I Fell In Love

I fell in Love:

The truth is, I am a teacher and apparently I have always been a teacher. I haven’t always relished or fully embraced the role of teacher.  Internally I see myself as mostly student.  I love learning.  I seek – crave – desire learning. It’s a quirk.  I devour books and truly only become focused and clear when absorbing information. For much of my life the only time I felt connected to something larger than myself was when I was learning.   Then came yoga.

Oh make no mistake when I found yoga (or more precisely when it found me) I was still in learning mode, definitely full and complete absorption. When yoga and I met all other learning seemed to lose its shine.  At the time yoga and I started to get to know each other I was in a masters program that suddenly held no interest for me, I was cheating on my first love “higher education” and I quickly dropped out and devoted myself to my new interest.  I had found a better way to fell connected.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before yoga and I began our dance I hadn’t just been a student … I had already been teaching as well – High School Drama and Corporate Training to be specific and although both held much appeal and seemed to suite me in many ways, I never felt completely at home, or as if it was the THING I should do.  Something was missing.  Basically I was teaching, but didn’t feel like a teacher.  I mostly just felt lost, scared and confused with bright spots in my life.  Like amazing children and finally meeting a great man to help me raise them… and that’s where things changed (personally I think it’s because fate is nosey and bossy, but that’s just one woman’s opinion).

I married this amazing man and stuck it out with my mostly unsatisfying corporate training job, where I might have stayed had fate not dealt a cruel blow.  I was widowed.  The day my husband passed something broke and I went to a dark, dark, dark place.   About a month after he died I woke up one day (it was a Wednesday) and said “I can’t live like this – I heard that yoga can help people with sadness – I am going to a class today!”   I was strung out on xanax and can honestly say I have no idea where I had gotten the notion that yoga could help in these situations…but nonetheless I went online and found the closest class I could make it to…Noon Yoga C1, Corepower Cherry Creek.

I fell in love. And yoga responded by saving my life.

Sound farfetched? Oversimplified? Maybe, but it’s the god’s honest truth. In hindsight I can’t even pretend to not see how I was forced to finally get on my path…but I’m skipping ahead.

I went into yoga heart first. I was the weeping girl in savasana. I sometimes cried from the moment I walked into the studio.  Partly because I was stiff, sore and overweight and the classes were in no small way physically easy, outside of the emotional baggage!

I was going to multiple classes a day. This stuff worked!!  I was losing weight, feeling better, getting off the antidepressants, and amazingly, engaging in life.   Only a few months in, I took my first teacher training. Not necessarily to teach, but to learn.

I fell in love.  And yoga repaid me by giving me a calling.

I met my first teacher, whom I still love, adore and worship to this day.  Alanna Kaivalya, The Kaivalya Yoga Method.   I still echo her words even though it would be some time before I stepped into my role of teacher.   She is a part of the tapestry that has become my path.   She gave me a love for chanting and mythology that has led me further into my studies. Alanna took me to my first Kirtan and there I found another teacher in Dave Stringer! At her feet I rediscovered the divine.  She sparkled and reminded me that I had once sparkled too.

During yoga teacher training a guest teacher came to give us a workshop and I was introduced to restorative yoga and a very tantric outlook on yoga.

I fell in love. And yoga repaid me by giving me another teacher.

That guest teacher would become my next muse. Miss Shannon Paige Schneider, OmTime Yoga; Anjali Restorative Yoga, Moving Muse.   Under her guidance I sat at the feet of Douglas Brooks and Carlos Pomeda and my view of yoga would be forever shaped in a certain direction.  At her studio I took classes from Amy Ippoliti and the Anusara seed was planted, yet at the end of the day it was the TANTRA that sang to my soul.

Over the years I took many classes and several 100’s of hours of workshops.  From Paul Grilley to Baron Baptiste; From Hot Yoga to Kundalini;  From brand new teachers to some really bitter burned out teachers too – and I loved them all…. Eventually I began teaching consistently and that’s when I discovered something.

I fell in love.  And yoga repaid me by connecting me to the divine.

