The name of our yoga studio here in Maryland is so much more than a name. SHIFT...it embodies a way of life, it is a viewpoint of living, an invitation to dig deeper. It has become a calling to empower our community to use the practice of #yoga and it's rich teachings, to walk their path with more curiosity in a new and inspired, more connected and embodied way.
When I opened this studio three years ago, the vision I had was held up by two pillars, self care and connection and armed with these pillars, I set out to invite my community to SHIFT the way they view yoga, to SHIFT the way they meet themselves each day, to SHIFT the space they hold for others and to ultimately SHIFT the way they move through the world.
Through growing this community at SHIFT YOGA, I have come to learn that deep down, this longing to make a SHIFT in our lives is inside all of us. Wether we have the language yet to articulate it, we all want to SHIFT our mindset, SHIFT our bodies, SHIFT our emotional resilience, our relationships and SHIFT our connection to this divine journey unfolding so quickly before us and find balance and ease in our lives.
Now it is important to pause and elaborate on the meaning of SHIFT - for me it isn't making a change, but SHIFTing is instead about deepening. So for example a longing to SHIFT our bodies is met with an invitation to SHIFT the idea that they need to change and instead awaken the desire that is in all of us to deepen our relationship to this vessel that we battle with so much most days. It is through our lens here at SHIFT YOGA, that we have learned to use our #yogapractice not to change our bodies, but to deepen our connection to, knowledge of and appreciation for our bodies. This is a SHIFT worth working on! This is a SHIFT that leads to sustainable changes that impact the way we see ourselves and ultimately leads us to a deeper level on connection, care and celebration.
Guided by this mantra to SHIFT, I have since lovingly applied it to everything we do here. In all twists and turns of being the guardian of this studio, I ask myself, "How can I SHIFT this so that connection and care can deepen?" This had guided me in every way from how we navigated a pandemic, to how we treat people at our studio, to what it means to be a #yogacommunity and so much more. It infuses everything we do and is a meaningful torch to carry.
Teaching others the tools to heal themselves has been my life's work for over a decade. Nothing brings me more joy and fulfillment then to highlight the roots of this sacred path, to uplift the wisdom, culture, lessons and love passed down from humble guru to eager student for over 2,000 years. These practices have been transmitted into my heart by some wise, compassionate and divine Vedic Masters and every time I engage with the practices of yoga and share them with others, I feel the inspired spirits of not only my teachers who have helped me to awaken to my True Nature, but the great Indian Sage's who originated this wisdom path by my side. Every time I am lucky enough to share the path of yoga with others, we continue to link together this inspired chain of hearts and minds united by a common longing to SHIFT into a deeper state of peace.
If we are lucky to step onto a mat with a #yogateacher who goes beyond just teaching yoga poses, a spark gets lit. The longing to SHIFT gets called forward from its dormant place within our hearts and minds and we begin to lean in to yoga with more curiosity. We can't help but begin to see #yoga differently. Many of us started off seeing yoga as a physical exercise (because we are flooded with this message that this is all it is) here in the Yoga Industry in the West. If we are lucky to be taught by a teacher, lovingly working to SHIFT that narrative, we can't help but fall in love with our vast potential to awaken and the sacredness of these teaching and soon we have the hearts desire to explore deeper and learn more about the rich path of yoga and how it might support a deepening in our own life's journey.
For students of yoga today, the model for deepening your knowledge and connection is pretty standard across the industry from state to state. It's called a Yoga Teacher Training. A standardized 200 Hour Program, that can run anywhere from several weeks to an entire year (depending on the school's schedule format) and carrying a price tag of on average $3,000 these days. This is a huge barrier and an immediate turnoff for many who want to learn more and go in search of their options only to find it is either offered in a $30 weekend workshop about one topic, that barely scratches the surface or a super time and money intensive Teacher Training option. Now don't get me wrong The 200 Hour YTT is a remarkable journey, it's filled with self discovery and a whole lot of doing yoga and guiding 200 Hour's is the highlight of my work as a yoga teacher. As one of those teacher who invites students to see that yoga isn't a physical work out, but a spiritual path about working in, I have heard for years from my beloved students that they want to learn more about yoga, but don't want to teach.
So as it came time again to think about offering another session of our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, I looked at it through my guiding lens..."How can I SHIFT the way this is done, so that my community can go deeper, connect more profoundly and continue to SHIFT themselves from the inside out?" An idea hatched and a whole new approach to Yoga Teacher Training at SHIFT was born.
In a traditional 200 Hour Model, you have certain criteria that need to be met for teaching certification to be achieved, this is set by something in our industry called The Yoga Alliance. Schools will set a schedule for training and throughout the whole length of the course the focus is how to teach yoga as the tread of the course with little bits of philosophy sprinkled in.
So my heart thought, why not SHIFT this idea to make space for folks who want all the deeper teachings and none of the methodology of how to teach yoga postures? Why not make it an option for folks to take half of the course and pay half of the price so they can get the deep, immersive experience with the rich spiritual tradition of yoga that so many of them crave, but don't have access to because no one is SHIFTing the traditional model beyond a weekend workshop or a 200 Hour Teaching Certification.
It delights my soul to answer this call for my community and SHIFT the traditional model for going deeper here in Maryland. Our approach to Yoga Teacher Training has SHIFTed to provide a path for those that long to dig deeper and engage in the teachings and sacred practices that birthed this lifestyle long before down dog came around and things watered down to be all about the physical poses.
Our 200 Hour Program is 8 months and now offers 2 Tracts of study. Anyone who wants to learn more with no interest in teaching certification can sign up for half the training. Offered one weekend per month for 4 months, we will explore all the deeper teaching of the path and save all the teaching methodology for the last months of the Program. This will allow folks that don't want to teach a path to join us from May-August and then stop, while folks who want to gain the teaching certification will continue on for 4 additional months. Here we will take all the deep rich teachings we embodied deeply together in the first half of the course, add the components of understanding the art of teaching and learn how to not only teach accessible yoga classes, but how to also share the deeper teachings learned in the first Tract with reverence and care. This will lovingly carry on the torch of this profound sacred path to self healing, understanding and liberation, providing students in Maryland and beyond more teachers out there in studios, lighting the spark and upholding the light of this sacred practice and carrying on the invitation to make a deep, meaningful SHIFT in their lives through the sacred lens of yoga.
Jessie Kates is a certified Mindfulness and Meditation teacher, owner of SHIFT YOGA Studio in Fulton, MD and a student of the Advanced Yoga Therapy Program at Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy School.
She is the creator of SHIFT Self Care, an innovative system of therapeutic Self Care combining Mindfulness and Self Myofascial Release to empower others to be their own source of healing for body, mind and soul. Connect with Jessie. Email email@example.com