Written By Nikki Costa
I knew that something was missing from my life. There was always this feeling of "something is out there for you. Waiting for you to see it." I woke up one morning and the creative magic just hit me.
I ran to my laptop. I googled, "yoga retreats for teen girls". Nothing in the area (USA) came up but I saw a link for Girlvana Yoga. I clicked on it and I saw my mission clearly in beautiful photos and words. Teenagers + Crafts + Mentorship + Real Conversations + NATURE + YOGA. The euphoria and amazement lasted for about ten seconds and then I was crushed that somebody out there was already doing what I just figured out I wanted to do with my life. Talk about a major buzz kill. The mission. The branding. The community. Everything was what I had been searching for. I slowly slipped back into reality and ignored the little voice that kept whispering, "there is something more".
Exactly one week later, Girlvana Yoga posted their application for their first ever international yoga teacher training. I stopped what I was doing and completed the application in about five minutes flat without looking back. After a week or so I finally heard back that I had been accepted.
The Girlvana Yoga teacher training was unlike any experience I have ever had.
It was a small intimate group comprised of women from all walks of life. I met a fellow school teacher, a dance teacher, a mother, a marketing manager, and a recent high school graduate. I could tell that all of our paths crossed for a very distinct reason and I was ready to discover why.
Normally, group work makes me a little nauseated because you inevitably are forced to be in the same group as people that do not share your common mission or ideology. With Girlvana, I realized that I was afforded the opportunity to be in the same room as ten other women that were on the SAME page as I was but shared their own unique experiences. I felt incredibly open and proud to share my creative ideas and experiences working with teenagers. I felt strong enough to hold space for my new friends and trainee's to share their own stories. I felt like I belonged.
It's hard for me to pinpoint one thing that I took away from Girlvana Yoga teacher training. There were so many moments that I raced to write down the second I sat down on my red-eye back to Cleveland. However, there are a few takeaways that I can share.
1. This work is needed now more than ever. The work doesn't care if we have a masters degree in "Teenage Girl Psychology" - the work doesn't wait for us to feel ready. The work is there for us to do if we choose to walk down that path. Girls need us...trust that the mission and the work is needed. They will show up. They will open up. They will rise up. Trust it.
2. The way we label those around us shapes their lives, even if we have positive intentions. I had often referred to many of my struggling learners as...struggling learners. Or remedial. Or AT RISK. Jian shifted my perspective on permanently labeling kids (even if we don't intend harm.) I have never called a student that works tirelessly at school "remedial" or "at risk" again.
3. Every experience in your life has led you to this moment. Trust it. I realized that all of my odd talents were going to be utilized as a wonderful companion on this new path. I had a greater appreciation for the twists and turns in my path that led me to Girlvana.
4. The most important thing I learned in this training fuels every decision I make in my life. "Am I being the mentor that my Girlvana girls need in their life? If I were to speak to one of my girls in this moment...what would I say?" The world needs you to be you - I have learned to show up REAL in my own life and to make my OWN choices after Girlvana. I am so much more aware of how my actions influence and guide the next generation of amazing women. I catch myself in the mirror when I side-eye that little dimple of cellulite on my thighs. I am so much more loving to myself so that I can go out and be so much more loving to the girls following in my footsteps. Honestly, what is better than being yourself & inspiring others to do the same?