The shift was happening. I was moving from strictly student to teacher, but I still felt so unprepared, so inadequate, so scared and yet, and yet when I taught, it was like I could finally see clearly.  And no matter what else was happening in my life, no matter how I felt before I got there…the minute I started teaching . . . Pure Joy.

You see I don’t want to teach – I NEED to teach.

So I do. I teach. And I’ve been told I have a gift. I know it feels that way…it’s a gift for me to be able to teach.   The journey continues….

Oh heavens the story is too much. How I got where I am and why. I will explain, no there is too much, I will sum up.  I moved, fell in love again (because apparently I am the luckiest woman alive), remarried, and started teaching more.  And then, somewhere along the way, I knew to keep teaching I needed my own teacher.  I have been seeking that teacher for nearly two years now… looking, researching, testing and for two years nothing really inspired me beyond own studies and my own teaching.

Now during this time I studied to become a certified hypnotherapist and studied yoga Nidra and I created my own brand, so to say, of yoga called HypnoRestorative Yoga.  But still I wanted a guru.  A teacher.  I kept researching.  Sure taking Alanna’s class in Bali sounded awesome…but remember I’m a yoga teacher and flights to Bali aren’t exactly high on my possibility list! Besides as much as I love her, I just felt there was a different direction for me. So I waited, and along the way I became a grandma.

I fell in love.  And yoga rewarded me with a new direction.

I moved to be close to my grandson.  I left behind students and a thriving yoga community. I leapt.  It hasn’t always been easy, but something wonderful happened.  One incident after another led me to Rod Stryker and Para Yoga – People I have met, teachers I have worked with, teachers I have hired for workshops — all have brought me back to this man and his work and his teachings.  I sat at his feet recently.

I fell in love. And yoga rewarded me with my next teacher.

But alas unless things changed drastically financially I couldn’t imagine HOW I would sit  at his feet again.  I was online…I found the scholarship program. I was AMAZED to see ParaYoga listed.  Is it silly of me to say it just seemed like fate?  Silly or not, I once again I had that fated “it is meant to be” feeling.

So here I am.  Typing my abbreviated yoga story — yeah abbreviated, scary huh? –  Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life’s calling is to teach yoga and I believe that I am meant to be the best possible teacher I can possibly be and to achieve that I must continually put on the mantel of student.

And I fall in love all over again.  And yoga rewards me by letting me both teacher and student.

The program asked 4 questions.

Why do you want to become a yoga teacher?

I say: Because it is my dharma.  Because I love it and nothing gives me greater joy than sharing that love with others.

Who are your favorite yoga teachers and how did they inspire you?

My late husband Robert LaFavor-  who taught me to love and from there the rest was easy.

My Husband Carl Giles-Courtwright – who inspires me everyday with his undying affection, faith and support.

Alanna Kaivlya – she gave me back my hope my smile and my laughter.

Shannon Paige –Schneider – for teaching me fierce love and radical self-acceptance  Paul Grilley –  for reminding me it’s OK to think for myself.

Lanita Varshell for reminding me that yoga is for every body.

Jen Brooks for teaching me to follow my heart.

Rachel Walsh for helping me fully embrace my role as teacher.

Nova Sprick for helping me believe again.

Laura Brown – for teaching me to believe in myself and to not be afraid to act and pursue my dreams.

My family and friends who teach me everyday about myself and life.

And all the masters, gurus and seekers that have come before and paved the way. Their books and teachings inspire me daily.

Why do you want to take a yoga teacher training with the school you have chosen?

I believe I have finally found a school/teacher (Rod Stryker @ ParaYoga) that will take me in the direction I am destined to go…I believe this is the learning that will help me fulfill my dharma.

How do you plan to make an impact in the world as a yoga teacher?

Igniting passion.  Living Joyously.  Sharing Laughter.  Radical Self Affirmations.

Love. Imagination.  Peace and tranquility.

Balance = Strength = Vitality. You, Fully Realized.

One person, one student, one smile and one day at time until we reach a critical state of love,  joy and contentment.

