“Yoga, as a way of life and a philosophy, can be practiced by anyone with an inclination to undertake it, for yoga belongs to humanity as a whole. It is not the property of any one group or any one individual, but can be followed by any and all, in any corner of the globe, regardless of class, creed, or religion.” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

                Yoga practitioners undergo yoga teacher training programs for a variety of reasons. I was already a full-time yoga teacher when I decided to apply to Eternal Health Yoga’s 200-hour primary teacher training program. I had participated in other teacher training programs, but I felt my education was lacking. I may be able to teach extended triangle pose in my sleep, but what good is that if I can’t explain to students why it matters?

As the title of Dennis and Kathy Lang’s book so profoundly professes, everything matters. That is why I chose to begin my studies at Eternal Health Yoga. It was indeed a transformational experience, and one of the best decisions I have ever made.

That is why I love to interview our recently graduated EHY teachers. This past May, a group of inspirational women completed the 2018-19 EHY teacher training program. Each embarked on this journey for her own reasons, and now each will take what she learned and share it with the world in a way that only she can. Some have chosen to share yoga as yoga teachers. Others will share yoga through their professions. All will share yoga simply by being the presence of the alternative when everyone around them loses their cool.

Here is my interview with two of our graduates, Jennifer Howard and Brittany Leonard.

First of all, thank you both for volunteering to be interviewed for our blog. This will help other future students understand what our primary 200-hour teacher training program is like and if it would be a good fit for them.

S.C. Why don’t we begin with an introduction? Please tell me a bit about yourself.

J.H. My name is Jenn Howard.  I currently run a yoga program at a healing facility, Soul Works. I am an apprentice to be a Medical Intuitive and Energy Healer. And I’ve just begun the journey of schooling my beautiful 5-year-old daughter at home.

B.L. My name is Brittany Leonard. I just turned 30 years old. My day job is being a hair dresser and I’ve always liked creative outlets. My hobbies have been yoga and photography.

S.C. People begin practicing yoga for a variety of reasons. Why did you begin practicing yoga?

J.H. I had just given birth to my daughter, Ghaia, and I wasn’t ready to jump back into my previous workout routine so I opted for a gentle beginners Hatha yoga class. My first Savasana was a beautiful experience. Maybe for the first time, I felt real stillness. I’ve been researching and practice the yogic lifestyle ever since.

B.L. Growing up I was a really active and loved sports. I ran cross country from grade school all through high school. However, during that time I had two surgeries on my legs. So needless to say, after years of competitive running and recovering from surgeries, I was burnt out and I wanted to take a break from running. I ended up putting my focus into starting my career as a hairdresser. After a couple years of physical exercise being on the back burner and being stressed out from working 55+ hours a week. I had a friend that invited me to yoga to help me decompress. I instantly fell in love with yoga not only for the exercise part but for the part that let me be in the moment.

S.C. What led you to EHY?

J.H. Spiritual guides in the form of friends encouraged me to do my training at EHY. I wanted a comprehensive understanding of the lifestyle along with the ability to cue asana.

B.L. I was led to EHY by a friend that went through the teacher training. She had nothing but great things to say about the studio.

S.C. Tell me about your decision to begin yoga teacher training.

J.H.  My personal practice was beautiful but I knew I was only scratching the surface of the wisdom afforded through yoga. I intuitively knew that training deeper into yoga would open new doors for me in my spiritual journey…and it did!

B.L. After practicing yoga for several years, I started having people ask me about yoga. Asking me questions from what is yoga to if they were doing posture correctly or what poses to do to stretch a certain body part.   I was noticing that since I pretty much taught myself from random classes I attended around town how to do the postures, I wasn’t quite comfortable in answering some of their questions. I also wanted to dive deeper in to the other yogic practices besides asana. So, after two years of fighting the negative thoughts in my head I decided to invest in my knowledge and self-care. While also learning to be able to help others as well in their yoga journey.

S.C. What was teacher training like for you?

J.H. It was beautiful! We created a family during the journey. The process was rigorous and comprehensive, but when I graduated, I felt that I had the tools necessary to begin teaching/introducing the yogic lifestyle to others.

B.L. Teacher training for me was intimidating at first, I hadn’t been in an education setting in 10 years. However, once we started, I began to look forward to our weekends and the interesting things we were learning. Each teacher training weekend was like a mini retreat.

S.C. What was your favorite part of teacher training?

J.H. Everything! Our books were mind and heart opening. We laughed A LOT. Cried some. Grew tremendously.

B.L. My favorite part was probably meeting everyone that was involved in the training, from the amazing teachers to the other students and the unbreakable bonds that were formed. Teacher training weekends felt like an oasis from the real-world drama. I will always cherish the weekends spent with people who are caring, inspiring, and interested in the same thing… yoga.

S.C. EHY’s motto is “Transform your life, awaken your spirit.” How does this relate to your experience in the 200-hour TT program?

J.H. Once you understand the yogic lifestyle, it can transform your life and awaken your spirit. EHY offers you this wisdom in a peaceful, loving and welcoming environment.

B.L. I believe that motto is spot on. I’ve grown a lot during the Teacher training. Even since I started yoga, I have seen my life transform for the better, and this teacher training helped me expand my practice from just asana to more of a spiritual practice.

S.C. At this point, do you have any plans to share what you learned at EHY as a teacher or otherwise?

J.H. I share this wisdom with anyone who is open to listening! I have also created a yoga program at a healing place called Soul Works.

B.L. At this moment I’m still working on the logistics of how being a yoga teacher looks in my life. I would love to in the future teach one on one or small group classes. However, until then I share what I learn on a daily basis with whoever wants to talk about Yoga.

S.C. Just for fun, is there a “fun fact” about yourself that you would like to share? Something not many people know about you?

J.H. I’m an open book! …. But… I created a class called Our Sacred Moon Dance, which teaches women to harness their innate wisdom through their menstrual cycles. We delve into our cyclical nature and learn tools to deepen our connection with our natural rhythms that mirror our Moon, Mother Earth and the archetypal goddesses that live in all of us. Look for the next class scheduled soon around town!

B.L. Umm… my Grandmother (mom’s mother) was Japanese so that makes me 1/4 Japanese.

Eternal Health Yoga’s 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program begins Friday, August 16. Please join D’Arci Freeland and myself, Shellie Crow, on Saturday, July 20 at 2pm for our teacher training information session.