Answering the Call: Finding Your Path Through Yoga Teacher Training

By Kari Kemper

The way to yoga varies.  Many seek it as a form of exercise, a westernized version of a spiritual practice.  Frequently you hear those who are more “devoted” (whatever that means) raise an eyebrow on those who use this a method of fitness.  Or you may have some who can’t quite understand why one would chant at a kirtan, read the sutras, meditate daily or become a vegetarian when practicing asana works just fine. It is very easy to slip into “I know the true way” path which goes against the 8 tenets of Yoga – specifically Yama (our attitudes towards our environment which in my opinion includes all those who inhabit this world).    

That external judgment often is redirected to the self when considering becoming a yoga instructor.  Do I practice enough on a weekly basis?  Have I practiced consistently for years?  Am I worthy?

My path ebbed and flowed, stuttered and started, waxed and waned…..for a very long time.   I was a seeker who when I didn’t find what I needed or felt challenged, walked away.  I did that for decades.  It was only after many years of devoted running, and the injuries that happen as a result did I find yoga physically therapeutic.  That combined with finally landing in a studio with teachers who resonated with me, kept me in an active practice…. with a few stops and starts along the way.  It was when I gave up running on a daily basis replacing it with some form of yoga (a 5-minute practice counts in my book!), everything changed.  I could still move my body, but the experience of centering of the mind and softening of my over-stressed nervous system became the game changer.

In 2017 I was assisting Sellwood Yoga organize their Yoga in Italy retreat.  Managing the details of the attendees, making sure they knew what to pack, how to get there, what to expect, etc.  Onsite at the retreat, I was the go-to for questions and maker of coffee (most important job if you ask me).  The retreat leader and only instructor for the 8-day session was Savonn, co-owner of Sellwood Yoga and the most gifted teacher. 

While sitting by the pool one morning drinking my coffee, I thought about becoming a yoga instructor, but quickly stopped myself.  So many reasons not to, based on fear.  One of which was that I was certain Savonn would tell me no, that I was not ready.

I waited a few days and then mentioned that I was possibly considering signing up for the training but was not sure.  She looked me straight in the eye and said “yes”.  I made that commitment in my heart, and it was only a few weeks before classes started that October did I tell my friends and family.  And they said “yes”.  They could see what I could not.

Teacher training is empowering but let’s be honest:  It can be terrifying!  You think you know all about yoga and you quickly discover you know nothing at all.  Except that you have it in your heart.  Sequencing, adjustments, anatomy, breathwork, philosophy, trauma informed instruction, people with injuries, words to use, words not to use…the list goes on and on. 

And then they make you teach.  They throw you to the wolves (don’t worry, you are prepared) and say you will be great.  That first community practice teaching class to the public was understandably anxiety producing, causing me to not sleep the night before and annoy my teacher training cohort in our training class right before (I was buzzing and not in a good way). 

I was full of doubt.  Full of fear.  Full of excitement.

I found my voice and my courage and started the class.  Empowered by friends and other studio students who risked life and limb to be taught by me, I looked up and saw smiling faces – all in support of what I was doing – holding my shaking nerves in love.  60 minutes flew by. I was hooked.

Graduation came and went.  Practice classes continued.  Subbing for seasoned teachers happened and in the end, I was offered a teaching position at the studio that I love so much.  And I was told I would co-teach at Yoga in Italy 2018.

Returning to our retreat location, my first class on the first day left me humbled to say the least.  While my students were ending the practice in Savasana, I looked around the room and realized that it was here, in this exact spot that I whispered I wanted to teach.  Full circle in a year after putting it out there, committing to the process, and loving every minute.

And now?  I am still teaching at Sellwood Yoga.  I have (and always will) continued my studies.  I co-teach at yoga retreats.  All while having a corporate day job.  Teaching enriches my soul. 

Sellwood Yoga offered me a spot as a member of their top-tier 200 Hour Teacher Training program that starts October 2023.  I am humbled and honored, excited to contribute to the collective whole of one of the most well-rounded teacher training programs offered in the United States.

There are a few spots left to take that leap into becoming a yoga instructor.   Whether you teach or not at the end of this enriching training, you will be forever changed.

Join us.  For more information –