And in the deepest well of my heart I want to mentor and help other teachers fully step into their power…I suppose I want to be a teacher’s teacher and help people move from training to teaching, for it is my belief that when we all accept and share are divine gifts fully that is when the world will become the magnificent garden it is meant to be.

Bow your head to your heart – as we move through life may we honor this connection by leading with a heart full of love and guiding with a mind full of compassion.

Namaste.

2012 Yoga Scholarship Essay

By: Aminda Courtwright

If you liked this article and want them to win a free yoga teacher training, then make sure to vote for her by leaving a comment (scroll all the way to the bottom), and sharing this article on Facebook or Twitter. Each comment, Facebook, and Twitter share counts as one vote and you can do all three!

Are you interested in becoming a yoga teacher? Then visit our Yoga School Directory to find the right teacher training. Or, visit our Yoga Retreats page to explore beautiful yoga vacations from around the world.

Join the Conversation

  1. Cheryl Griesinger says:

    Aminda has an interesting, loving, giving and generous spirit. I believe she will be an asset to the program and many others will benefit from her learning.

  2. Kimberli Baker says:

    What a beautiful and moving essay. If there is anyone born to this earth to teach and share, it’s Aminda. I loved hearing the story of your journey thus far, and I can’t wait to hear the next chapter!

  3. Kathy says:

    Yoga was a scary experience for me in the 4-5 classes that I experienced before I took a class with Aminda. I now can see the merit of yoga and tentatively consider more experiences with it. She inspired me to try it and helped me to modify the positions. I honor the teacher that she has become and I believe she can grow with this scholarship!

    • aminda says:

      thank you dear. I hope you will always find the nurturing support you need and deserve you are such and inspiration and joy to me!

  4. Jesse Brickzin says:

    Good Luck Aminda.you deserve such an honor…

  5. JoLinda VanHaren says:

    Aminda is a magical women to whom people are instantly drawn to because of her enthusiasm for life. She constantly share information to help others and she has the greatest sense of humor on the planet. She has a deep respect for life and is an ardent animal activist. I know, I have one of her foster dogs, Lol! Ilove to read her posts and the articles she has written for “Elephant Journal”. If anyone deserves to have their dream come true, it would be this awesome lady who has helped and mentored so many through her teachings.

  6. Shelly says:

    What a beautiful story. I am inspired. Thanks for sharing this, Aminda.

  7. bev fong says:

    thumbs up

  8. Elizabeth LaFavor says:

    Beautiful. Amazing. I teared up by the third paragraph. You deserve this, and I know you will make it to where you’re supposed to be. You’re so incredibly inspiring and wonderful. So much love and respect for you. <3

  9. Kim Pierce says:

    Good luck Aminda. You deserve this.

  10. christina says:

    inspiring- glad you shared this with me (o;

  11. Brody Goodman says:

    I love you Aminda. I pray you get this.

  12. Jezaree says:

    Aminda, you truly are an amazing, beautiful blessing to this world. Thank you so much for reminding me always of what I already know, showing me ambition and determination through your difficult steps and inspiring unconditional love for life and yoga.

  13. diane says:

    I read you story because my good friend lizzie asked people to post a comment and i thought what would it hurt and i truly belive that you should get the scholorship you sound like a great person :) good luck!

  14. marissa e. lulling says:

    Aminda, you beautiful soul. My best wishes to you through all… ~~ <3

  15. Dawn says:

    beautiful!

  16. Chad Corradini says:

    I have the pleasure of teaching at the same studio as Aminda. I knew she was an inspiring teacher, and I learned a lot about her by reading this essay. Beautiful soul, high integrity, very deserving of this honor.

  17. K says:

    What a lovely story! Much love and luck to you :-)

  18. Melanie says:

    Good luck, Aminda!! <3

  19. Natasha says:

    Such a beautiful story – wow. I especially love how you plan to make an impact on the world as a yoga teacher – truly inspirational, all of it. Best wishes to you as you begin this journey and continue paying it forward and making a difference in the lives of so many.

