Right around the time Steve Jobs told the 2005 graduating class at Stanford University to follow their hearts and intuition, I followed my heart straight into yoga teacher training…and the voices of many others straight into law school.
I had been practicing yoga for as long as I could remember. While I did not know it at the time, the intense workouts my childhood gymnastics and ballet teachers demanded of me traced back to the practice of yoga; in high school, I dropped in on a yoga class and realized the connection.
A college athlete, I continued to practice yoga as a means of winding down and stretching. I knew it made me feel good, but that didn’t stop me from also engaging in lots of activities that did not make me feel so great. I will skip the specifics and just call my senior year of college and the first couple of years afterwards a delayed expression of teenage angst and a very dark time in my life.
Luckily, I had yoga to pull me out of that…and I also had supportive parents (who I THOUGHT I was fooling into thinking I was on the right track) who agreed to pay for a yoga teacher training out of desperation to get me back on the “right track” and into law school. I don’t know quite what made me sign up for the yoga training other than, again, knowing that yoga made me feel good physically…and, that was a start to feeling better than I was feeling at the time. In yoga teacher training, I finally realized that a regular power yoga practice not only made me stronger, more flexible, and able to fit into my skinny jeans, but it also could transform how I handled life’s challenges off the mat.
Still, a voice in my head told me teaching yoga was not a viable career option, especially since I was fortunate enough to be getting a law degree and opportunities to “really” make a difference. So, I worked hard to be successful at both law and yoga, becoming an elected-judge by age 30, while also working as an attorney and leading popular yoga classes, programs, and teacher-trainings.
At the height of my insanity, I was commuting from Washington, DC to NY every other weekend to serve as the local justice and criminal court judge in my hometown on Monday night, waking up at 2:30 am Tuesday morning to drive to the airport and fly to DC, working all day as a Federal government ethics attorney, and THEN leading a three-hour yoga teacher training session that night….all before waking up at 4:50 am to hustle to teach my 6:00 am yoga sculpt class on Wednesday morning. As you can imagine, I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted.
But, I knew that I had to share this amazing tool, that had probably saved my life, with others. And, I knew that I could help others to effectively teach that tool to others, spreading the gift of yoga. So, I kept on teaching, kept on lawyering…and kept on being exhausted.
Choosing to leave the comfort of my 9-5 was not an easy decision. And, to be honest, all of the yoga in the world did not lead me to it. (It led me to talking about it but not to actually taking the leap.) . My husband literally had to move our family to a place where I had no legal opportunities (unless I wanted to take the Florida Bar) and my lawyer bosses and I had to exhaust every opportunity for me to continue to work from home in order for me to finally make the transition to living my purpose and passion “full-time.”
When I become overwhelmed with my decision to follow my heart (and believe me, I still do) and start to hear the voices of others in my head (things like: “you are a professional,” “a lawyer can provide for her family, a yoga teacher, not so much,” “yoga is a nice hobby”), I come back to my personal yoga practice and find that, almost like magic, my internal voice begins to thrive and my direction becomes clear. My hope, in training others to teach yoga, is to empower others to tap into their heart and intuition in a similar way and realize their happiest and healthiest selves…and then go and spread that gift to as many people as they can!