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My Yoga Teacher Training: Week Two

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More To Love teaches plus size women how to learn body-acceptance and end dieting for good. 

My Yoga Teacher Training: Week Two

Rachel Estapa

I’m now half-way through my yoga teacher training…what a week!

The week began slowly, after an amazingly relaxing Saturday spent with my new circle of friends, Sunday felt like a hang-over of happiness and exhaustion. My body felt tired, a bit achey, and my spirits felt subdued. 

I let the feelings linger because I wanted to explore this contrasting feeling of both joy and sadness. What was it about? The feeling came and went, as often they do. 

My birthday was on Tuesday, June 9, and I turned 31. I was feeling lonely because I wasn’t with my family or husband, but I was also happy because it was a personal goal of mine to spend my b-day at Kripalu. Something about the personal reflection on a birthday called to me. 

Early in the day, my teacher called me up to the stage and led the WHOLE class - 60 students - to sing me Happy Birthday! She then asked me to invoke an intention to guide me into this new year. I responded with:

“I, Rachel, follow my heart and accept all the joy in which that brings.” 

Then the class, with hands extended out to me, repeated it back three-times. It was a perfect birthday gift.

Oh, and I also got a hot-stone massage from the Healing Arts department here - that was my special b-day treat :) 

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but sometime around Wednesday I had a flash: I’m a yoga teacher! I now see how poses build, how the experience of the student is the focus, and how to create space so people can discover themselves while feeling safe and cared for.

On Thursday, we had our first big time to teach a group and I had to create a 45 minute class and lead it, seamlessly. I was scared, but also really excited. I love to teach, so I pulled in a sense of confidence and calm as best I could — but of course I was nervous! 

The teaching went well - the one theme everyone picked up on, including the mentor for the group, was my confidence and passion. They all said it was a strong trait of mine and I was humbled. 

This week physically I was tested - my back was starting to hurt due to MANY MANY forward fold practices, but I listened to my body and responded with kindness and rest when needed. I was really glad my hip/back pain didn’t intensify — I think I've learned how to manage it better, thankfully. 

But the highlight of the week happened on Friday night. I was about to go to bed early, but then I saw in the expansive night sky lightning and my heart leapt — a thunderstorm! I raced outside to the great lawn to watch the strikes in the sky, no rain at all, and I heard not too far away the sound of a guitar and a few singers. 

I walked down, curious who it was, and it was a few people in my class. I joined in singing folk songs, hymns, jamming-out to harmonic music as the night sky lit-up with light and beauty. It was beyond magical and special - it was the event I wished in my heart would happen while here.

I grew up singing and for 20 years, it was a staple of my life. But I let it go when my life got busy with others things, only resigned to singing in small bursts in my home or with the radio. My heart aches for singing to come back into my life in a new way, and with yoga, I think I’ve found a path to return back to my voice.

As more of an audience grew and joined into our songs, the sky then opened up in a flood of rain and soaked us all — a few even returned to dance and play in the rain. Kripalu has this invigorating effect of courage to live life to the fullest, in the moment. 

Today is Saturday and the plan is to spend it with my close circle of friends I’ve made and celebrate one of their birthdays. I feel blessed to have a tight cluster of people who are inspiring, funny, kind, and value the life-long practice of self-discovery. 

This week for me was about yoga off the mat - the interconnected relationship of ideas, acts , people, and my own personal experience in self-care and compassion.