I didn’t intend to become a yoga teacher. I was 26 years old ambitious, accomplished, but I lacked direction. I found myself asking those questions that plague us all at one point or another, “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” I really needed to figure out what to do with my life, and more importantly at that time, I needed to make money. A teaching opportunity fell in my lap when a business owner of a health clinic asked me to start teaching yoga in his space.
By the end of it, I knew I had found my calling. Having always loved teaching others, and seeing the light of true understanding go on in them, teaching yoga came easily to me. That first impromptu class led me on the journey to my eventual yoga teacher training, and ultimately changed the course of my life.
Here’s how it happened… It all started with Bryan Kest. My first class with him, and every class after, left me truly inspired. I stepped off my mat thinking, “I got it!!” Bryan Kest has the innate ability to bring life to the yoga mat and to take you beyond a yoga practice and into a practice for life skills. To me, he was the yoga version of Tony Robbins and for years I had wanted to be the next Tony Robbins. I realized Bryan’s stage was his yoga studio and his audience were the practitioners on mats. It was genius and I loved it. In his classes I was inspired and felt I had returned home.
Shortly after meeting Bryan, my friend, colleague and mentor, Wade Morissette, asked me what my practice was. Not exactly clear about what he meant, I simply told him, “I just get on my mat and do whatever I’m told.” His next words changed my life: “Aaron, you need a practice.” Wade was a serious devotee of Pattabhi Jois’s Ashtanga, which he shared with me. Over the next few years I became a serious zealot of the practice, which provided a structure and worked me through a full set of positions, and I would wake up an hour and a half early just to complete it every day.
After a couple of years I decided to take a weeklong yoga teacher training with David Swenson. David’s approach to teaching was simple. He explained pranayama this way -” it’s like sticking your finger in an electric socket. Without preparation, the experience is electrifying.” To this day, he remains in the deepest chambers of my heart. I am forever grateful for learning how to make yoga accessible to everyone.
Then in 2001, while living in New York City, I found another teacher. His name was Rod Stryker. I walked into my first class with him thinking I knew everything and was astounded that I was even there. I was full of arrogance and truly believed he had nothing new to teach me. Despite that, something unknown drew me in. By the second day with Rod I knew that he was to be my teacher and I registered for his yoga teacher training. Even though my head was swollen in thinking I was such a great yogi, Rod’s knowledge of yoga was refreshing, unique and far surpassed anyone I had ever met. It was through Rod I developed a deep devotional practice that cultivated who I am as a teacher today.
After years of being a teacher, and participating in various teacher trainings, I am still amazed at how vast the undiscovered world of yoga really is. With its infinite possibilities, it grows every single day. I still hold immense gratitude to all of my teachers and the trainings I have participated in. They have shaped me profoundly and my life has continued to evolve and change because of them.
Yogi Aaron, author of “Autobiography of a Naked Yogi”, brings passion and adventure to his teaching. Inspired, he guides students to secret and far-flung locales, empowers them to realize their own limitless potential, and makes yoga relevant and accessible for the modern world. Since 2002 he has been traveling and leading retreats worldwide and currently serves as the yoga director at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in Costa Rica. Follow Yogi Aaron on Facebook.