From Trainee-to-Teacher
15 Certified Instructors Share their Stories

“My yoga journey was originally a healing tool after my accident.”

Jade Stott (Pembrokeshire, UK)

Old injuries? Oh I know that journey too well… and the frustrations and breakthroughs that come with it. In 2012 after a pretty severe horse riding accident and after spending months working with my rehab physios, they suggested I took to improving my yoga practice with actual yoga teachers guiding me mindfully to strengthen my body.

Later that year I was standing on my mat, better balanced, looking into the studio mirror to see how well my body was healing and becoming stronger through the help of regular yoga practice.

My yoga journey was originally a healing tool after my accident. My ambition was to improve my injuries but it positively transformed so much more, my body and mind took a complete turn and I knew I would have to teach this in my future.

Through personal experience and witnessing positive physical change in others, it is my absolute passion to teach and continuously learn how yoga affects our bodies, mind, and fitness goals.

After years of dedicated practice and experiencing first-hand the healing power of yoga, I went on to study and gain my teaching qualification through Lucas Rockwood at his YOGABODY® college studios in Barcelona.

For me it’s about consistency, not complexity. I teach as I practice, encouraging students to feel and find better alignment personal to them. It’s about what a pose feels like, what benefits it is giving and not about how complex it looks.

Being part of a student’s yoga journey is so rewarding, whether their goal is to touch their toes again, loosen up tight back/shoulders/hips or to simply allow themselves some fun, undisturbed time on their mat—I’m there for them!

“I began to feel the atmosphere of a yoga studio helped my anxiety.”

Cayman Davis (Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia)

My grandpa passed away last February. Fortunately, it was the first time anyone close to me passed but since it was, it was a real reality check. I lost someone so important to me and while in Sweden so the guilt and grief was in full effect.

About a week after my grandpa had passed, I got back to Sweden and had an anxiety attack that put me in the hospital. I had never had anxiety in my life. Never. So you can imagine how that would be confusing for a person. This became my reality. The uncomfortableness, the no sleeping, the gasps for air.

I was this outgoing care-free girl and before I knew it, I was clinging to my bedside 24/7. I began to move farther and farther away from myself. I stopped hanging out with my friends. I gave up a lot of things that I liked because they triggered it. I stopped wanting to do anything out of fear.

I was so exhausted and desperate for it to end but nothing would help. I saw counselors, doctors, even energy healers. It felt like all the good parts of me were gone. I was doing a lot of yoga via YouTube during this time but it didn’t have the same effect.

It wasn’t until I met this yoga teacher through Instagram who was teaching a class in Stockholm. Her story was very similar to mine, so I felt very connected.

I balled my eyes out the very first class but something was different about it. It was the first time in a long time I actually had hope. I went every week she had a class. And then I began to feel the atmosphere of a yoga studio helped my anxiety so I spent a lot of my days in them.

It took me a while to really get the hang of it but yoga became my healing tool and I would go as often as I could. Now I go five days a week and practice at home the other two. I have to practice. It’s the thing that keeps me sane.

I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for yoga. All I want to do is help people feel the same.

“I have always worked in education sectors and after a health crisis, I started to practice yoga.”

Helena Milian (Barcelona, Spain)

One of the happiest moments of my life was when I got to teach my first yoga class. I will never forget that moment. But, overall, the highlight of my trip was the people that I met. Now I have friends and contacts around the world.

I’m from Barcelona (currently living in Ibiza) and what brought me back was that I could do the Yoga Teachers College course and get a diploma in English.

That has been my biggest improvement. Being able to teach a class in English.

I have always worked in education sectors and after a health crisis, I started to practice yoga. I decided that I wanted to dedicate my life to sharing all the benefits that yoga has for our body and mind with everyone.

If I had never stepped foot in a yoga class, I would be working in an office seated 8 hours a day in front of the computer. I feel very happy about the change. Now I’m sharing my time with other people and I’m helping them to find their way.

Everyone around me has a very good vision of how much yoga can help us. They are very conscious of all the benefits of yoga. So my biggest remaining goal is to create a yoga studio where I can teach yoga for kids. I think it’s very important to start practicing yoga at a young age.

“I’m very proud to become a yoga teacher in my mid-forties.”

Eduardo Peixoto (Braga, Portugal)

My high school gym teachers always struggled to get me interested in sports. I just wanted to learn and expand my intellectual horizons. Nerd? Yes!

