It is said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Upon reflection of the road I’ve traveled so far, I had no idea at the time how true these words would turn out to be.

As someone who grew up with emotional obstacles and low confidence, I learned at a very young age just how much power and responsibility a teacher holds. Unfortunately, my first lesson with this was a negative one. My first grade teacher imprinted scars that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. But luckily, I’ve had many wonderful and loving teachers since who helped clear the path and encouraged me to continue forward. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Shortly after moving to Florida, I decided I wanted to try yoga. This was an incredibly big leap for me at the time, since I was the kid who was always picked last in gym class. I remember being terrified walking into NUYU Yoga Studio in Ocala, FL. I was warmly welcomed in by owner and teacher, Lynda Geril, who I would practice with for three years before moving to North Port.

At the time, my confidence was so bad that I figured I’d try one class, feel embarrassed, and never want to return. As it turns out, Lynda’s carefree teaching style was exactly what my soul needed for that particular stage in my life. She had an unconventional teaching method—she took the full class along with us to experience everything the way that we did. Although this isn’t the style I would turn out to teach, or need later in life, it helped me to relax and feel as if we were in this together. Then a remarkable thing began to happen. I started to crave the mat, and I began to let go of insecurities, one at a time.

Fast forward to my move to North Port, I bounced around from studio to studio, feeling like Goldilocks. I had trouble finding a place where I felt the magic and the connection that I once had. Finding a teacher who truly resonates with you can be quite a challenge! Finally, I decided to expand my search to Punta Gorda, where I stumbled into The Yoga Sanctuary, and in a sense, never left.

The teachings and style at TYS are polar opposite to my first few years on the mat, but this was what my soul now needed. I had evolved so much as a person that I welcomed physical adjustments and the ability to learn proper alignment and to shake it off if I didn’t get it the first few dozen times around (if I got it at all). My teachers: Jennifer, Bonnie, Margit, and Melissa (to name a few) introduced to me a different and much more conventional way to learn, and from a place of compassion, humor, and lightness. Upon taking my first class here, and the initial shock of receiving my first adjustment, I wondered at first when the judgement would follow. But it never did. Instead I left feeling safe and secure, and welcome.

The irony that all those years later, after being traumatized by a teacher as a small child, that I would enroll in a teaching program for yoga makes me smile. I chose to let those early experiences teach me something instead of shut me down. With the help and guidance of Bonnie and Jennifer, I was exposed to positive role models, and all the hard work and soul baring they put into our teaching program helped shape us as emerging teachers, and give us the tools and confidence to begin a new chapter in our journey.

With that said, I have learned more as a teacher than I did as a student. I come to the mat as both, and I truly learn something from each of our wonderful students every single time we share class. It could be something obvious like outside knowledge, or just observing the way they settle into a pose. Everyone knows something we don’t, and it makes the world that much more interesting when we are open and receptive.

Whether it is by way of teacher or student, personal interaction, or through a book, DVD, or online, with teachers such as Kathryn Budig or Tara Stiles, I welcome the opportunity to keep on learning.

Even my husband Angel, who is a wonderful and passionate drum teacher, shares wisdom and inspiration with me. Although we teach two completely different activities that the other knows little about, we continue to grow closer through the love of teaching, and together we have made each other better teachers and better people.

Reflecting upon all the wonderful and selfless teachers (and students) who choose to share their wisdom and experience with me, whether academically or through the gift of music or yoga, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you!