you, “Just be, smile, and carry on.” Everything was amazing; everything went fine. I stepped out of my comfort zone, and I can happily say that I did it!

The training is not just about training to become a teacher. You will leave with all the tools you need for teaching—but Yoga District gives you the outside and the space within to find the YOU that’s true. Yoga District and its souls will always be in my heart.

Pura vida, Yoga District!

Until next time,

Sophia

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