As my kids began leaving the nest, I found myself with time and energy that needed an outlet. I wanted to contribute and be part of something. My former corporate marketing career did not excite me, and frankly after raising a family, I wasn't sure I had the skills to go back to the same job. Instead, I started teaching yoga and love my new career.
Here is how I reinvented myself:
About five years ago, I meekly told Tom Abrehamson, my yoga teacher, that I might want to teach. Much to my surprise, he was thrilled and supportive. First, I worked as his in-class apprentice to see if I really enjoyed the role of teacher. I loved it. This wonderful relationship continued for three years, with me taking over more teaching responsibilities in his classes. I learned to speak with a full voice, do manual adjustments on students and lead a class of 25 while Tom watched my back and provided critical feedback so I could improve.
After a year of apprenticing and with newfound confidence, I asked the studio's owner about teaching, only to learn that before that could happen I had to complete a 200-hour certified yoga instructor training course.
My Teacher Training
Fortunately, there are many yoga teacher training programs, and I found several that provided minimal disruption to family life. I enrolled in a five-month, 200-hour yoga teacher training program at Avalon Yoga in Palo Alto, California, that allowed me to be certified through the Yoga Alliance, an international yoga training organization. My training included history and philosophy lectures, hands-on anatomy sessions and time on the mat learning about popular types of yoga, including Iyengar, Anusara, therapeutic and others. I attended night lectures and studio classes that took place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. In order to be certified, an Avalon staff teacher monitored my class attendance and notes and watched me teach three classes. In all, the cost for my training was $1,600.
Since then, I have completed an additional 120 hours of teacher training in Anusara and Jivamukti yoga in Tucson and New York, and another 80 in children specific yoga in San Francisco. While not a certification requirement, additional training gives me more arrows to put in my yoga quiver. As I enjoy learning different styles of yoga -– slow flow, vigorous vinyasa and alignment based -– my teaching has become more comprehensive and dynamic. Today, my oldest student is 80 and the youngest is 4.
I now teach a total of 10 classes each week at four different studios, including the one where I apprenticed, and have private students. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and look forward to every class.
Here's my advice for approaching a career change, based on what worked for me:
- Make a commitment to re-invent yourself and go public with it. Tell your family and friends and ask for their support.
- Have a game plan with a final goal -- in my case it was to become a yoga teacher -- and stick with it.
- Don't be afraid to revise your plan. I thought I would teach Anusara yoga, but realized I enjoy learning and sharing different styles, which explains why I went through so many additional teacher trainings.
- Get a credential or certification to show you are serious about your new profession.
- Be creative. My website, cheryllynnyoga.com, is socially connected. Newsletters, blogs, Facebook, etc., challenge me. I enjoy learning about this part of the business.
Cheryl Acheson is a certified hatha yoga instructor working in Menlo Park and Los Altos, California, and still a dedicated student of Tom Abrehamson. Read her blog and get more information at www.cheryllynnyoga.com.
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