Cozy Yoga Life by Shannon Caldwell

Cozy Yoga Life Ep01 My Yoga Journey: From Student to Teacher

January 01, 2024 Shannon Caldwell Season 1 Episode 1
Cozy Yoga Life by Shannon Caldwell
Cozy Yoga Life Ep01 My Yoga Journey: From Student to Teacher
Show Notes Transcript

Embark on a captivating voyage as I share the twists and turns of my 25-year yoga journey. From the awe-inspiring moments as a beginner on the mat to the fulfilling role of a teacher, and later, the proud ownership of a studio. Finally, landing in the cherished position of a devoted mentor to fellow instructors.

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You're listening to Cozy Yoga Live, the podcast for yoga teachers who crave more from their practice and lives. I'm Shannon Codwell, and I'll be your guide on this journey of simplicity, self care and self discovery. So let's cozy up, unwind, and dive into today's episode. Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down, and I'd like to take a minute, just sit right so, and I'll tell you how I became a yoga teacher all those years ago. My yoga journey started in the summer of 1998. At the time, I was a corporate trainer and developer, and I was traveling the U. S. providing all kinds of training. It was during a management training where I tasked the group to come up with some goals for the rest of the year and into the new year. As a trainer, I always felt like I never wanted to give any type of exercises that I wasn't willing to participate in myself. So when it came time to share our goals, I went first and I remember writing on the whiteboard that I wanted to give yoga a try I don't even know where that concept would have come into play. I just have that management meeting as like my first clear memory. Of wanting to try yoga now, fast forward, just a few months. And I was taking kickboxing classes at a martial arts studio in the North Dallas area. And one day I came across a flyer advertising yoga classes that were going to start up soon at the martial arts studio intrigued. I took the flyer with me and I showed up for the very first class. There were six of us and we had our mats around in a circle. I remember the teacher, she was this passionate, fiery, red headed woman, and she took us through, she took me through my very first yoga asana class. I remember a couple of postures, I remember doing some warrior postures, I remember Shavasana. but what really stuck with me was this feeling I had when it was all over. And I would like to say that it was a feeling of euphoria or of total peace and relaxation, but really the overriding feeling that I had was I was amazed I could work my body in such a way and never move off the mat or spend an hour pounding a punching bat. I immediately switched my membership from a kickboxing one to a yoga membership. And that is where my yoga journey began. So that was like 25, almost 26 years ago. And I'm thankful every day for putting it out into the universe and the universe answering me just a few months later. You would think that as a corporate trainer and someone who enjoyed aerobic activities that I might have become a fitness instructor at some point, but I never really had that calling until yoga. A few months into my journey as a student, I decided I really wanted to learn how to teach this. It was life changing to me, and I was starting to reap those other benefits of practicing yoga postures and breathing and Shavasana and I wanted to To pay that forward. I wanted to inspire like my yoga instructor had inspired me. Now, at the time, there were not yoga teacher training programs everywhere. There weren't even yoga studios like there are now I had to approach my teacher, my mentor, someone who was amazing at it, and ask her if she would be willing to teach me how to teach yoga to others. So one night after class, I went up to her and I told her, I said, Hey, I'm really loving everything. You might not know this, but I do corporate training and development outside. That's what I do for my day job, and I would love to learn how to teach yoga. I don't remember too much of what she said. I do remember this kind of long lecture feeling explanation that she was giving me. And in the back of my head, all of those Many of these doubts are running through it like she doesn't think I'm capable. She doesn't think I'd be a good teacher. She doesn't think this or that or whatever it may be. I remember after she kind of finished what felt like a really long lecture, probably only two or three minutes. I paused because I didn't hear a clear cut answer from her. Like, yes, I will teach you or no, I won't teach you. So I pulled up my big girl panties and I asked one more time. And I said, does that mean that you are going to teach me, that you're willing to take me on and show me how to be an instructor? And obviously she did because here I am today, still teaching yoga, still working with instructors. I started working with my mentor. Just a few weeks later. And there were two or three other ladies there who were also interested in learning how to teach. The way that she trained us, it was very casual, no less serious, but just a little bit more casual. We met once a week, and she would kind of go over