How to Change Your Life in 200 Hours – A Tale of Teacher Training. ~ Charlotte Crivelli

Via elephant journal
on Aug 31, 2011
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A riches-to-rags tale, or a rags-to-riches tale, depending on how you look at it

Everybody loves a good rags-to-riches story but you never hear about a riches-to-rags tale with a happy ending. That’s what I feared most about quitting my job in corporate America and ‘throwing it all away’ for yoga.

I’d saved money to leave my home, friends and family in Australia and move to New York. I worked at the worlds biggest PR company in the middle of Times Square with a competitive team. It was an admirable position if you’re in to depressing offices, long hours and 10 days annual leave.

New York winters are bleak but they didn’t compare to the grey-on-grey bleakness of the office I worked in. I remember one morning particularly well. It was -25F and I trudged through the snow to get to Times Square. I slipped on some black ice and my hip slammed on the pavement. My contemporary, casual office outfit was dirty and wet and I was freezing and sore.

When I arrived at the office I noticed someone had erected a limp, blow up palm tree to “brighten the place up”. This was a creative agencies best attempt to add value to our day. Around Noon, just as my hip pain subsided and my pants dried, I heard a siren in Times Square. Apparently there was a bomb threat just below my office at the Navy recruitment center.

Through these wonderful, cheery days of corporate hell yoga became a sanctuary. Even though I wasn’t particularly experienced at the practice of yoga that hip-slamming, freezing, bomb-threatening day I considered enrolling in a yoga teacher-training course to increase the nurturing factors in my life.

When I expressed my desire to do teacher training with my boyfriend there appeared to be an obstacle. My boyfriend had previously dated a girl who had run off with a strange cult. He was worried it was all happening again. He was convinced that just like his ex I might come home talking about giving all my money to an imaginary life force being channeled through a lady in Ohio. The poor guy, I could understand his fear.

My parents asked me what I was going to “do with it”. My friends asked me if there was decent money in teaching yoga. I asked myself why I was going to spend a few thousand dollars, 200 hours, and every weekend for the next four months doing this.

I took myself up to Sonic Yoga in New York to speak with the head of teacher training, Johanna Aldrich. Johanna was, and still is, a tall, skinny, gorgeous blonde with a smile the size of a piece of watermelon.

She politely suffered through my interview-style questions about the course. Looking back on it I cringe at the memory of the arrogant, corporate me asking lovely Johanna what Sonic’s “value proposition” was. She was patient and lovely. I’m stubborn and guided by whim so I signed myself up.

My first day at ‘school’ was awkward. I was worried about my outfit. What would they think about my fancy new Lululemon clothes? I was mildly shocked when I entered the studio and looked around. There were 30 very strange looking circus folk in uncomfortable looking poses.

These strange hippies had obviously all brought their lunch too because there was a pungent smell of lentils and other hippy food. Perhaps this expensive and time-consuming course was a bad idea. I wondered if the lovely watermelon-smiling Johanna would consider giving me my money back.

Regardless, I stayed on and over the next two months I was taught about anatomy, yoga scriptures, theory, teaching, breath work and meditation techniques. After a few weeks we were asked to lead a class to the other teacher trainees. I worked on my segment for weeks.

I taught my first class and I was shocked at the effect it had on me. I felt like I was ‘conducting’ an orchestra and it looked beautiful. My fellow teacher trainees sensed where I wanted to take the class and helped me get there.

Watching 30 people move in unison is a special moment for any yoga teacher trainee. Bare feet and sweaty bodies bouncing off colorful yoga mats in unison. The sound of sticky toes peeling off the yoga mats at the same time. This was a better symphony to my ears than any opera.

As I looked at the group as a thing of beauty I noticed the beauty of all the individuals. They were all beaming at me. They all wanted to help me conduct a great class. It was such a quaint and non-competitive gesture and with this sensing my heart shifted and something softened, as I saw that this moment as a part of a flow, a permanent, changing reality – my new reality.

Considering I had gone to a fiercely, competitive, all-girls boarding school and moved to a competitive city in a tough job, this shift towards softness felt radically different.

During the training the main message that kidnapped my thoughts was the importance of tempering the ego. I walked into that course with a competitive attitude and I left realizing that competition and ego were the two things holding me back in my relationships, my yoga practice and my happiness. They still are, but I work on them every day.

My ego was the reason I couldn’t quit a job that I loathed. My ego was the reason I nearly didn’t sign up to teacher training. My ego was the reason that I saw those 30 stunning yogi’s as ‘weirdo’s’ on that first day.

It’s amazing what happens when you set your life on a path that’s authentic to you. I finished my teacher training two years ago and I didn’t just fall in love with yoga but the whole yoga community.

