My beautiful sister, Jes Kimak, made the decision to begin yoga teacher training. I asked if she would share her journey with my readers. Teacher training is an intense process of self-discovery. I thought it would be wonderful to show those interested in taking a training what it is like. And for those who have already been through it, we can relive the beauty and pain through her eyes.
Two days until I begin a journey that will change my life forever… whoah, hold those horses…that is a a lot of expectation for the next three months. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me introduce myself but in this introduction will also tell you my “yoga story” and how I found myself gearing up for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. It would be really cool if I could say I found yoga as I stumbled by a cave in India but the truth is I found yoga in high school in the form of MTV yoga DVD. With the “sick beats” and peppy instructor I flowed through my first ever vinyasa sequence in our spare bedroom, typically after an hour on the treadmill and 20 mins of weights. I did not have the healthiest relationship with my body at the time and found yoga as a means of exercise and not much more. My body was tired and the flow felt good to move in a different way. Through college the poses stuck in my mind and I would play around with them in my college dorm but had never gone to a true yoga class. While I was living in Thailand my junior year abroad, I went to my first ever hot yoga class. It was just about as hot inside as it was outside. I don’t remember anything about that class…except the 3 hour bus ride there and back. The teacher didn’t speak to my soul, the flow didn’t change my life but somehow I kept coming back to yoga.
When I moved to Denver after college for graduate school I knew I needed a self care routine, so I sought out yoga studios. It was expensive so I would only go every so often, but it was the first time I received instruction from a teacher. I was studying to be a social worker and knew that I needed something to ground me. I floated around from studio to studio as I moved neighborhoods in the city, trying to find good deals. There was only one teacher that I really remembered, although I didn’t remember her name. She gave me a good discount, she didn’t take yoga so seriously and one class when I was in a certain pose she came over felt my thumb and said “man, you are type A” just from feeling tension in my hands. “Damn” I was mad, how could this woman say something to me like that…although it was 200% true.
This took me a back that someone could know something about my personality from my body. I had no clue how my body was speaking to anyone, let alone hear it myself. I had zero ability to hear anything that my body was trying to communicate. One day during this studio hopping, I was in a packed class and ego got the best of me. I threw out my back from an old injury. I’m sure my body had told me to slow down before but I could not hear it until it was screaming at me. I hobbled out of the studio and did zero physical activity for about 6 months. I became depressed and lethargic.
Slowly I began a home practice that reintroduced myself to the feeling of safety in my body. I was invited to go to a studio with a friend for free, so we went to a gentle class. Later, I attended this friend’s graduation from training at the same studio. As I walked into the room to lay my mat down I heard a familiar voice. It was that teacher that had “seen” me over 3 years ago for the control freak I was. I started going to her classes once a week but still could not afford much more then that. My friend who had just graduated teacher training hooked me up with a trade for the studio where I would do photography for them and get a free membership. As I went to yoga more regularly, things started to happen. I felt excruciating heat and anger and frustration and finally after 29 years felt MY BODY. It was such an awakening to feel feelings! I started to feel the magic of yoga.
So why a teacher? Why not just keep practicing? Are you going to give up your day job and become a yoga teacher? These questions are hard for me. I do love that yoga is something for me. I am a social worker and my life is lived for others 98% of the time. Yoga was for me. And yoga will still be for me. But once you feel that magic you just can’t help but share it. I began with a training on how to teach kids yoga and then went to a trauma informed yoga training. I have begun to integrate yoga into my therapy practice with kids and families. It is another way to reach their hearts through their bodies. There is a different type of curiosity that comes out of practicing yoga. Something that just can’t be reached by talking. Our bodies speak a language and yoga is the translator. As my teacher was able to speak to my heart several years ago about needing to release control just by reading my body, I want to be able to teach other therapists how to connect in this way. And to connect with yoga teachers and help them understand what mental health issues they are really reaching to with their words. It is a beautiful form of medicine that I am so glad has reached across to the West. And I am sure there will be many more reasons why that I don’t even know yet.