Becoming a yoga teacher in the USA can have several road blocks. Aside from intensive study in a broad range of topics in just a short period of time, finding the correct teacher and program to suit one’s need, there is also cost. In Baltimore, a city with disparity among ethnic groups and rich history of racism and segregation, the road from student to teacher could seem even longer. That is one reason why we created and aligned with the BYFREE program, a program which offers opportunity to particularly POC folks, but anyone on the margins of the mainstream, giving access to free classes and partial teacher training scholarships. We believe in wellness for everyone and every body and recognize the lack of diversity and representation currently in Baltimore in terms of teaching staff. Seeking to bridge that gap as to subvert stigmas and issues of inaccessibility to wellness programming, we have offered scholarships for the past three years when funding has been available. Our root has been private funding – and we want to thank the BYV community for chipping in when we have shared the aspirations of teacher trainees. When I asked one new Yoga Teacher if she would be willing to share a few lines testimonial of her experience, what she wrote was more than I asked for, and worth sharing. Nothing is impossible. With communication and collaboration, this happened and so much more is possible.
A MESSAGE FROM KEY DICKERSON: “I would have never thought I’d have the chance to complete my Yoga Teacher Training this year with Anjali and make friends with six wonderful Goddesses/Students! When I moved to Baltimore I was desperately in search of myself. Who am I? What will it take for me to be happy? What is my purpose? What is my why? How can I use my voice? At the time, I had reached a point where most of what I had expected to come together had fallen apart. Going through the emotions I found Baltimore to be a wonderful distraction.
On June 21 with no expectations I started a Go Fund Me account. With the help of Anjali sharing my campaign on BYFREE I raised enough currency within a few weeks to attend the July 8, 2019 YTT 200hr class. I was overjoyed and speechless for a day. I found yoga around 2010. I was a full time student athlete running over 40miles a week. I was constantly studying and working through waves of depression. At my core I was seeking answers for a lot of the events I went through while still trying to make the best of what I already had. One day I randomly went to New York and found a book on yoga. I took this book home and read about breathing & meditation. Long story short I fell in love taking yoga on as a side practice and mediating at every opportunity.
Before long my practice became more intimate, spiritual and nurturing. I began dreaming of finding a teacher that would support me in my journey to the next level. At first I felt I needed to travel to India or Bali to find a “legit” teacher. For a long time I would save up money and a life event would occur forcing me to put my personal dream aside.
I’m filled with so much gratitude for the day I met Anjali. Instead of me figuring out how I was going to travel to Bali and worrying if the teacher was right for me; a teacher was already here in Baltimore and I could speak to her.
The next six weeks of training wasn’t easy. I worked two jobs and kept up with the classes Monday through Friday. Having one day off here and there. I was lucky enough that my employers were open to working with me as I went through this adventure and transformation! On my weakest days the ladies of my group were so grounding, loving, supportive, fun, playful, passionate and so much more. On our graduation, August 16, I cried on each of their shoulders overjoyed with love and companionship. It has been a long journey in reaching this point and the journey continues to this day.
One major key I’ve learned in my experience with Baltimore Yoga Village is to be open to the infinite ways life can support you. You never know what’s ahead in the future but we make the best of the journey. In those six weeks I’ve absorbed a lot of information, my edges were pushed, and my voice was finding it’s way. Everyday spent with Anjali was nurturing, supportive, and firm when needed. Her smile and cadence set the tempo throughout the weeks and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. This class and everyone in it will always be a major point in my life kept close to my heart.
Thank you BYFREE, BYV, and everyone that I’ve met along the way. Best wishes to anyone who may be feeling a little doubtful in themselves to trust in yourself. Take it one step at a time. “