A lot’s changed since that first day. I told my boyfriend that I was proud to be a part of the yoga cult. He came to a yoga retreat in Guatemala with me and ended up doing more yoga than me! I quit my job. I left New York and moved to the beach in Santa Monica. I started three businesses, one of which is an online platform to help yoga teachers raise awareness of their skills in their ‘hood called My Yoga Avenue.

Now, I know yoga teacher training might not seem like an amazing achievement for a lot of people. It isn’t climbing Everest, or surviving a shark attack, or surfing the world’s biggest wave, but feeling proud of the path you are on, quitting a job you hate and supposedly ‘throwing it all away’ feels pretty bloody good. Plus, it turns out, the past two years feel more like a rags-to-riches story rather than the other way around.




Charlotte Crivelli was born in Australia and lives in Santa Monica, CA. She has combined her passion of yoga and her 12 years of marketing and PR experience to create a website to help yoga teachers market their skills, My Yoga Avenue. Teachers create a profile on My Yoga Avenue. The site is aggressively marketed to yoga enthusiasts who search by zip code for teachers in their ‘hood. Included on the site is a blog where Charlotte posts marketing tips and tricks for yogis. Charlotte is a 200 hr RYT with a bachelor of communications in marketing and communications.Prior to creating My Yoga Avenue Charlotte worked in the PR and marketing corporate world in New York and Sydney, Australia. She is relieved to have exited the corporate jungle, grey offices and 10 vacation days per year.



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16 Responses to “How to Change Your Life in 200 Hours – A Tale of Teacher Training. ~ Charlotte Crivelli”

  1. Janine says:

    Thanks for your post Charlotte! Such an inspiring journey and you have come so far. I too have a very similar story featured on EP today. Just wanted to reach out and say thanks for sharing! Maybe our paths will cross in L.A. very soon!

  2. Kate says:

    wow!! this article really moved me… would love to hear more stories like this of people breaking from the norm!!! inspire me more…

  3. Phoebe says:

    Love this inspirational article… It’s prompted me to go and ‘shake the day off’ and go and do a yoga class!! Need more articles like this!!

  4. Peter says:

    Inspiring stuff! Rock on, Charlotte!

  5. Candy says:

    What an awesome, insightful story! It inspires everyone, no matter what age, to follow their heart. Thank you for publishing such a refreshing article.

  6. Charlotte! An even bigger slice of watermelon is pasted to my face. You captured one of the greatest joys we river guides have…watching the transition from mind to heart, surface to soul…It’s not just the emergence of a yoga teacher, but more deeply, the birth of a human being walking in alignment with their highest truth. Hurray! And congrats!

  7. Marnie says:

    Charlotte, thank you so much for sharing your inspiring and honest story! It took me a really long time to leave a job that was draining the life out of me and you’re absolutely right; it was my ego and competitiveness that held me back. Thanks for helping me to realize this and inspiring me to work on channeling that energy in a more productive way.
    I love your reference to ‘conducting’ the yoga class and hope one day to be lucky enough to be in a class you’re teaching!

  8. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thank you for sharing this Charlotte! Very inspirational! You set yourself free!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  9. Liz Yusczyk says:

    All to often people build their lives a certain way. Chasing after money or success only to discover they aren't happy with the results. In a capitalist society it is easy to get caught up in trying to fit an image. Seeing a successful and intelligent woman such as Charlotte chase after her dream warms my heart. I am a single mother struggling to make ends meet. I try to look at every day as a challenge, and reading her story pushes me to continue after my dreams and happiness. I am so proud of her!

  10. Wow – Liz, I never knew I had the power to inspire someone. That makes me so happy!! You have made my day!

  11. Mark says:

    I truly needed this today. I've been trying to figure out a reason not to sign up for teacher training in October. It really is my ego and it is so great to read that someone challenged this problem and reaped some amazing personal rewards. Thank you Charlotte for sharing your story and putting a huge spotlight on my personal issues. It is time for me to begin to move forward on my journey and this is just the kick in the ass I needed.

  12. Steve says:

    Charlotte, what a fantastic saga of a life-changing moment. Your inspirational story serves as a wake-up call to all of us whether it is yoga or any other roadblock to happiness in our lives. Keep up the great work and continue to inspire others.

  13. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  14. Charlotte says:

    Hi Mark, this is awesome! I'm so glad that I potentially spurred you to sign up for TT. You should read my interview with Shiva Rea for further inspiration on how to start your first steps to becoming a teacher:

  15. Pat crivelli says:

    Inspirational stuff! It really does take courage to leave the corporate world and go it alone as it you are up against one of the most powerful human emotions – fear of the unknown. Well done Charlotte, I may just take this leap of faith myself!

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