What It's Really Like To Be a Yoga Instructor

I am fascinated with the stories of women who are out there living their best lives. I think more of those stories need to be shared with the world.

This is the story about my friend Marie. I don’t want to call this an “interview” necessarily. It’s really more about the story of who she is, who she wants to be, and how she lives that purpose through yoga.

Marie inspires me every day in the way that she is chasing her passions in all corners of her life. She fell in love with yoga and decided to pursue teaching. This is her story.

Amanda Stewart: Marie, what made you want to become certified as a yoga instructor?

Marie: When I started my teacher training, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to teach. This may sound silly, but teacher training is not just about learning to teach the asanas and the philosophy of yoga, it’s also a deep dive into yourself — your soul, your inner wisdom. It’s a healing journey and I think I was called to it for that very reason.

As I reflect, I believe I came to yoga teacher training to become more in touch with myself and to heal. As I progressed through training, that’s when I realized how much I wanted to share this practice with others, to teach and create space for people to heal and be in touch with themselves.

In the Western world, we focus so much on the asana, but the practice of yoga is deeply spiritual and personal as well. Yoga helped me to heal and continues to be there whenever I am navigating something that feels insurmountable. It’s a reminder of the power we have within ourselves. I want other people to feel that, too — so I teach, I create space, and hope that others will find that oneness and sense of personal power too.

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AS: Tell us about falling in love with yoga. When did yoga become a part of your life?

Marie: The first time I did yoga I was probably 22 or 23 — I wasn’t a fan at first and avoided the practice for many years. In retrospect, I know this is because I was avoiding some deeply personal struggles and yoga forced me to sit with those. I wasn’t ready.

I dabbled with yoga throughout my early to mid-twenties, but nothing super dedicated. It wasn’t until I was 27 that I started to develop a more regular practice — I had just moved to a new city and was getting out of a very difficult, very unhealthy relationship. It was time to deal with all of those things I’d been avoiding for years.

I came to the mat, I practiced, and I remember several moments where I would just cry because I finally felt safe doing so. Whether I realized it at the time or not, I was starting to peel back the layers and come back to myself.

I fell in love with yoga because it was an avenue for me to fall back in love with myself. And it’s not always a serious deep dive into heavy emotions — I love yoga because it reminds me to be playful and explore things that I didn’t know I was capable of. It’s been my heart these past few years and has allowed me to develop the most beautiful community I have ever known.

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AS: What is the time commitment for taking something like this on?

Marie: If someone wants to take on a 200 hour teacher training, there are a couple options.

First, you could pursue a program like the one I completed at Yess Yoga in Minneapolis — the trainings were set up in modules that spanned across several months. Usually training would take place on the weekends and one evening during the week. It took up most of my weekend time for several months, but I loved spending that time with my people.

This is probably the best option if you have a full-time job, like me. Otherwise, there are so many programs around the world that offer an intensive training, with the 200 hours all taking place within about 3-5 weeks. This might be an option if you have a more flexible schedule or if you want to travel as a part of your teaching training experience.

There are trainings everywhere — my one suggestion is to ask a lot of questions and really assess what makes sense for you. Your teacher training is about your experience and what you want to gain from that time.

AS: Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Marie: Be open. Be willing to sit with your own vulnerabilities and insecurities.

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As yoga teachers, we create space for other people to move, process emotions, or do whatever they need to do on their mat that day. It’s a deeply humbling experience to teach others in this space. There are times where people don’t like my style or they show up with emotions that have nothing to do with me. I think that goes with a lot of things in life — sometimes the way people respond isn’t about you.

With that said, be open to feedback and learning from your students, but never compromise yourself and remember feedback always gives us the opportunity to grow in some way, shape, or form. And whatever you do, have some fun with it! As adults, we forget to play and foster our inner child. Embrace being playful.

Most of all, be you. I can’t emphasize that enough — I think we all need that reminder – you are absolutely beautiful whenever you are on this life journey.

AS: How can we stay connected to you? Instagram? Email address?

Marie: Instagram is @mheartkey and Email is hartke.marie@gmail.com. I love new friends!

Thank you to Marie for sharing her story with us. 

Photos featured in this post are courtesy of Marie.