By: Alison Marras
October 16, 2018
(updated March 23, 2019)
As many of you may know, I’ve spent the last 4+ years now on a healing journey. From not knowing what was wrong– to my diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Disease and PCOS– to going back to school to be a holistic nutritionist with two certifications — and to learn so much about myself, healing diets, mindful eating, and self-care… All while on a mission to help others with all of this too. I’ve found great purpose while realizing so much about myself and my passions in life throughout healing. After really committing to these passions as my career and re-affirming what’s important in my life, I wanted to explore a part of my healing that I knew was lacking and was always de-prioritized, the spirituality and emotional aspects. This is why I decided to pursue my 200 Yoga Teacher Training this fall at Three Sisters Yoga.
Years ago, when my grandfather was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and my own health was declining, I went into obsession mode. “HEAL EVERYONE NOW” type of mode. It drove me back to school and drove me to find out what the heck was wrong with me. I was convinced I could fix it all away with healing diets, supplements, and finding the right doctors. Now, all of that did and still does help, but it only gets you so far. And I couldn’t understand why or what I was missing… somewhere along the line, the grief from my grandfather’s death, coupled with the depression I was experiencing, followed by 2 more family deaths… I didn’t know how to cope with it anymore. And as the “leader” or the “fixer”… I also didn’t know how to ask for help or even let that show.
So I took to yoga and meditation. On most nights and mornings through some of the worst of it, some combo of the two happened, if even just for 5 minutes. Because I knew it was helping and that it was something I could still do. But life did what it does, things got in the way, I took on a lot between working several jobs out of fear and not fully letting myself grieve… I kept pushing, restricting, and being hard on myself which I knew was wrong but had to keep learning the lesson. So upon realizing this, I dove deep into mindfulness (especially mindful eating), self-care, and yoga– I knew I had to keep at this and practice getting in tune… mind, body, spirit.
I made more room in my life and stopped taking so much on (this is a never-ending practice as well lol). I cut the noise, I quit my corporate job that was taking time away from what I really was meant to do (this) and immediately felt it was the best decision for me. I focused on my work, the type of content I wanted to create, and the ways I want to help my clients and readers and continued incorporating self-care practices, meditation, and yoga daily.
I realized yoga was one of the few constants that I could always go to as a refuge and to help heal myself and gave me the power to trust my life and let go. As letting go does not come easily to me. I knew what was next and what I needed now that I was really surrendering and seeing massive health benefits. I did all the work to know what food made me feel better and what made me feel worse, as well as what supported my health vs. made it more challenging. Now that I did that and could just be and let go… I didn’t want to put off the emotional and spiritual aspects of not just healing, but a fulfilled life, any longer.
It was always de-prioritized but I kept coming back to it over and over.
That constant tool I used through grieving family deaths, though not knowing how to always process all my goals and what I wanted to do in life, the way to look inwards and stop always “climbing a ladder” and learning to be more present by wrangling my mind and body together, doing something great for my body to strengthen and stretch my muscles, improve posture, and quiet the mind.
Will I teach? I’m still figuring that out, I do love helping others so I may, but my reasoning for taking this on is to deepen my understanding and practice of something that’s always been there for me and that I love. Going from studio to studio or practicing on my own has all been fun, but I wanted to understand the purpose of the moments, the intention of the practice, and how to truly make it a part of my life as another arm to keeping me present, grounded, and mindful. I also want more education on the benefits and power of meditation and yoga after experiencing it more and more.
Becoming a holistic nutritionist has meant a great deal to me, it’s made a world of difference for myself and I’m trying to make a difference for my family, clients, and readers as well. My mission is to always be as well-rounded as possible, to offer many tools that people can use on their own throughout their life to help them heal and thrive. Of course, sharing delicious recipes, teaching how to cook, sharing tips, research, and what works for me with supplements and lifestyle is a big part of this. And as a nutrition nerd, I wanted to add, even more, I wanted more art to complement the science… though both nutrition and yoga have a mix of both, I’d say nutrition leans more science and yoga leans into art. Having both makes me a more well-balanced individual and professional.
After searching through so many YTT programs from reviews on the Yoga Alliance website and chatting with friends, I jumped into my 200 hours with the Three Sisters Yoga program. It’s not a studio that offers classes regularly, but a school in NYC led by amazingly talented, warm and down-to-earth women who are pros. Jen, the director has been teaching for over 20 years and brings so much passion, open-mindedness, inclusiveness, and love to each and every class. I was lucky enough to spend the last 4 days with her for the start of my training. Kate, the assistant director was one of her original students and has partnered up with Jen in leading the curriculum. They’ve invited so many talented experts in their field to come and teach on specific topics so you’re always getting different perspectives which I love.
In NYC, there are so many appealing yoga studios and programs to attend… there’s also always the option of going to some amazing location abroad to bang out the hours in a 3 to 4-week period, but that didn’t work with my schedule. The other yoga studios I researched also didn’t either work scheduling-wise, were way out of the budget, and/or didn’t seem as approachable as TSY. I definitely didn’t feel like I needed to be able to rock a headstand (which I absolutely cannot LOL) or look a certain way to join.
After going to a sample class with Kate and seeing how grounded the community was, plus experiencing Kate’s way of teaching, I felt so welcomed and at ease. The community and students are very diverse, accepting, and loving… trying to each make a difference in their own lives with yoga and spread that around without any exclusion. I definitely found my place and would highly recommend, if this is something you’ve always wondered about (and that’s how it started out for me), that you consider them in your choice if you’re local to NYC. We also have a few students that commute long distances just to come to this program.
Not to mention, the 6-week intensives are Thurs./Fri. nights and full weekends so working full-time and doing this is totally do-able. It’s challenging and long hours sure, but you can fit in it. Another major benefit is they do allow makeup hours which was the first time I’d seen that be a thing… knowing I was already planning to take my husband away for his birthday this year, and not wanting to have to wait forever to start this… I felt at ease when discussing makeup hours with TSY.
I’m 28hrs in so far, am super sore, but feeling AMAZING. I’m feeling focused, calm, and ready to keep absorbing it all like a sponge. And it’s already not what I expected + everything I hoped all in one. I will continue to share my experience here and on Instagram – so stay tuned for more as I go through this for the next couple of months!
As a part of my scholarship with Three Sisters Yoga, I am sharing my personal experiences of the 200 YTT program with you here throughout the program. All of the content, words, ideas, and opinions are my own.
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