On a whim about a year ago, I wrote to my pal Cyndi Lee and told her I wanted to sign up for her 500-hour yoga teacher training. But the minute I hit “send,” I panicked. How could I commit to two 10-day intensives plus all the other requirements? I secretly hoped that either (a) my email would somehow get lost in the cyber-ether or (b) she’d say, “Oh Sparrowe, no you don’t.” Instead, she loved the idea.

 

I wasn’t quite sure why I did it. I’ve been teaching yoga and studying the ancient texts for years, writing and speaking about it even longer. I’ve studied with some of the most amazing teachers from a variety of styles and traditions. But still, I wanted something more. I suppose a desire to go “legit” initially drove me to reach out— I got tired of saying I wasn’t Yoga Allianced. And, although I never really cared about that one way or another, my non-compliance with the Alliance did make guest teaching at teacher training workshops a little more complicated. In reality, I just wanted an excuse to immerse myself in yoga — to show up every day for several hours and dive deeper into the philosophy as well as dissect the practical. And in the process hopefully reconnect with and appreciate myself a little bit more.

 

So why the panic? Because I already had more deadlines than I could possibly handle. I couldn’t imagine being “offline” and not writing for ten days at a stretch. And honestly, teaching in front of seasoned teachers is harder than teaching students. What if I suck? What if I just think I’m a good teacher? I hemmed and hawed for almost a month — yes, I’m in; no, I can’t possibly — until I walked through the studio door the first night of the training and settled in. And hundreds of hours later, after we received our advanced teaching certificates, hugged, laughed, cried, and promised to stay in touch, I walked out a better teacher. And quite possibly a nicer person.

 

When I saw that Cyndi had a new website and she was getting ready to do another 500-hour training, I decided to send her an unsolicited testimonial, which would also help me unpack why the OM Yoga teacher training worked so well for me. So here are 5 reasons I came up with:

 

1.  The Om 500 combines structure with creativity, two hallmarks of what makes OM, well … OM. Cyndi provides the templates for creating the quintessential OM practice and then encourages her teacher trainees to build upon them in safe but creative ways.

2.  As anyone knows who has ever taken a class with me or heard me speak, bringing the authentic teachings onto the mat is what distinguishes yoga from a physical workout. Cyndi spends a lot of time talking about how you do that — without subjecting your students to endless pontificating or lecturing.

3. I’m both a Buddhist and a yoga practitioner, so Cyndi’s ability to seamlessly weave those two traditions into her teaching — and her life — has helped me do the same.

4.  The 10-day intensives bring teachers together in an intimate setting that encourages fascinating conversations, mutual support, and lots of time for yoga, meditation, teaching, asking questions, and sharing.

5.  A big plus for me: Cyndi is funny! And she encourages a lightness of being that I appreciate. I have long been of the opinion that if yoga doesn’t make me smile, doesn’t bring me joy — both as a student and as teacher — then what the hell’s the point?