“You’re a yoga teacher, gospel preacher.”
Those were the words spoken to us during our ‘graduation’ on our final night of immersion week as part of our 225 hour Holy Yoga teacher certification. Before that declaration was a stream of words spoken by one of our leaders that only God knew would reach the depths of each of our hearts as the words articulated the truths we most needed to hear, the encouragement to stay the path once returning home, and the confidence to stand in the truth of who we are even when we so often forget. Each member of my small group had a different divinely inspired word spoke over them and mine was just as special and unique as each of the others…
A few other words were spoken then came the one… accepted.
The very first night at Bible with the creator of Holy Yoga, Brooke, we took time to think of a word God had for us. There were a few words and phrases that came to mind, but when we got back to our room and our small group leaders gave us envelopes and instructed us to write our word on it then put the envelope away, I quickly wrote the first word that came to mind then put the envelope into my bag. I didn’t think much of it until that final night when the word accepted was said. That was the word I wrote on my envelope. As it turns out, God works in amazing ways.
I had wanted to take my yoga teacher training pretty much since I started doing yoga. I can recall many times in the past few years I looked up various teacher training schools in gorgeous destinations far away from where my everyday life is. In April of 2017, I had posted on Instagram that I was looking into doing my teacher training and asked for suggestions. An acquaintance mentioned that one of her good friends was taking her yoga training through an online program called Holy Yoga that combines the Christian faith with yoga. I asked for more information, looked at the website, and never signed up. That small Instagram interaction planted a seed and almost two years later, here we are.
I find it’s hard to describe to people exactly how an experience was so life-changing. You tell people it was life-changing or ‘the best experience of your life’ but no one really understands… except those women in your small group that made you feel accepted, loved and encouraged you every day to be ‘all in’. They understand and for that bond I know I will be forever grateful.
The 7 weeks leading up to immersion week were…well… intense. On top of working 44 hours a week, yoga teacher training was an additional 16. Add in your regular commitments and, looking back, I honestly don’t know how I got it all in. Prior to immersion week, I had been feeling like I wasn’t getting the most out of my experience– that it was rushed, that I was too busy, that I wasn’t diving as deep into the Bible study and meditation as I would have liked to be. I was feeling like I wasn’t soaking up every moment for what it was worth and I questioned how immersion was going to go.
Were my wrist and arm going to be okay?
Was I prepared for student teaching?
Was I going to make friends (because being 30 doesn’t mean you don’t think that)?
Would I function well off limited sleep?
Am I prepared?
All sorts of doubts came creeping in and as I got a rushed passport, borrowed my brothers vehicle, and drove down to Detroit Lakes, I blared the worship music in my car (and, ya know, BSB) and did a whole lot of praying for the experience to be what God wanted it to be for me.
‘The most transformational experience of my life’. Well, it appears God had big plans.
While many moments stood out there are a few I want to share that were powerful.
The very first night we had a yoga class and were provided with wooden ‘coins’. One side had a heart and the other had the Holy Yoga logo. If we wanted touch during class you simply placed the coin heart up so the incredible leaders (who were all master Holy Yoga instructors) could love on you. Aside from adjustments during class and the odd foot massage and other a few other small touch moments throughout my 3 years of yoga classes, I had never experienced someone really ‘loving on me’ during class. I thought ‘sure! Bring on the new experiences!’ and placed my coin heart-up at the top of my mat. In a child’s pose, I felt someone gently lift my hands and place them palm up. They began to gently massage my palms and wrists for probably no more than 10 seconds and tears began to hit my yoga mat. Every fear that my wrist wouldn’t be able to handle the week melted away and it felt like God was there, in that very moment, demonstrating that He was there and He was with me.
Speaking of crying…
If you know me, you probably know that I self-proclaim myself to be ‘not a crier.’ I mostly tear up during moments of worship when a line of a song just hits me and I can’t really contain myself. Welcome to the entire immersion week.
