By Jacqueline Flynn

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For many Charlotters, yoga is an important component to everyday life here. From meditation at the beach, to classes at the Berry Farm and with studios just over town lines, yoga has touched all corners of Charlotte. Spending my first summer here in three years, I felt drawn to learn more about the yoga community while also exploring my own practice. 

However, when I sat on my mat at Yoga Roots in Shelburne, I quickly realized that many of my fellow yogis weren’t just classmates, but yoga teachers themselves. More often than not, the person sitting next to me had participated in a yoga teacher training program to become a certified teacher. Even my own mother had gone through it! I couldn’t help but wonder, what is the draw to not just practicing yoga, but undergoing yoga teacher training?

Lynn Alpeter is a co-owner of Yoga Roots who went through the training program. Her story begins with her battle with breast cancer. 

Five years ago, Lynn was finishing chemotherapy treatments when she was given a gift certificate to go to a yoga class. She quickly fell in love with the community and spirit of the studio so when she was asked to come on as a co-owner of the business, she couldn’t help but say yes. 

“I just thought how good it was for every part of my life. I’m taking care of my body and spirit, and now it’s my profession. My whole world is in this studio,” Alpeter said. 

She said she was curious about the training but had her hesitations. “Anybody you talk to that’s done it says ‘it’s so transformative! It changed my whole life!’ But for me, I’ve already been through a lot of transformation so what was it going to do for me?” 

But she said that going deeper into her practice and completing the program gave her more of an appreciation for her teachers. Lynn also noticed that even though her class went through the same program and teachings, they all left with an individual style and that made her see yoga teaching as a creative expression. 

Chiara Hollender did not expect to be a yoga teacher when she began her practice. Hollender is one of the teachers at Yoga Roots and said that her journey started when she went on a trip with a friend with whom she grew up in Charlotte. 

She said that yoga changed every aspect of her life from what she ate to her relationships, her mental health. It made her a happier person and she, like many others, simply wanted to deepen her practice. 

“If I have something to give and there are people who want to learn, then why wouldn’t I want to share this? It’s making me so happy,” said Hollender. “I had enough happiness to give others happiness which wasn’t something I experienced before.” 

The yoga teacher training program attracts people of every age and background, but the results tend to be the same: everyone comes out of it with more than they expected. My mother went through the program in May 2017, and although she has no desire to teach, says that the teaching program definitely impacted her personal life. 

Everyone that I asked about their program said that they went into their training not really knowing what to expect, but came out with a new way of life that they felt like they needed to share. 

On the Yoga Roots website, they have an information page on the teacher training program. 

“As a human race, we are craving longer, lasting and more meaningful experiences and yoga teacher training programs can provide a rich and fertile ground for this kind of learning,” it says. 

“I think people are searching for more meaning in their life. And if yoga has moved you and you think you feel better after that, then you might be moved to dive deeper,” Alpeter said. 

Hollender said that coming back to Charlotte and having a slower pace of life is really what pushed her to go through the teacher training. “It feels as though everyone has more time and people are more interested in connecting with each other here,” she said. 

Perhaps it is people wanting to further their practice, but for Charlotters, deeper meaning seems to come from wanting that connection with a community, something to strengthen an already friendly town a little more: yoga practice and teaching.