  20. brigitt widmer says:

    Aminda is truly an inspiring teacher. She has a natural way with others that is very inviting to be present. Many times I find myself moved to tears by her touch and her messages as she teaches. I wish her well on her journey to continue to be the best version of herself. For herself, and all those who are touched by her.

  21. Brian Copeland says:

    Cool!

  22. nova says:

    An inspiring story from a women who is possessed with a desire for personal growth and using that growth to help spread love around the world.

  23. Benjamin LaFavor says:

    Thanks for sharing your passion and love with the world Aunt Aminda. I cant think of a person who deserves this training more. Thank you for having the courage to do what you love, following your bliss, and being an inspiration to others.
    Lots of Love from Ben

  24. Elizabeth says:

    Aminda is awesome! If someone this passionate and committed doesn’t deserve a scholarship, then I don’t know who does!

  25. Douglas Grant says:

    I’ve known Aminda from the day she was born, and I know that through yoga (and teaching it,) she is more alive than she has ever been. She should have the opportunity to share that experience and knowledge.

  26. Angela says:

    Aminda is an incredible inspiration and has a wonderful gift to share with the world.

  27. Kevin says:

    It’s impossible to imagine a more natural teacher than Aminda. My physical practice improved dramatically as a result of her classes, but it’s a rare instructor that can speak from her own life on so many topics – all while making the rest of yoga’s limbs, those weird Eastern concepts, make sense and apply to even the most uninitiated Western mind. Yoga class was never just gym class with Aminda, although we might not have realized it until later :)

  28. Jeet says:

    Aminda, your write-up provides all the reasons why you should be a yoga teacher. There is nothing more that anyone can write which would present a better case than what you already shared with us. Your real-life experience will bring a personal touch to your instruction, and benefit all your students. All the best!

  29. Leticia Flores says:

    Aminda conducted my training class at my first big corporate job. She is very professional and intelligent… FUN and not to mention, A BREATH OF FRESH AIR! She is an amazing woman… Inside and Out and she deserves this more than anyone 😉 Love you Aminda! 😉 You INSPIRE Me!

    -Leticia

  30. marilee r torres says:

    just as a ”social network” friend i have come to know this woman and learned through her sharing. she has a great spirit to welcome others and teach thru her sharing.

  31. Carrie Wade says:

    Aminda, yet again, you have inspired me.

  32. fran weller says:

    I feel the same way Aminda feels. I have fallen in love also. I have been doing Bikram Yoga for nine years! I would love to go to the teacher training but alas even though i always say “Momma, give me money!” before Standing Bow pose I still do not have the MONEY!

    I want to go to teacher training to deepen my practice and for the experience and because I just want to!

    So hopefully I will manifest the MONEY and be able to go – soon!

    Namaste!

    I know what it is to find your life. Yoga is my life too!

    wish i had someone to share my life with but i am so consumed with my first love Bikram Yoga i do not even worry about it.

    Fran Weller

    • aminda says:

      open to grace my dear the right thing will manifest…your heart will continue to guide you in the right direction. ps have you read Rod’s book the four desires??? you should join our book group 😉

  33. Sarah says:

    Aminda is passionate, has a wealth of knowledge about yoga (asana, meditation, pranayama, etc.) and has a way about her that is truly inspirational. She has healed me on so many levels and I continue to grow and learn each time she guides me in my personal practice… I consider her a mentor on so many levels.

  34. Mara says:

    As a corporate trainer you were fun, informative, engaging, and honest; you were making a difference in people’s lives even then…I would love to deepen my practice by taking a yoga class from you. Good luck to you on this next step in your journey! <3

  35. Carolyn Brown says:

    Aminda’s message overwhelmed me. May she be blessed with this opportunity.

  36. Clara says:

    I am moved and touched by your story. I look forward to seeing what will unfold as you continue to dive deep to retrieve the sublime teachings of ParaYoga. Good luck!

  37. Kate says:

    I attended one of Aminda’s HypnoRestorative classes when she was in AZ last month. She is incredible and I can only imagine the love and compassion she will share by attending this training.