However, growing up, I came to understand and feel that body and mind are happier when they can develop together. I’ve tried many physical activities since then, like fitness, weights, swimming, running. But in yoga, I feel both my mind and body are challenged equally.

I remember my first yoga class very well, though it was some 14 years ago. I was at my usual health club for a lunchtime workout, but I had had a bad night’s sleep, so I decided to go for a relaxing yoga class instead of my normal cardio group class. Yes, it was a big misconception. The class was hard and physically demanding but somehow gave me the energy boost I needed. Needless to say, I became a fan.

Yoga is quite popular at high-end health clubs and lately, simple yoga studios have appeared everywhere too. People in my hometown tend to see yoga as a stress relief activity for already ‘zen’ and flexible people and this is a limiting factor in attracting new people such as sports practitioners looking for a cross-training opportunity or just the everyday person taking care of their mobility and posture.

I usually say to them that we do stretching, but on top of developing balance and strength in the core, legs, shoulders, back, and arms. I then invite them to try it out and see it as a full mind-body workout.

I am very proud to become a yoga teacher in my mid-forties and to do it for my pleasure and well-being. It’s hard to explain, but yoga has helped me to see myself as a wholesome mind-body system. It helps me build patience and kindness with myself, and understand that anything can be achieved step by step with consistent practice.

“The community of people I have met has been the highlight of my trip!”

Elena Acuna (Little Silver, New Jersey)

I wanted a training that would push me outside of my comfort zone—new country, teachers, and people! The community of people I have met has been the highlight of my trip! It has been a gift to meet so many yogis who inspire me to keep growing in my practice and in my day-to-day life.

Yoga has helped me approach situations in my life with more patience and understanding. Much like when I’m trying to go deeper into a pose, if I find myself stressed, I think to myself, ‘Breathe into it and let the tension go.’

Yoga is about using the physical asana practice as a means to first connect with your physical body so you can then connect with your true inner self and all beings around you.

The best piece of advice a yoga instructor has given me: Let the pose come to you; don’t force it. For beginners and people who have been practicing for years, every day the poses feel different, so don’t judge yourself for not being able to go as deep as yesterday. Wherever you are today is the place you’re supposed to be. I think this is great advice for life off the mat too.

My older brother is the most influential person in my life. He has always pushed me to think differently about situations, to be relentlessly myself, and to love everyone—even strangers—unconditionally.

Also, my teacher at Hot Yoga Capitol Hill, LaShone Wilson. She comes into the room fully present, ready to give her all to her students. This has inspired me to truly connect with myself as a student during my practice and as a teacher when guiding others.

“It wasn’t easy to accept that maybe my current profession wasn’t the correct choice.”

Inna Yakovleva (Odessa, Ukraine)

Many people think that yoga is just to relax and meditate and it’s difficult to imagine for some of them that we could sweat and we could get stronger.

I used to think that yoga was something more spiritual and for mental relaxation, but after my first yoga class, I realized that that wasn’t quite right.

My first class was Bikram yoga, and I thought I almost died! It was so demanding and hard that I was counting down the minutes to get out, but when the class was finished, I don’t know how, but I was wishing to do it again. From that moment, my addiction to yoga appeared.

My proudest moment in recent years was the Yoga Teachers College course. It wasn’t easy to accept that maybe my current profession wasn’t the correct choice, but finally, I decided to listen to my inner voice and start doing something that was truly my passion, and now I’m really grateful to myself for taking this step. The next step is to gradually start teaching and in the near future, change my profession.

The challenge has been more mental, to get out of my comfort zone and quit my current work in order to start working as a yoga teacher. But I think of the best piece of advice I’ve received from a yoga instructor: ‘Do what you love, listen to your body and your mind!’

“I was stuck in a corporate job in Iceland; a place where I didn’t bloom as I should have.”

Iris osp Heldrunardottir (Ísafjörður, Iceland)

Last year, I visited Kenya for the first time. I lived with a Maasai tribe for a few days. I will never be able to really process what I experienced while living with them; experiencing their way of living surrounded by wild giraffes and hyenas, living off what only nature gives.

Now I want to be able to live off yoga—to be able to share my passion all over the world!

I was stuck in a corporate job in Iceland; a place where I didn’t bloom as I should have. Then life happened. I found Yoga Teachers College and only a month later I was ‘living’ in Barcelona, doing nothing but yoga!

The weather and the yoga atmosphere here is hard to find elsewhere. You can pretty much drop down anywhere to do your daily yoga. Finding a park where I can practice my yoga and where dogs run free? What a day!