One word. Worship. Worship is more than just singing with your eyes closed and arms in the air. Experiential worship is an embodied experience that takes everything you are and uses it to worship the one who made you. While the entire week was basically one big worship experience, the set times of singing praise and worship was something I will never forget. I will never forget how loud our voices were. How all of us singing together, fearlessly declaring the Truth was freeing and energizing. To be in a room full of people holding nothing back, singing with all their hearts and with their voices ringing loud was incredible and empowering.
Since I had never actually attended a Holy Yoga class before attending, I was under the impression it was just like any other yoga class, except instead of reading poetry or yoga sutras it was reading scripture and talking about God while worship music played in the background. And while that is true, the part I wasn’t expecting was when Brooke declared our first night that ‘you are either breathing or singing’. Singing? As the voices lifted around me and we kneeled in a modified crescent with our arms in the air I thought ‘this is for me. This is where I should be.’ I’ve never felt more in the right place.
It was a week of intentionality, of being present, of long days and short nights and being completely engulfed in the safety of a community of believers who were there to become yoga teachers, gospel preachers. I took more notes during a Bible study than I ever have before, I sang so loud and didn’t care who heard me, I cried all the tears all the time, I danced, I bonded with my small group and allowed myself to be ‘all in’ and steeped in the experience.
Oh, and I learned how to teach yoga, too.
I could go on forever about all the small moments that left a big impact during not only my immersion week but my entire teacher training. I could talk your ear off about it and, anyone who has let me talk for more than 5 minutes about it knows that I easily could. They say during the training that if you never teach a class in your life, the training is worth it for the work you put into your relationship with God during the 225 hours. I left there thinking ‘I could never teach a class and it was worth it.’… but I ever grateful I do have the opportunity to teach and truly step into the truth declared over me that I am a yoga teacher, gospel preacher.
If you’re interested in learning more about Holy Yoga, I would absolutely love to chat with you! Email me email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Instagram to see when and where Holy Yoga classes will be.
Beautifully written Aelea! You have such a big heart for God and it’s evident in all the things you devote yourself to. You are such a talented lady, so glad you found a yoga “niche” where you can combine your passions as one💗
Oh sister! We are SO glad you are part of this amazing family!!! Welcome. Welcome. I was there but in Work Crew and it was worth it too! May God bless you as He uses your fire to kindle others’.
What a lovely idea and purpose that God has for you and we are lucky to read this blog.
Sherrie Ranee Tyler (Sacramento California)
http://www.s-h-e-r. com. Website
So beautifully written! And the perfect description of my Holy Yoga immersion as well. All the tears. All the laughs. All the low. All the Jesus. And great yoga! Welcome to the family.
Thank you for sharing this and capturing all the details. It brought me back to the memories of my training back in 2015 and also grounded me in knowing how blessed we all are to be part of this ministry and that we are all “accepted”. He also did wonders for me and transformed me as part of my retreat experience. Loved reading this. Thank you, again!
Holy Spirit chills…tears in my eyes…you have captured what I and so many hundreds of other Holy Yoga instructors experience during Immersion week. Thank you for sharing your heart Aelea. I hope that our paths will cross one day. Hugs and welcome to the family. ❤️ – Diane
This brings back vivid memories of my own immersion retreat in October 2017. The fear, doubt, and anxiety leading up, and the absolute freedom and connection with the Divine through everything. The stories of the people that are now so dear to my heart. The tears and the release.
I wasn’t there this time but I love you so much sister and I’m so grateful to have heard your heart today. Sending love! Namaste
I’d been watching, listening, waiting 10 yrs. to do this❤️. Finally completed it this November. Indeed a dream beyond my wildest dreams. The best part is being able to weave the Word of God, which I love❤️❤️❤️❤️ With the practice. So surprised by the Joy that accompanies the journey.
Yes yes and yes! You shared this beautifully. Even though my immersion training was two years ago, every word rang true. Worshipping while doing yoga, yes! A worthwhile investment even if I never taught a class, yes! I remember walking in to that first huge class and watch people roll their mats out, hearing people talk about Jesus and kombucha and I felt like I was finally home 😆 Theses were my people! This is where I fit. Our small group had every age, demographic, heritage, and yet we connected
Oh holy YES and amen. Thank you for sharing…so beautiful.
Welcome to the family! Christ is in our midst!! Beautifully written and presented.