some things with us and help us out. But really, it was more about kind of throwing us out there and then just letting us go. The way I learned yoga was in a very specific format. My teacher, she would record all of the yoga classes and they were recorded on CDs. Then the way that she wanted us as teachers to teach was she wanted that CD of her voice playing in the background. And then we would repeat what was happening on the CD, kind of an unusual way of going about it. But a lot of people enjoyed that approach because basically they had everything that they needed to say. They had an entire script front to back, top to bottom, and they just had to memorize four or five different classes and then they were golden. I was fine with that too, because I had no idea what I was doing it was my teacher's way of doing things. So if I wanted to teach yoga, that was the way I was going to have to do it. I didn't know any difference. So it was, it was all good. About 18 months later, my teacher moved from operating classes at the martial arts studio and opened up her own space, her own studio. Probably one of the first or maybe even second yoga studios ever in Dallas Fort Worth area. And I moved right along with her when she made this move. She also had some other transitions that she was working on testing out. And one of those was to allow the yoga teachers to teach on their own, to not have to follow the script, to not have to play the CD in the background. And at the time I jumped at the opportunity and. You know, to do a bit of a humble brag here. I was pretty good at it. I was able to walk into a room, sense the energy, ask what people were looking for. And then without following a script, be able to offer. And teach a well rounded, well structured yoga class. And I loved it this way. I loved having that freedom of walking into the class and teaching, not on the fly, but teaching in a way that allowed me to be present with them and to change up things if they needed to be changed. My mentor decided that she wanted to go back to the way that it had been done, which was her voice in all of the classes in the background. I was one of the few teachers that she allowed to continue to just do it on my own I was able to teach this way until I ended up moving, north into McKinney. When I moved, it just wasn't feasible to continue teaching and driving because it was 45 minutes away to get to the studio. Sadly, for me, I had to quit the teaching and I went back to kind of like aerobics and working out at the gym, but I really didn't like it. I was like, I miss my yoga. I want to do yoga. And my then boyfriend who shortly became my husband, he said, why don't you start your own yoga? I thought. That's great for everybody else. Everybody else will be able to get their yoga in, but that still leaves me without having a place for me to practice yoga. I did follow his advice I went to the local community center, talked to the manager and found a couple of spots on the schedule in which I could offer some yoga classes. Then we put together some marketing pieces that were going to be distributed around to neighborhoods. And the Day arrived of my first class in the McKinney community center. And I hoped like my teacher before me that I would have at least four or five, six people show up and be interested in taking yoga. I was pleasantly surprised. There was probably nine to 10 people that showed up to take yoga from me. There are probably about four or five ladies in that core group that I am still in contact with today, 20 something years later. That's something that you don't ever forget as a yoga teacher, those kind of connections, that kind of impact that you make on people. 20 years later, you would still be connected to them. You would still be interested in what's going on in their lives. After teaching in the community center, I then went on to add more classes at a dance studio. So I was providing yoga in two different places and filling up those classes on the schedule after about a year., it was then time for me to open up my own space to open up my first yoga studio. And that was a spree to yoga Besides being connected and engaging with the community and making friends and connections with so many incredible people was the fact that I had people driving from all over the area to come and take yoga. I had people coming from different outlying towns because I was the only place in the area that was offering yoga classes. Where my mentor was one of the first to offer yoga classes and open up a studio in the Dallas area, I was able to be one of the first people that offered yoga classes and opened the first yoga studio in the North Texas area. Now, obviously. 