  38. Lisa Wilhelm says:

    Aminda epitomizes the yoga lifestyle by practicing her own unique brand of yoga every bit as much off the mat as she does on the mat. She is one of the warmest and most genuine people I’ve ever known. The more she can learn, the better off everyone who knows her will be because she is so excellent at and passionate about sharing her wisdom and knowledge with others.

  39. Meghan Canada says:

    Much love to you Aminda!!

  40. Diana says:

    What a beautiful, heart-filled story, Aminda – I hold this scholarship for you in the space of divinely guided DONE-ness.

  41. Julie Birman says:

    A great teacher teaches from what they have experienced themselves. Aminda has experienced great transformations and will be able to help guide and inspire others through the process.

  42. Susan Nichols says:

    Each time I meet Aminda I feel happy…and important…she is a true gift to all who encounter her spirit. Good luck!!

  43. jackie says:

    “I fell in love. And yoga responded by saving my life.” me too, sweetie. Me too. Yay, you!

  44. cheryl says:

    Beautiful & inspiring

  45. Jennifer Cusano says:

    You go girl. You are so deserving of this!

  46. Eduardo says:

    very nice! namaste!

  47. Bri Comstock says:

    Wishing you the best, you absolutely deserve this!

  48. mia says:

    wow, this a great story & so well written. you rock, AMINDA!

  49. Elaine says:

    Beautiful story Aminda! Namaste’

  50. Pencopal says:

    Amazing!

  51. Kitty says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Thank you, Aminda.

  52. Nancy Arient says:

    Beautiful story, Aminda!

  53. Carl Stodola says:

    Aminda is wonderful. She brings together all of the aspects of Yoga and makes it personal for each person. Would not enjoy yoga without her guidance.

  54. Kathy says:

    Aminda is inspiring and makes all of her students feel powerful and loved! She was born to teach!

  55. Joan Isenberg says:

    Your yoga classes are the best I have ever taken. I miss them terribly. Good luck. Namaste.

  56. Justin Johnson says:

    I can’t think of anyone more suited to receive this Aminda! You are the best!

  57. Marilyn says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart….I am holding the vision of you receiving your scholarship. Blessings, Sat Nam.

  58. Denise Vaughan says:

    You are an amazing woman and I am proud to call you family!

  59. Lori Cargill says:

    You have a beautiful story, good luck. You deserve this!

  60. Lauri LaFavor says:

    Yes, yes, yes! You deserve this!

  61. Tracy Heirigs says:

    I had the opportunity recently to sit next to Aminda during a yoga class and participate in a class she taught. She was great to be around. Her humility and understanding of life/love/yoga was so apparent. I only wish that she offered class where I live so that I could benefit more from her inner wisdom.

  62. Just Sage says:

    The empowerment of knowledge with the ability to share is a beautiful gift and I hope you obtain the scholarship to help push you forward in your dreams and passions.

  63. Candice says:

    Wonderful!

  64. Kelley says:

    An inspiring, heartfelt and touching story! I have taken Aminda’s classes and benefited from her wisdom, strength and beauty. The “right” thing will happen for Aminda, so my vote is probably a formality more than anything; but she deserves this:). She will pay this amazing opportunity forward and many will benefit. GOOD LUCK, AMINDA!

  65. Andrew Whitten says:

    An extraordinary tale from an immensely talented teacher and a deeply feeling human being. There is no one more deserving of this scholarship.

  66. Keiko Woodyard says:

    The thing I love best about this essay is that this is really how you talk about yoga and your life, every day, every moment.

  67. JenB says:

    I love Aminda…. And so will YOU!

  68. Emily Hanka says:

    I, too, have benefited from Aminda’s classes & her wisdom. What a journey – yes, please give this scholarship to Aminda!

  69. Staci says:

    Aminda – not only an inspiring and real story, but it comes through in every class you teach. I had the opportunity to be your student last year and am forever grateful. You have such a warm and humble approach to yoga, you also provide love and support and a sense of humor, all incredible and meaningful. Thank you for your teachings, you deserve this scholarship. I wish I could vote for you 14 million times.

