Have you ever been lying in shavasana at the end of a yoga class and thought that you might like to have the wisdom and arms belonging to the soft voice guiding you into relaxation?
When I first tried yoga, I never thought about becoming an instructor. I went because I felt strong, confident, and somehow less aggravated by the world every time I left a class.
Two years later, I heard about the teacher-training program at Pranava, a studio only a couple of blocks away from the CC campus and applied in a bout of inspired spontaneity.
Every day that I walk into a class at Pranava is a day that I can expect a hug, a laugh, a nugget of wisdom, and a rejuvenating workout. Hethyr Pletsch, who now owns the studio, says that when she first started coming to Pranava, where she took her 200- and 500-hour teacher trainings, a sense of warmth and community was the first thing she noticed about the people who practice there.
“They wore huge smiles, laughed and joked with each other, and immediately made me feel right at home,” Pletsch said. “I fell in love with Pranava during that very first class, and I pretty much never left.”
Jessica, a fellow student in the teacher training that Pletsch runs, says that being in the program has been a light of strength and positivity for her during a difficult few months.
“I don’t think I could have gotten through it without the teacher training,” Jessica says. “These intensive weekends made me stay in the moment and got me out of my head and obsessing about my problems.”
Jessica, who has taken a teacher training program in the past at another studio, said that Pranava reignited her passion for yoga because studio focuses on community, personal growth, and all eight limbs of yoga. The physical “asana” that is often the only part of yoga people are aware of.
“I feel that most of the students in this program are searching for something deeper than the average person,” said Jessica. “The students in this program don’t want to settle for an ordinary life. We are looking for answers to the big questions of life. We are pilgrims who want to try and share something meaningful, to bring joy and healing to others and to ourselves, to society, to the planet as a whole.”
Fred, another student, originally started the program to deepen his practice of yoga and meditation without the intention to teach. He is an example of the diversity of Pranava’s students.
In speaking of this diversity he said, “Some are physically very limber and postures come easily to them, while others are physically quite inflexible; some are natural communicators and others have difficulty putting thoughts to words in a public setting. But all are committed to Yoga for their personal lives and most are committed to sharing it as teacher.”
Pletsch also acknowledges that many students come to the program without wanting to teach, but end up teaching anyway because of a compulsion to share the knowledge and strength gained over the course of the training.
Her experience was similar in that she never intended to make yoga the center of her livelihood and life.
“For many, this journey is a life-changing experience. When I took my first training, I thought maybe I’d try to teach a class a week in addition to my other full-time job,” said Pletsch. “However, life had other plans in store for me, and within a short period of time, yoga became my full-time job and my life’s passion. This program truly helped me find my way to being a better person, and I feel so blessed that I now get to share that experience with others.”
At Pranava, you will hear compassionate speeches about the theme of the month, sit in workshops with guest teachers who are gurus and change-makers and see teachers do everything from laugh at themselves for not being flexible that day to demonstrating unsupported headstands.
One of the most unique and special moments in a class at Pranava is when you open your eyes after chanting “OM” and the teacher says, “Yoga means union, so get up and say hello,” at which point strangers, friends and loved ones all hug one another and shake hands, setting the mood for a class full of laughs, spontaneous dancing and creative inversions.
My time as a teacher trainee at Pranava is coming to a close, but I foresee myself taking many more walks to that brick red building and big windowed studio room to be inspired by a community that embraces everyone who walks through their door and continues to reflect on me a degree of compassion and strength I never knew I had.
Pranava Yoga Center is located at 802 N. Weber St. For more information about their Yoga Teacher Training Program, stop by the studio or visit their website pranavayogacenter.com.