I was more recently in Austria and Italy where I taught a few classes. Now I’m having an office break in the UK before I make my way to Asia—don’t know where yet but I plan on following some yoga studios and doing some classes at beaches and hotels/hostels.

Now it’s time to move on and keep traveling.

“I felt like there was more I could learn.”

Charlotte Winston (Sydney, Australia)

I had always wanted to do an immersion but could not give up all the necessary weekends before because my children were very young at the time. But I finally went to Bangkok to complete a Vinyasa yoga training in 2017.

I lived there for the three months of the training, renting a room in a friend’s house. I completed 60+ classes during the three months. I treated it like a job and the studio was my office!

Then, I got to complete the Yoga Teachers College training in Barcelona two years later! The first thing I look for in a yoga teacher training is the reputation of the trainer. So, YTC called my attention because I was interested in Lucas’ success over the years and felt there was still more I could learn. The training definitely helped me get teaching work because it strengthened my confidence.

But also because Lucas introduced me to an ex-student of his who put my name forward for a position at the studio he works at and I got the position. So we are both ex-YOGABODY teachers there which is nice!

“Graduating a mind-body fitness education marks the next chapter of my life.”

Jesper Christensen (Herning, Denmark)

I was hit from behind on a high-speed freeway and got a concussion and immobility in my neck, shoulders, and back. I was isolated for a month during Christmas as I couldn’t handle noise or people around me and I had big issues with my long-term memory and remembering new stuff the following year.

Yoga helped me calm my nervous system down and get mobility back faster than other professional help I tried… and within weeks. My focus and concentration in yoga poses and meditation did and is still helping me calm down my mind and help with my memory issues.

If it weren’t for yoga I would still spend most of my time stressed behind a computer. As of late, I have been working in IT. Graduating a mind-body fitness education marks the next chapter of my life.

“I had a difficult year getting out of a negative relationship.”

Julia Daly (Portland, Oregan)

I was living in Portland, Oregon, when a job opportunity in Barcelona presented itself out of nowhere and I decided that it was just time for a change. That was in 2017, and I had had a difficult year getting out of a negative relationship, trying to find my stride professionally and was honestly just looking for an exciting change.

Years before, I had lived in Spain as a university student and was always hoping I could find a reason to return. I saw my chance and took it.

My favorite yoga-related thing about Barcelona is honestly the yoga community. There are dozens of studios to choose from and it seems that every weekend there are retreats or events to try around the city or in other parts of Spain.

The Barcelona yoga scene is also very collaborative. I have attended events combined with sound baths, healers, palm readers, kombucha companies, etc. It’s really great and continues to grow and become more diverse in regards to yoga styles/events.

My favorite non-yoga activity in Barcelona? Eating! Barcelona has a great restaurant scene and I am very much enjoying eating my way around the city.

I just recently began teaching Vinyasa flow classes to private students in Barcelona and it’s great. I think yoga is really gaining traction and popularity with people of all ages, backgrounds and yoga abilities. There are lots of opportunities for yoga teachers in Barcelona if you speak Spanish.

If you don’t, there are still many opportunities as Barcelona has a huge expat community, but you just have to get creative about finding students and studios to fit your language/teaching abilities.

“I need to be moving all the time, otherwise, I go stir crazy.”

Kristina Ivoskute (Vilnius, Lithuania)

I love running—it helps me get rid of negative energy, and yoga helps me to stay in balance.

I try to see all experiences as part of natural life flow with its rises and falls and I try not to divide moments into happy or sad. But there are definitely some very special moments, such as when I got a dog as a child (my dream come true!) or when I ran my first full marathon (so far the only one) or when I finished my Yoga Teachers College training in Barcelona, Spain.

I already had one yoga teacher training diploma, but I did not feel ready to teach and I did not know where to start, so I decided to do one more training which would be business-oriented, robust, and non-spiritual—and YOGABODY seemed to cover it all.

I loved the feeling of community and the great teachers and I really enjoyed learning new sequences. My biggest remaining goal now is to open a yoga studio with a vegetarian café on a side.

“It has been a long time since I’ve done anything for myself personally.”

Lina Vollin (Kaunas, Lithuania)

One of my students suffered from back pain for many years every single day she felt like it was normal to be in pain. Only a month or two after she started practicing yoga she felt much better and now she is feeling amazing. That is the best reward for me.

