Meet Brianna | School Yoga Institute Guatemala 200Hh YTT Alumni | Featured Image

Brianna – Guatemala 200hr YTT

BRIANNA ~ 200-HOUR GUATEMALA YTT STUDENT

I keep returning to the same phrase when trying to sum up my yoga teacher training with the School of Yoga Institute (SYI): life-changing.

My life’s path wove in many directions leading to this moment.  Up until I stepped foot on the dock of the Mystical Yoga Farm (MYF) on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, I continually asked myself if I was truly making the right decision.  21 days later, I can resoundingly reply: Absolutely.

Living in Philadelphia, a bustling city, the daily grind of life was beginning to wear at my edges – my physical, mental, and emotional health were depleted.  Yoga, my safe space, my refuge from the world, suddenly didn’t feel so safe in the exercise-heavy, music-blasting city scene.  I longed for the breathwork, the grounding, and the connection to spirit.  The lack of accessibility and inclusivity in yoga spaces around Philly further disheartened and weighed on me.

I kept asking myself, how could a spiritual practice based on acceptance and working toward liberation be so exclusive?  How has it been so simplified to be repackaged as a commodity that glorifies Instagram status?  These questions didn’t sit well with me.

One of my long-time yoga teachers (and dear friend) encouraged me that the time for the student to become the teacher had arrived.  She insisted that I could be the person, the channel, to provide an offering where I felt there was a lack, or even, an injustice, in not only the city in which I was living but the world.

It was a daunting thought and one that I repeatedly denied for months.  However, my frustrations with the city continued to accumulate and I began to realize that perhaps I really could be the change I wished to see in the world.  Luckily, around this time, I found another yoga teacher with a practice and connection to spirituality that resonated deeply with me.  She was a true embodiment of the practice.  I discovered that she was an SYI alumna.  Needless to say, my path forward unfolded.

SYI particularly stood out to me because it bridges traditional yogic philosophy with shamanism.  Yoga has had a central position in my life ever since I first practiced it.  However, connecting yoga to shamanism has allowed me to deepen my inner connection with not only myself but my ancestors.  This was a connection I felt I had lost and over which I had been grappling with grief for years.  SYI’s Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) has shown me how to harness these profound tools for healing in my own life.  I now hope to share this with others.

Growing up Chicana, it hasn’t always been easy.  I’ve constantly found myself in spaces where I don’t feel comfortable or welcomed.  There’s a lot of generational trauma, complicated by systemic racism, accompanying me daily.  However, yoga has been an essential ally and tool for me as I navigate this environment.

It became clear: two things about which I am fiercely passionate, yoga and fighting for/protecting/giving voice to my people, became my dharma.  I want to bring yoga to (i.e., make it accessible for) marginalized communities.  I want to help equip my people with the tools of radical self-acceptance and embracing nuestra cultura so that we can collectively achieve change.

Meet Brianna | School Yoga Institute Guatemala 200Hh YTT Alumni | Images Desktop
Meet Brianna | School Yoga Institute Guatemala 200Hh YTT Alumni | Images Mobile

Graduating from SYI, I felt so empowered.  My incredible teachers, Katie and Anita, saw the fire within me and helped me to nurture it.  This is what teaching is about – realizing the potential of your students and helping them to grow so that they can fly.  I aspire to that, encouraging and enabling change on the wings of my students.

Teaching can be so powerful.  I hope to couple that with another one of my greatest joys: travel and exploration of the world.  My curiosity is sharp and my drive is endless.  Over the years, I’ve built beautiful relationships across the world through various yoga communities.  It is so special to meet others and carry a lesson from those interactions with you throughout your life.  Connection with people and in combination with the land, such as sacred locations laden with cultural and spiritual significance, can be such an influential, compelling experience (e.g., YTT on Lake Atitán, Guatemala).

I will continue my travels around the world, offering a yoga practice in the spirit of fostering connection and equality – all practitioners regardless of age, size, appearance, or identity are welcome.  I hope to create a network of enlightened and accepting yogis throughout the world so that we may find a safe space for nourishment and home wherever we are in the world.

Eventually, as I continue my studies in yoga, I hope to earn additional certifications in restorative, yin, and yoga nidra as well.  One day, I would like to facilitate my own yoga teacher training with a focus on accessibility and equality.  The possibilities are endless and I am really excited for the opportunities my training with SYI has opened.

Words continue to escape me as I try to describe this life-changing experience.  I continually circle back with gratitude – gratitude that I found SYI, that I found a program that allows to me to be enmeshed and wholly connected to our Pachamama, that I was able to learn in a sacred location where my spirit could heal and flourish, and that I became a part of a beautiful new family of strong, fierce, intelligent, accepting sisters.  This was more than a training.  This was an essential, pivotal step in my journey of self-reflection, exploration, and connection to spirit.