20 years later, there's a lot more yoga studios and people don't have to drive that far anymore to take yoga classes. It's one of those things that when you look back on it, it's really kind of a proud moment that, you know, that was something that I was able to accomplish. Just a few months into opening up my studio, the Esprit de Yoga in 2002, I wanted to get some more formalized training. Not that the training that I had had from my previous mentor was bad, I just wanted to extend my training. Training, extend my knowledge, keep learning to be able to keep offering new things and better things for my community. I Found a lady, not my mentor in Dallas who is offering a formalized yoga teacher training and I signed up for it and made the drive in and took a couple of classes and I was just, I was. Deeply disappointed, probably because I was not taking yoga from her, so I wasn't bought in to the way that she taught yoga and wanted her, the people under her to teach yoga. After a couple of times I, I ditched that training, I didn't finish it. But what happened was I returned home and looking at how. She had structured the training, which wasn't very structured at all. I was thinking to myself, I can do that and I think I can do it better. In the span of about six weeks, I put together a teacher training program. I relied heavily on my education in journalism and human resources. And of course, my experience as a corporate trainer prior to becoming into yoga. I used all of that combined with my passion for yoga. And that was when Purple Lotus Yoga was created. A few months after opening the doors one. I realized I couldn't teach all these classes myself because I was going to burn my candle out pretty quickly. In January 2003, I opened up. The very first yoga teacher training there in the North Texas area. I've had my fingers crossed for just a handful of people to sign up and join me. Happily, I had six that signed up to do yoga teacher training with me. And again, many of those participants from that very first session, I'm still in contact with. We still keep in contact. I still see what they're doing with their yoga lives, and they keep up with what I'm doing in my yoga life. At the time, yoga was growing in popularity, but not to the degree that It has caught on in the last few years, so when I put the teacher training together and I opened the doors and had this first few participants with me, I really thought that maybe after a couple of years. Max, I would teach all the people in the area that had any interest in teaching yoga. And then I would go on to do something else. I didn't think that Purple Lotus Yoga would live beyond a couple of years. So you can imagine my surprise, imagine my delight when Purple Lotus Yoga was something that I was able to do for 20 years from 2003 to 2023. It's quite an accomplishment to be able to to do something that you love and impact people for two decades. And, you know, along the way. Yoga dead increase in popularity yoga, the number of yoga studios increased the number of teacher trainings increased as well. So I wasn't the only one on the block anymore. I had competition all around me, although competition is a really strong word, especially when you, when you look at yoga as a whole, there really is enough for everybody to go around. I was able to sustain and keep going for 20 years, even when I wasn't the only studio or the only teacher training program around the pandemic really put a chokehold on what I was able to do with yoga teacher training. There was no such thing as in person training with the pandemic. Certainly it's never fun to lose a business or to lose, the security that was coming from your business. And that definitely was a negative that came from the pandemic on the positive side. I had been getting really burned out, you know, after 18, 19 years of providing teacher training and I was trying to figure out what was going to be my next step. What was I going to do next? I still wanted to be involved with yoga teachers. I still wanted to provide. Training and coaching and mentoring and education. I just wanted to do it in a different way. That slow demise of yoga teacher training gave me the opportunity to step back and do some introspection and find out, you know, what is it that I really want to do? What is it that I'm really being called to do? What is my encore career in yoga going to be? And the answer that unveiled itself had to do with working with yoga teachers in more of a lifestyle, Sharing the wisdom that I have gained over the last 20 years and putting that out there in a podcast format. And like that. First yoga class that I offered in the community center, then the classes that I offered at the dance studio, then into the classes that I offered in my own space, and then also into the first yoga teacher training program I provided, I hope that I will have people that show up and want to be a part of it. Something that I offer, so if that's you, I welcome you to the cozy yoga live podcast where I plan to share my wisdom and my thoughts and my feedback and just have open, honest and raw conversations about what it's been like to be a yoga teacher and a yoga teacher, trainer and educator. And now an author for the better part of almost two and a half decades. Thanks for listening cozy crew. And if you want to stick around for more, be sure to subscribe, leave a review and share with your other yoga teacher friends about this podcast. That wraps another soul nourishing episode of Cozy Yoga Life. As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your yoga journey. If you enjoyed today's authentic conversation, please subscribe, rate, and leave a review. Until next time, stay cozy, take care of yourself, and keep it real.