  70. Sandi Greenberg says:

    If there’s such a thing as “deserve” or “getting what you give”, this should be coming your way, Aminda! <3

  71. Tammy Schwenk says:

    what a truly beautful and inspiring story. thanks so much for sharing with the world.

  72. Marq T Laube says:

    From “High School Drama and Corporate Training” to Yoga! What a great story!

  73. Sara Turner McCann says:

    Aminda is amazing!! Inspiring, devoted and deserving. :)

  74. Dani King says:

    Thank you for sharing this story

  75. Annie Brooks says:

    Aminda has never done anything in her life unless it is with all her heart, soul, body and mind going in at 100%. She would be a gift to anything she pours herself into. It would be a loss to the program if she didn’t get this. She is so deserving of getting something in her life, because she has spent most of it giving to others.

  76. deb says:

    Well said, Aminda. You deserve it!

  77. Demi says:

    Aminda sounds like the ideal choice for this scholarship!

  78. mia says:

    go, aminda, go!

  79. Sheree Mullen says:

    So inspiring to read – go for it!!

  80. aminda says:

    this is almost overwhelming. I want to reply to each message individually just to show how much gratitude and love I have for each of you…but alas I don’t know if I will get around to it…so please know how much appreciate your words and your support!

    I am beyond blessed.

  81. Jules says:

    Go aminda!!!!
    Love love love

  82. Ken Christian says:

    This is a lovely account of one human journey to the center of herself.

  83. Ken Christian says:

    I love this video and this essay. Tender. Rings true. Someone courageously finding her way back to her heart.

  84. Ryb Katz says:

    Aminda has the biggest and ‘oldest’ heart and soul. She would be an amazing candidate for this scholarship. She personifies what a yoga instructor should be and inspires her students to be their best in all areas of their lives. Best of luck!

  85. Mark White says:

    Aminda, May the Divine embrace your heart with your next yoga teacher. Peace.

  86. Pamela says:

    Aminda, I love how you’ve gone after your dream and how your dream has become your calling. I hope you win this scholarship! Much love!

  87. Dawn says:

    What I really appreciate about you Aminda is your REALness. You are frank, open, honest, incredibly funny and compassionate. In my mind, the ideal teacher :) Many blessings my dear, I know your dharma as a yoga teacher will serve many! xoxo

  88. Melanie Goodman says:

    LOVE!!! Love to you and your amazing journey!

  89. Shanon says:

    Studying with Rod is an empowering choice. He really is one of the few great ones.

  90. Margann Green says:

    Wonderful essay! I hope she wins the scholarship so she can further share her gift of teaching.

  91. Melissa says:

    How lucky are we to be on the path, guided by such masters. May the fire that’s been ignited in your heart continue to spread through your living your dharma!

  92. Leanne says:

    I can feel yoursweet power! I hope you win!

  93. Kathie says:

    Good Luck!

  94. Nancy Fellenz says:

    I cannot express how deeply your story has touched me. It is obvious that yoga is your highest expression of life and that you have shared that gift with so many others. I hope to be among those in January. Thank you for being the beautiful soul you seem to be .

  95. Tori Palmer says:

    What a great essay! You deserve this chance….

  96. Barbara says:

    With Aminda greeting you at the door of the yoga class, what you see is what you get. Immediately, intensely, intelligently, and accompanied with her infectious belly laugh. She teaches, she shares, she gives it away, and it only makes her stronger and more generous.

  97. Suzanne says:

    A beautiful individual and a beautiful yogini who speaks from her heart about the transformative power of yoga . . . And the transformative power of love!

    Aminda, you will make an amazing Para Yoga Teacher!
    Suzanne

  98. Joan Isenberg says:

    Aminda, You are an awe-inspiring, amazing teacher already. I can’t imagine how you could possibly be better. Your classes are the best I have ever taken. You so deserve this scholarship.

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