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We Are All Imperfect Beings, Even Yoga Teachers

by Martin Miron

Pam Medina

Pam Medina, E-RYT-500, has achieved the highest level of recognition through the Yoga Alliance, an organization that works to regulate the quality and integrity of the ancient yogic tradition. She been practicing yoga for 24 years and is the owner of The Yoga Lily, in Clifton Park. Her focus is on “imperfect” yoga teacher training.

How has your own yogic journey lent to your current studio and teaching philosophy?

I started practicing yoga for a college requirement in physical education. Up until then, I had never really moved my body. I was always quite the couch potato and to be honest, scared to move my body. I hated yoga at first. I was extremely stiff and morbidly obese. I would skip the sun salutations until the more relaxing hatha yoga poses were instructed.

But something magical happened for me when I was in deep relaxation since the very first day. I forgot my worries, felt what it was like to be alive inside my body and for the first time in my life, I was at ease. I kept coming back for that again and again.

What was the next step in your transformation?

When I graduated, I started taking classes at local studios, quit smoking, changed to a yogic diet and lost 100 pounds. Everyone wanted me to teach them yoga after seeing my shift. I decided to get certified. Finding a school I felt comfortable was no easy task, though. I was judged by local teacher trainers in the area; I guess I didn’t fit their idea of a “perfect” student, and I almost gave up. Ann Davis, owner of The Yoga Nook, in Glens Falls told me to look up the Satchidananda Ashram – Yogaville.

What happened at Yogaville?

The teacher trainees there taught me that being a yoga teacher is about being love. The founding guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda, was a leader of peace and unity. He build a meditation hall dedicated to all religions, and they grew much of their own food, sang songs of love and God, and served selflessly from the heart. I new I found my forever yoga home. After teaching for several years at multiple studios, I journeyed to India. I was sitting along the Ganges River when I felt deep in my soul it was time to open my own studio where I could build a vibrant yoga community. Keeping the sweetness in yoga is a high priority for me. Shortly after I returned home, I was married, and my husband and I opened The Yoga Lily in his hometown.

How did you conceive of “imperfect” yoga teacher training?

When I decided to offer a yoga teacher training program at my studio, I wanted to be sure nobody ever felt like I did when I was judged by my appearance. I want to keep the heart and soul of yoga alive and I want people to keep it real. Nobody is perfect, and if you think you are, then you are probably not much of a student, which means you won’t be much of a teacher. Nobody wants to learn from someone who thinks they are above them. When we can forgive ourselves and forgive the world—that is when a true teacher is born!

What is different about The Yoga Lily teacher training program?

My 200-hour teacher training program doesn’t just prepare teachers to instruct yoga poses. I train my teachers to be ready for students that may have no body awareness and who may be completely new to moving their body. We adapt our yoga poses to fit the students needs, and do not expect to make our students fit into a yoga body stereotype. Yoga is taught as a spiritual practice: a gateway to freedom, happiness and health. Over the course of nine months, deep relationships are formed with the whole training group, including me, which continues for our lifetimes with our regular spiritual community sharing and potluck.

Many of our teacher trainees start off more interested in the personal development and exploration that is part of our program, and then to teach, but they typically become so inspired by their daily yoga, meditation and self-reflection practice that they are flooded with the inspiration to share the gift of yoga.

What do you hope that students take away from the experience?

That they are love, however they have shown up in the world. No matter what has happened in life, it is not without reason. We can transform the pain and the suffering into beauty, just as the lily thrives on the muddy waters. A teacher’s greatest job is to always remain a student of life and to share her journey from the heart. Our lives are sacred.

The Yoga Lily is located at 1 Barney Rd., Ste. 222, in Clifton Park. For more information, call 518-744-5565 or visit TheYogaLily.com.