• Barbara Newman

What RYT 500 Means to Me

Nearly a year ago, I decided to continue my yoga studies and began Advanced 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. Having completed my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training in August 2017, I felt comfortable teaching my classes, but something was missing. I wanted to delve deeper into the ancient yoga teachings. Little did I realize the 300 Hour Training was diving deeper into oneself. In addition I wanted to learn more about the obvious- giving step by step pose directions, explaining the muscles used, sequencing the flow of poses and coordinating breath and movement. Being a yoga teacher requires authenticity, knowing yourself so you can teach from the heart, sharing your message with those who respond to not only your vocal voice, but your yoga message “voice.” Yes, it’s knowing how to explain the sun salutations, a tree pose, downward dog, but most of teaching is about sharing a piece of yourself with other yogis. In order to do this, you need to open the door to your own self, your wholeness, your heart. You have to be ready to release what no longer serves you, create space for the new, live your life as though practicing yoga- breathing, pausing, witnessing, moving forward, reflecting, connecting with yourself and connecting with others.

My training was progressing swimmingly until COVID-19 halted in person classes. As people were trying to figure out how to live in a lockdown, I dove into the readings from ancient yogis. I focused on what life meant to me, how my journey related to the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient story with strong life lessons. There I was learning about using my breath to flow through poses, move through life, and there wasn’t time to be anxious about the novel virus. I knew I had to wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from others, and not go into crowds. I spent my days reading, outlining, studying, and practicing yoga for classes. After a month into the lockdown, I began to teach virtually. Part of my training was to have a seva project, which is a selfless charitable project to help others. I could no long go to the school where I was teaching yoga to special needs students. After a conversation with my yogi sister, I decided to offer virtual classes to her, her friends and that grew to including my yogi friends and more yogi family. At first it was strange talking to my laptop on the floor and looking at boxes on the screen as yogis moved on their mats. However, I felt the energy of these yogis and quickly realized this was similar to teaching in person. It was reassuring to meet twice a week online with like-minded souls to practice yoga, especially at the start of the pandemic. I knew if I saw arms raised when I said, “Inhale your arms up” that people were responding. I knew at the end of class following savasana or meditation that the smiles I saw in the boxes revealed the benefits these yogis derived from the practice of yoga.

In time the 300 Hour Teacher Training continued virtually. After several months, we met in person staying at a distance. I learned that life is full of surprises. This training and the yoga teachings taught me how to meet and greet the unexpected, to say thank you for the lessons learned and move forward. What a good recipe for life.

The advanced training guided me to find my authentic yoga voice. My mission is to guide individuals to uncover the physical, mental and spiritual (if open to it) benefits of yoga, breath, movement, flow, and meditation at their level on and off the mat. It’s taking a peek inside, looking inward to the self and opening the door to the peace and calm in life. Practicing yoga gives me the peace and calm I need in my life.

After completing my 200 Hour Training and then my 300 Hour Training, I now have the designation of RYT 500, Registered Yoga Teacher 500. Being an RYT 500 is knowing I’m on a journey of the heart and will continue to be on one as long as I am breathing. Continuing my studies, practicing yoga and sharing the gift of yoga with others are part of my daily life. It’s how I find my way to live peacefully, even in times of chaos.

Barbara Newman 8/26/2020

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