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Yoga Teacher Training: Why Here, Why Now?

Last Thursday I flew to Santa Monica, California to begin the first weekend of a six-month, 200-hour yoga teacher training.

As I sat in the opening circle with 20 yoga teacher trainees, we began the process of getting to know each another. We were asked to share our name and answer the question, “Why here? Why now?”

When it came time for me to share, I said, “After meeting Hala Khouri and her work in 2012 at the Off The Mat Into The World Training, I knew I wanted to study more of what she taught.”

Hala is a yoga teacher and somatic experiencing therapist– a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. A multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics.

Since meeting Hala five years ago, I’ve taken her online Yoga For Self-Regulation and Trauma course and her weekend Trauma Informed Yoga training. With the work I’m doing personally and professionally, the timing is right for me to now commit to this six-month teacher training program. Hala has been instrumental in helping me learn, understand, teach and coach others on the principles of discharging stress and building resiliency in the body.

[Video] Five Ways Yoga Can Manage Stress and Trauma with Hala Khouri

Hala is not the only teacher in our teacher training. Jay Fields and Julian Walker bring their expertise to us as well.

Jay has a degree in kinesiology and teaches us the nuts and bolts of anatomy and shares her wisdom through Teaching People, Not Poses – 12 Principles For Teaching Yoga With Integrity and Home in Your Body – 28 Days Of Yoga To Bring You Home To Your Body & To A Life That’s Yours.

During our Friday session, we talked about common stereotypes and perceptions of yoga teachers. This is what our group came up with:

  • Young
  • Hot
  • White
  • Sexy
  • Woo-woo
  • Enlightened
  • Flexible
  • Guru
  • Nature-y
  • Metaphysical
  • Occult
  • Vegetarian

We then defined what drew us to this program:

“To be radically present in our own lives in order to develop a deep knowledge of how the body works with the mind.”

This teacher training is heavily focused on the psychology, neurology and contemplative practice of neuroplasticity.

We focus on stability in order to build flexibility. This is as much a metaphor for living life as it for the physical focus of this training. Achieving the “perfect pose” or wearing the cute yoga outfit isn’t the virtue or value that motivated me to fly to LA to study with Hala, Jay and Julian for six months.

Jay Fields (pictured below), who led us through the stereotype discussion, doesn’t teach inversions – headstands or handstands – which is good news for me; because I don’t do headstands or handstands and I have no interest in teaching others how to stand on their head. Jay rides her motorcycle and says, “There’s juice in the mistakes. There’s intimacy in the vulnerability. There’s sacredness in the profane. And teaching is in your presence, not your performance.

So don’t take it all so seriously.”

Image result for jay fields

Julian Walker then integrates the neuroscience into our training. As we notice the cycles of activation and then calm, we learn how to reset our own nervous systems. Julian brings in the research of Peter Levine and Rick Hanson to teach these evidence-based concepts.

He teaches us to notice the physical and emotional patterns of tension held in the body without mentally running away or intellectually explaining things away. The fight, flight or freeze mechanism will be explored extensively throughout our training.

On Sunday we talked about spiritual bypassing – a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984. Spiritual bypassing is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.

Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, debilitating judgement about one’s negatively or shadow side, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.


I love this comprehensive, practical training on self-regulation (managing your own nervous system state) and discharging stress through the latest contemplative studies and neuroscience.

“As we become more grounded, oriented, and resourced, we become more resilient, responsive, fluid and stable human beings.” excerpt from the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind teacher training manual.

I’ll go back to LA for the second weekend of training in February and I’ll be weaving these amazing practical resources into my teaching and coaching more and more as the year goes on. Stay tuned!

Note: If you live in Colorado and would like to be part of my Yoga For Stress Reduction practice group, please let me know – jolene@healthydiscoveries.com

My class is open to both men and women and all religious, political and lifestyle beliefs. Maybe you’ve have never done yoga before or you have a regular practice, either way, my class will offer you useful resources to calm your central nervous system.

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