The Path of a Yoga Teacher: An Interview with Marianne Wells
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“A yoga teacher” is probably not the first answer you will hear from most kids when you ask “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. So how is it that someone decides to follow this path? How do you realize that teaching yoga is your passion and you want to live out of it?
At BookYogaRetreats.com, we had the opportunity to conduct a Q&A session with Marianne Wells. We talked about her career as a yoga teacher, how she started, the way she helps new instructors, and her advice to yogis who aspire to teach yoga and make it a profession. Read on and get inspired by her story!
How did you end up being a yoga teacher and leading retreats?
As a young woman, I never had a notion that my life would take this wonderful path. I was initially interested in teaching kids, but after getting married and having two children, my creative side blossomed, and I earned a Fine Arts degree from Indiana University. I landed my dream job in THE advertising agency in town. Yet, after a while I found it did not fulfill my spirit.
That’s when I recommitted to my regular yoga practice. I found myself while on the mat, and pursued yoga with passion. Teaching yoga found me. People in classes asked me how to improve their asana practice. My guru told me it was time for me to teach - that she saw gifts in me. I hold her words sacred forever.
My teaching circle grew quickly - I was teaching all over the cities in various venues - from a federal prison for men, to church basements, community centers, and traditional yoga studios. I honed my skill as a teacher, and saw that the impact of a strong relationship with a yoga teacher can influence one’s lifestyle and relationship choices.
A small group of students requested I lead them on a yoga vacation to warm weather during the winter. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, a yoga retreat center in Costa Rica asked me to host yoga teacher training programs in the off-season. Since I was already conducting them in my home studio, it seemed natural to move to Costa Rica. I’ve been blessed to host students in this country for years now.
Did you set goals about where you wanted to be?
I was open to the possibilities, willing to take risks, taking the side roads where I think the journey of life is always more interesting. I guess in some way there are general goals about my life, but being anchored in something like that would make me feel too expectation-oriented. It was, and always will be, about the process, not the outcome that I focus on. One is the result of the other. Do the right things regularly and the universe will unfold.
What inspires you in life?
I like to set things in motion - many things at once - and let what is to be unfold, be unfolded itself to me. I strive very hard to live what I speak. And give in service to my students from the heart. This has allowed me to manifest a wonderful life that I share with students from around the world. My husband and I always wanted to travel the world. Through our teachings in Costa Rica, the world travels to us. I’m fascinated with the various cultures and yet, we all want the same thing - to be loved - for ourselves and others.
What projects are you currently working on?
Reflecting on the years of teaching, and hearing from how it has touched my students, I have come to realize that a new style of teaching yoga has emerged. What we now call Really Real YogaTM, focuses on observing each student in the space, giving each of them what they need that day, and opening the heart. It is about adapting to the student’s needs on that given day, not the student adapting to the method. We have a few book projects in the works at the request of my students. Look for these in 2017.
I will also be teaching yoga at a fundraiser for the Bronx Zoo in NYC this summer. I’m really excited to give back to an organization so focused on preserving wildlife around the world, including habitat. Birds, sloths, monkeys, even silky anteaters come to visit us all the time in Costa Rica. We want to preserve that experience for generations to come.
How do you conduct your teacher trainings?
We live the yoga lifestyle throughout our days together. Days are filled with yoga practice, self inquiry, studies of philosophy and anatomy, posture workshops, teaching practicum, discussions of energy bodies, positive outlooks on life, and service to others. We partner with yoga retreat centers that provide all that we need to allow us to progress through each day with clean eating, clean thinking, and a clean outlook on the possibility of each day.
One student referred to the training as “soul rehab” from our modern existence. We attract a wonderful international village of like-minded people seeking to improve their lives and the lives of others. Every session is special and meaningful in various ways to each participant. I love it!
What advice do you share with your students?
Yoga teaching is a sacred responsibility. Know what you teach. Teach what you know.
You’ve got to commit to your yoga practice and studies to be a great yoga teacher.
Have a daily private yoga practice - with sincerity and devotion. One finds tremendous growth through personal inquiry.
Chase the dream, not the money. If you focus on the process, the outcome will unfold in unimaginable ways. Ways that will nourish your soul as you build a loving community of like-minded people. Be willing to take the side roads. Even failures teach us about ourselves. Don’t let the fear hold you back. Allow your soul to soar to higher vibrations.
Come join us any time you are free! All are welcome to just be in the moment.
Ready to become a yoga teacher? Go to BookYogaRetreats.com and search among hundreds of yoga teacher courses all over the world!