Rooted on the Earth: My Teacher Training Journey

by M. Patricia Diaz

“I just want to practice yoga,” I said when I was asked what bucket-list adventure I would undertake on my 30th anniversary of being cancer free.

That wish took shape in my mind as a yoga teacher training, and I knew that Kripalu would be the perfect place for it. I’d never practiced Kripalu Yoga before, but I’d read about it and watched a few videos. I love that Kripalu Yoga emphasizes meditation and breathwork, and encourages introspection and spirituality. The focus on health, wellness, the spiritual connection, and the gentle approach were what I was looking for to deepen my practice. My inner guide knew exactly what she was doing, and kept nudging me in the right direction.

It took some planning and research, but it came together smoothly—as if all I had to do was decide that I would go, and then, like magic, the path cleared for me. The finances showed up, I had flexibility at work, and I found a perfect place for my pooch to stay in my absence.

Once at Kripalu, I discovered that the other teachers-in-training were from various parts of the United States, Canada, and the world. My roommates and I alone represented four countries! The nervousness I’d felt about sleeping in the same room with strangers quickly faded; by the second night, I felt right at home. It was probably easier because we all had one thing in common: our love for yoga. Our appreciation for the practice made it more comfortable for us to navigate our harder lessons. We supported one another through joy, tears, and deep learning.

Each day, we learned teaching techniques, breathed through postures, studied anatomy, and meditated, among other activities. Every morning, we went to yoga class. Whether it was a gentle flow or a vinyasa, I felt like I was doing every pose for the very first time.

There were also opportunities for introspection and reflection. I walked outside one evening looking for solitude, silence, and fresh air. The crisp breeze contrasted with the warmth of the lobby. The orange and pink rays of the sun reflected on the fluffy snow. I walked down the stairs, off the sidewalk, and onto the frosted grass. The snow on the ground looked as if it had been evened out with a giant spatula. As I wandered, snowflakes shifted, leaving a soft trail of my footsteps. My thoughts came and went like dandelion puffs in the wind. It was me and the snow, the three small birds holding on to a branch, the scent of the faraway hickory bonfire, the reflection of the orange sun … and I inhaled.

My memory went back to that dark hospital room some 30 years ago. The four walls that witnessed the most trying phase of my life. The precise moment when I heard, “Yes, it’s cancer.” I connected with the sensation of how much I wanted to be free from that reality, or, unconsciously, liberated from my body. I exhaled … and gently let it go.

Lifting my leg back, I swung it forward and briskly kicked the snow. White flakes fluttered around my black boots. The sun-kissed horizon sparkled on the evergreens. In February of 1989, my wellness journey started. And in February of 2019, I became a Kripalu Yoga teacher. Gratitude overwhelmed my entire body as tears poured down my cheeks.

“I can only pay you back with my life,” I whispered in the wind to the images of the many people who have held my hand.

As I stood tall in Mountain pose facing the lake, the crown of my head lifting toward the sky, I felt as if I was rooted to the ground. My exhale extended as I let everything go. Shining my fingers outward, I inhaled and lifted my arms up to the sky to form a V, repeating a silent mantra: I am free. I am health. I am love. 

M. Patricia Diaz completed her 200-Hour Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training in February 2019. Her passion for health, well-being, and human development has been the compass of her life and career. This essay was originally published on her blog at

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