Getting Started… Part 2

Written by Teresa Phelps Martin

On May 29, 2012

If you read the post prior, you know I am back tracking…but I realize this is an important piece in the story.

If you are just joining me, please read the previous post after reading this one.

Before I began teaching yoga, I had been practicing for sometime. My first class a semester long college class that introduces yoga (ironically I could be teaching this class at CofC in the fall). Then off to San Francisco where there were amazing teachers, some of whom I later studied under, but I stuck to the YMCA Yoga. Then I headed further west to New Zealand.

Living in New Zealand I got to deal with quite a bit of my own ‘stuff’ and there were some really tough/rough days. I felt alone and isolated, no one’s fault but my own. To process all this stuff, I would do yoga, what I could remember, and it always expanded my limited view of myself at the time.

I met a group of people that were practicing Mysore together (a self lead practice that builds strength, focus and discipline). Funny because I really didn’t know about different styles. I knew I liked more fluidity and not lots of props. I enjoyed poses that challenged me but also all the poses that helped me balance. I didn’t like a lot of conversation, but I did enjoy insight and inquiry. But when I was in New Zealand, I took any yoga I could get.

A few people had just returned from India to learn how to teach or shall I say deepening their understanding of their practice in order to share with others. On one level, I thought, wow – cool – India. When I was there with my dad, we didn’t do any yoga. But I also remember practicing after hearing the news and being jealous…I want to go back to India…for yoga! How come they have this opportunity and I don’t. In my frustration, feeling like I missed out on something big, I went home and decided I’d rather practice alone.

I was so blinded by envy that I didn’t want to be part of the group, to practice with people who were doing something really great.  Yoga in India was way cooler than yoga in New Zealand. Then during one practice over looking Queenstown, the majestic mountains, the beautiful lake, people paragliding off the cliffs edge passing my flat’s window, I smiled because I realized what I had, and the fortunate opportunity that I was living and all that sat before me. My perspective shifted. I got excited for the people who were able to go to India, they made me realize I can go back to India.  I could go to India and become a yoga teacher. I could teach yoga, I could help people feel the way yoga made me feel. India – here I come! I’m gonna be a yoga teacher!!!! I started planning my next adventure – INDIA!

One morning September morning I received a text (New Zealand was texting long before the US). The message, vaguely conveyed terrorism in the US. What? In New Zealand, you live in the future, that is, you are 18 hours ahead of the East Cost. So while we were all sleeping, the world, as I knew it changed. We still traveled and watched the simple ways of New Zealand become a little more complex. I still did the yoga I knew to help process and lived up the last weeks of living abroad.

When I returned to the quiet USA, (almost eerie, as if life had come to a screeching halt) I searched high and low for yoga. I traveled back and forth between Charleston, SC & Lexington, KY, taking classes in Winchester KY and searching for a teacher training program trying to decide what kind of style I liked. The two teachers I liked in KY, well they both had studied with John Friend. They were both enjoying a little flow blending alignment with poetry of the heart. Neither of them though were doing a teacher training nor did either of them want to completely align with Anusara at the time.  (I can still hear one of them teaching the inner thighs flowing back like a waterfall, and I think I even use that line to this day). I looked at Holy Cow’s training in Charleston, Yoga East in Louisville. Both were spread over a period of time, and I didn’t live in either place full time. Then on a visit to Costa Rica I found myself in Nosara, a remote beach town with a Yoga Institute.

Traveling with my sisters, they surprised me on my birthday with a class. The class was dynamic and moved my body and heart in a way that I knew this was going to be my home for my Teacher Training. I thought about just staying there, finding the money somehow, and starting the teaching journey in July. Instead I headed back to KY to announce my plan to my family and finding the money to return in 5 weeks.

Once home I was focused. Committed to helping my brother on the farm and tending to the 1400 trees we had planted. I would work hard and save hard. Driving home from the farm, Paris to Lexington, somebody turned their 3/4 ton pick up truck into the driver’s side of my car. The impact nearly killed me, or maybe it did and I some how survived. While I was in the emergency room the doctors racing in and out, x-rays, cat scans, iodine tests, they finally asked me – what do you do? I smiled on the inside and said – YOGA. They told me it isn’t just my age that allowed me to survive, but that the yoga saved my life. However I was going to be in quite some pain for some time. The pain slowed me down. One doctor even told me I was just going to have to live with it. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to Costa Rica in a month.

However, with help of an amazing Osteopath, patience, a lot of yoga, and a job working the KY production Seabiscuit, I was able to get healthy enough and make money to travel to Nosara in January 2003 to become an Interdisciplinary Hatha Yoga teacher. Yes, I asked my doctors if it was ok to go to Costa Rica and do yoga, they all told me as long as I didn’t push myself. My journey as a yoga teacher was about to get started…

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1 Comment

  1. Greg Moore

    Thank you so much for sharing, it really resonates to one’s heart. I no longer question my move to San Francisco but rather see it as an opportunity/part of the learning process. Many of the Anusara teachers out here have been shaken to their core, but now speak of hope & insight from the experience of the last few months. I guess we are all challenged at some point in our lives, it is just a matter of how one accepts that into their life. Look forward to the rest of the story.


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