Moving to a new city can be a daunting feat. New job, new home, new friends, new everything! In the hustle and bustle of re-locating, we often overlook one key component in our lives that can also be renewed: ourselves.
Now imagine changing not only cities or countries, but moving to a completely different continent. The list of "new" things can get quite long and your focus can shift so far from yourself and your own well-being that "you" can sometimes get lost too.
Lost is where I found myself when I moved to Istanbul, Turkey, a year ago. Home for me is Canada, and back home I thought I had it all figured out: a vegan diet, a healthy lifestyle, a steady yoga practice, you name it; I thought I had a great life and was genuinely happy.
Then suddenly there I was, in a country far far away where I did not speak the language, could not seem to find any of the foods I was used to, didn't seem to be able to lead the same lifestyle I was used to, and the list went on. Somehow amid the long list of "could not's," I lost sight of the most important thing I had in my control: myself and my outlook on life.
I have travelled all over the world and have been blessed to have seen countless beautiful sights and met some incredible people along the way. But not until I found myself in a city that seemed to scream it was contrary in every way to the image I had created for myself of who I really was that I truly found myself.
Amidst the chaos and fury of Istanbul, I let my physical and spiritual well-being slip through the cracks and found myself plunging deeper and deeper in to a dark hole. That is, until I came across a wonderful yoga studio that literally changed my life. I had thought about becoming a yoga teacher at some point in my life and then suddenly, there it was, an opportunity to begin a journey that would not only ground me spiritually, but change my perspective on life all together.
While this claim may seem a little outlandish to some, let me tell you how a yoga teacher training can give you meaning and purpose in life, regardless of the chaos surrounding you. In fact, the training I participated in has given me a whole new outlook on life, one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, wherever it may take me.
A teacher training can change your outlook on life in three distinct ways:
1. It will give you focus: When I was feeling lost, I had no choice but to focus on my homework, my readings and just plain learning. Whenever I had a doubt or a moment of sadness, it was suddenly filled with anatomy, yoga philosophy and asana. Eventually, these tasks became more of a lifestyle then a chore, and suddenly my life revolved around something other than my apparent discontentment or lack of enthusiasm for my new surroundings. I was able to focus on what was important to finish the course, but in turn it taught me how to focus on what really matters in life and to be thankful for the wealth of blessings I do have, not the ones I don’t.
2. It will give your perspective: By being so focused on the training and personal development, I was able take a big step back from my everyday dramas and take a deep breath. By taking this step back, I saw my life and my present situation for what it was: just another moment on my own personal journey. It allowed me to understand the impermanence of everything around me and to see the joy and beauty of what I had right in front of me. Of course, one day you may be feeling down, but that doesn’t mean that tomorrow won’t be different. All we ever have is this present moment – being attached to past disappointments or future fears does not serve you; being present and grounded in the now suddenly lightens the burdens you may bear.
3. It will teach you how to share with others: During the four months I participated in the teacher training program, I came to know many new people. Yet, I was not able to share my secret unhappiness with them until the final weekend of our course. What I found after sharing this "secret" with them was that they were there to support me and had in fact been supporting me all along. Opening my heart to these people who I once knew as strangers was in fact quite liberating and reminded me that we are all facing our own personal battles, but that internalizing them is not always the solution - branching out and opening our hearts to others is often all we need to set ourselves free of the heavy burdens we carry with us. As yoga teachers, we are blessed with the opportunity of sharing our own battles with students and in turn teaching them how to surmount a difficult situation.
The teacher training taught me these three things and has have given me a whole new outlook on life. I am now better equipped as a person to face life’s ups and downs – be it a move halfway across the planet or a bad day at work. Quite frankly, these three tools are simple and extremely effective: they will help you live a successful and joy-filled life. All it took for me to uncover these secrets and apply them to my life was a small investment in a teacher training program. It changed my life, and I hope you will give one the chance to change yours.