My biggest goal is to get more people to fall in love with yoga. l think people sometimes are mistaken, thinking about what yoga is. They think it’s religious, it’s not physical enough, and you have to be super flexible; that it’s all about chanting.

l guess l was a little skeptical myself as l went to a few classes that didn’t click for me, but I kept looking and I’m very happy with the YOGABODY approach.

l have to say that I’m very proud of myself for taking the Yoga Teachers College course and finishing with good feedback from teachers. It has been a long time since I’ve done anything for myself personally. I’m a mum of three beautiful children (21, 18, 5). Sometimes people are a little shocked when l say that my son is 21. My family is the most important to me; their opinion is very important to me.

I’m still reasonably new to yoga and what I love about it is that it is endless self-discovery. Everyday I discover something new… I’m surprising myself. l love the connection that breathing and movement have. l love how l feel after practice: light, peaceful and at the same time powerful. l want to share that with everyone I meet.

“It has never been easy for me to talk in public.”

Mireia Salat (Barcelona, Spain)

I think people would be surprised to know it has never been easy for me to talk in public, even though I am an elementary school teacher and now a yoga teacher—which are two jobs that imply talking in public. Ironic, I know!

I’m originally from Barcelona but after living in California for two years I came back ready to meet new people from around the world who shared the same passion for yoga.

I loved that during the training, I got to discover new places in my own hometown. Spending three weeks with people who love yoga and want to share their passion has been one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. The bonding and connection created were wonderful!

I try to share my passion with the people I care about by giving them some tips, such as how to calm down by using their breath. Something simple that everyone can do by themselves. And then I introduce them to some poses—seeing their faces glow after the class is the best reward ever!

“We changed our lifestyle— enjoying the sunrise instead of partying.”

Sergio Villena (Barcelona, Spain)

My girlfriend also did the YOGABODY Yoga Teacher Training a few months before I did. Even though I’ve only known her for a little over two years, she has been the most influential person in my life at the moment. She supports me with everything I do. She is the main reason why I am a certified yoga teacher and soon-to-be acroyoga teacher.

The best of all this is that we grow together. We changed our lifestyle: quitting smoking and alcohol, switching to healthy nutrition, regularly playing sports, enjoying the sunrise instead of partying. But more importantly, she still influences me to become a different person than what society or others expects from me so that I become what I really am and what I never thought I could be.

Almost 10 years ago I tried to practice yoga on two occasions, but I quit after a few weeks. But after discovering acroyoga and Vinyasa style I got into it. I was the typical person that did a lot of team sports and strength training but almost always without stretching or taking care of my body—as long as I could score a goal or run a 5K. I couldn’t even reach my toes!

A few months later, I loved it so much that on top of becoming a certified teacher in both styles, I became passionate about giving classes, too. I love seeing how my students get more flexible, stronger, and happier.

I guess the biggest improvement was inside of me, building a different life for myself… and I am much more satisfied with this ‘new life.’

“I was never able to do the splits. Then, in my 30s, I found myself doing it!”

Noémi Marton (Budapest, Hungary)

I had a full class (more than 20 people) at my Yoga Teachers College teaching exam. A part of the students was made of yoga teacher mates who wanted to support me, the others didn’t know me.

Not only did I enjoy my Yoga Wheel class so very much, but almost every one of the students came to me afterward to say how much they appreciated my voice (someone said: ‘Your voice is your gun!’), my sense of humor, and my caring character. It was an amazing experience!

Yoga is quite an intimate activity (even practicing in group classes). We shouldn’t measure ourselves by watching others, the only goal should be: ‘Let’s do a little bit better than we did yesterday!’

For example, I was never able to do splits. And then, in the beginning of my 30s, thanks to my yoga and taekwondo practice, I just found myself doing it! It makes me realize that the human body is capable of miracles, we just have to trust ourselves and of course, practice every day!

My family and my friends are my biggest fans! My mother and I have always shared the interest of working on our wellness, she encourages me a lot to live my dream. I have made plenty of friends try yoga and almost all of them found that it was a huge help in their daily lives (doing just 30 minutes of yoga after a long day of hard work can save lives!).

Find info on studios, teacher trainings, Barcelona, and more:

The Yoga Teachers College headquarters are in Barcelona with three yoga studios that double as international training centers. The school boasts one of the most highly regarded accreditation programs in the world with courses on offer throughout the year both online, in Barcelona, and in various other locations worldwide.

To learn more, visit: www.YogaTeachersCollege.com

Article by Kaleena Stroud