It’s crazy how fast time passes. It seems like only yesterday I was starting my own journey as a Luna Teacher Trainee and now I have had the pleasure of seeing two more years’ worth of trainees graduate. I make it a priority to attend the graduation ceremony, not only because I love to be a witness to the incredible journey of the students, but also it’s an important reminder to myself of how far I have come on my own path. This year I not only got to witness their growth through the training as one of the teachers at the studio, but I also got to assist Frances as a co-teacher during the Asana & Assists weekends. It was truly an honour to share my knowledge with this past year’s trainees and it was privilege to be able to attend their graduation ceremony, having been a part of their journey through teacher training.
We often forget how far we’ve come, we’re so eager to be onto the next step, to achieve the next goal, to push ourselves onward and upward, but that can sometimes leave us feeling like there’s something lacking. It’s important to appreciate how far you’ve come and give yourself credit where credit is due. So I used this moment at the end of an important year in the lives of these trainees, to also appreciate my own growth, as a person and as a teacher, the work I have put in and the progress I have made, and to offer gratitude to those who have encouraged me and supported me. Thank you to all the beautiful trainees who opened their hearts and minds this year, and thank you to Jenn and Frances for always being supportive of the trainees and teachers alike, and cultivating this space that gives so many of us a chance to develop ourselves, to delve further into the world of yoga and to be a part of such an incredible community.
A little over 2 years ago I walked into Luna Yoga for the very first time to attend their 2017 teacher training info session. Before even getting into the studio proper, I sat on a wood bench on the lower level trying to calm my nerves. An other trainee-in-waiting was there, and we chatted about our lives and what brought us to Luna. After a while a new smiling face came in and sat down next to me, asked about my yoga journey and why I was thinking of doing the training. Little did I know, but that smiling face belonged to Jennifer Maagendans (Luna owner, teacher training leader and all around amazing human being). It all began with that first interaction. That feeling of total acceptance. That was the moment I knew that I wanted to do to my yoga teacher training at Luna. That was the moment that I knew I had found my spiritual home base.
Looking back, I can see just how much those 10 months of training changed me. How each weekend stripped away layers of protective armour that I held so tightly in front of my heart & mind, armour that kept me from stepping into the life that was waiting for me. That learning about yogic principles, anatomy and asana assists would shine so much light inward, and encourage so much growth and self-discovery. I learned just as much about myself as I did yoga.
A year ago I accepted my diploma from the same smiling face that greeted me back in 2017.
The entire teaching staff has been a source of continued support and inspiration, and I am so thankful for each of their wonderful souls. Luna Yoga, its teachers and its staff have changed my life, and I am forever grateful to the amazing community they continue to build down at their little slice of heaven on St-Paul Street.
I remember the first day of teacher training. I was apprehensive, uncomfortable and sooo excited. I sat crouched in the back of the room while the rest of the class sat in a half circle up front. I already had a nutrition career that still excited me - this was my "continuing education" in life. My yoga practice had helped me in so many ways - I came here to find out why. What I didn't know then, and what I still can't express, is the unbelievable life-changing event that started that first day. I sat through 10 months of learning, sharing, growing my practice. Every step into the studio and onto the mat was more exciting as the layers of my tightly bound shell started to strip away.
And as I sat outside of the studio during this year’s teacher training graduation ceremony, listening to this year's graduates sharing their final thoughts and hopes, all of those memories came flooding back. The anxiety of walking in that first day replaced by the anxiety of training being over and done, the group dissipating and the unlimited, generous support of my teachers over. Except that it wasn't. I wanted so badly to walk into the studio and tell them that it's all perfectly ok. The group may go off but what they've shared is always an email away. My teachers are still there, supporting and encouraging my growth in 100 different directions. And if anyone would have told me that graduation day that I would be sitting as a teacher, supporting the newest graduates on their journey, having modified a career into a lifestyle practice because of the encouragement and generosity of what I learned within those same 4 walls, I wouldn't have believed a second of it. So what I hope for the graduates is that they keep an open mind and spirit, and not say no to where this end/start may lead them. And always know that Luna, its teachers and teachings, are there as their safety net. Om shanti - love and light.
Oh - and because I still love to share food and cooking as my best expressions of emotion - I baked about 100 brownies for the lovely graduates. And in the spirit of sharing (this is adapted from www.noracooks.com/vegan-brownies-recipe/):
Best Ever Vegan Brownies
1/4 cup ground flax
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup vegan butter, melted *****IF USING SALTED BUTTER, OMIT ADDING SALT IN RECIPE
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour (can use gluten free flour mix like Robin Hood or Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips OR roughly chopped chocolate pieces
Make the flax eggs by stirring the ground flax and water in a small bowl. Set aside to thicken for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 7 x 11 pan with parchment paper.
Melt the vegan butter so that it measures 2/3 cup melted.
In a large bowl, whisk the melted vegan butter and sugars together. Add the flax eggs and vanilla, whisk until evenly combined.
Over the same large bowl, sift in the flour and cocoa powder. Add the salt and stir with a large wooden spoon until just combined, do not overmix.
Fold in half of the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spoon or your hands. Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips on top of the batter.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the middle of the brownies no longer jiggles and is just set.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then pull the brownies out, using the parchment paper and let cool for at least an hour before slicing.