by Gina Marie Cronin
Many yoga practitioners have thought … and thought … and thought some more about taking a teacher training certification program. It’s something that people put off for a host of reasons, including time, money or fear of the unknown. Both Ann Marie Fitzsimmons and Brian Petschauer were in a state of hesitation, too, before starting the 200-hour three-month yoga teacher training (YTT) program at Breathe N Flow (BNF) yoga studio, in Freeport, last fall. They have since come to love all of the deep experiences the training offered and have become friends.
One-on-one with Fitzsimmons…
What concerns did you have when deciding whether or not to enter the YTT?
I was nervous because of the dedication, and that I’m a bit older and can’t get my body into all the same deep positions as others. Once I had decided I wanted to do it, I was going to do it because I figured if I didn’t go ahead and dive into it I would’ve found excuses not to.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
Five years. I’ve always dabbled in it but have been consistent for five years. I started because I was very busy, and was feeling unbalanced and unhappy with my life situation.
What are some valuable things you learned?
Through practicing the asanas, I was noticing the spirituality inside of me; I was feeling something and knew I wanted to learn more. Throughout the training, I found more strength and let go of fear. Topics we covered were asanas, pranayama, anatomy, philosophy, mythology, chakras and touched on Ayurveda.
How do you plan on incorporating this certification into your life?
I have three daughters. I am involving them through this journey, and I feel it is a wonderful thing to share with them and to bring this practice into their life. I also hope to teach once or twice a week.
One-on-one with Petschauer…
How long have you been practicing yoga?
I’ve been practicing yoga for one year. I started with a two-week pass [at BNF] and haven’t stopped. I made sure to come to all of the owner Leah Hartofelis’ classes. She really helped me grow my first couple of months.
What concerns did you have when deciding whether or not to enter the YTT?[I was] hesitant because I wasn’t sure I was experienced enough. That went away with the people that were in the group. Everyone supported each other; it was wonderful. You don’t have to look left, right, back or forth; it’s just about what is going on with you in that moment.
What is something valuable you learned?
No matter how “good” you are at yoga, there is no perfection in it. … You can always strive to be better or push yourself … and it was a very challenging thing to me, where it wasn’t just “I can lift this many weights” or “I can run this fast”; it was an ongoing process.
What did you think of the teachers?
The teachers were wonderful and very supportive [and had] everything you needed. They really knew what we were going through. … You can tell people from outside that you’re going through teacher training, but they don’t really understand the commitment. The community [at BNF] is very nice, very welcoming and very knowledgeable.
How will you use your certification?[I will] share the gift of yoga with other people and get more men involved in yoga. It can be very intimidating for many men; they just assume it is a lot of women. I went to the Wanderlust Festival last September in Brooklyn and I got this painting—it was like a pink om symbol and I was thinking, “All I used to see is the pink; now all I see is the om symbol!”
What will you take away with you from the training?
It was a very eye-opening experience; everyone grew through the teacher training process. I had a full-time job on top of it, like just about everyone else [attending the program]. I was living and breathing yoga and still am to a large extent. We’re still all very good friends and meet up on a regular basis; you create a family with everyone. I would not not have done it; I am very happy it happened.
Learn more about the 200-hour teacher training certification program under the Teacher Training tab at BreatheNFlowYoga.com. To register for the fall 2015 program, call studio owner Leah Hartofelis at 516-632-9626.