01 Dec 2014

A Letter to My Graduates

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10410223_10152605411613138_2800797421148127681_n-1It’s 6:30pm on Sunday night, November 16th, 2014. The day you graduated from Yoga Teacher Training. It’s dark and raining outside. I’m sitting on the floor of Villager Yoga’s lobby. The studio is dark, all the light are off, and everyone is gone except for me. I’m pulling on my boots, getting ready to carry all of my things out to my car. Suddenly, I hear my own voice from nine long months ago in my head.

Pause. Right here, right now, make a memory of this moment. Take in everything that it is. Notice how you feel, your thoughts…

I take a deep, ragged breath. A breath that seems to fill the space right around my heart. My chest shudders a little, and I’m aware once again of the flood of joy, excitement, sadness, and gratitude that’s been overtaking me in waves all day.

My eyes fill with tears for perhaps the 50th time on this long, emotional day. There is only one thing to do.

I bring my hands to my heart, take another deep breath, and–there alone in the silence of an empty studio, broken only by the sounds of falling rain–I chant one long, grateful Om.


It’s hard for me to even know where to begin writing about the nine incredible months of Sacred Glow’s first-ever 200-hour yoga teacher training, as evidenced by the fact that it’s taken me weeks to even write this. I can still close my eyes and flash back to the view I had at the front of the room that last day, with all 20 of you in front of me, alternating between laughter and tears. It’s so lovely to reflect on how my view of you has shifted over time, from students and trainees, to teachers and friends.

It’s also hard to pinpoint a single favorite moment from our nine months together. I remember laughing with you until my stomach hurt and my cheeks were tired. I remember the way you looked at me with shock and horror when I surprised you with your first practice teaching assignment. I remember lots of little lightbulbs over the months as you began to process and integrate the information. I remember the pride on your faces as you stood in front of the group to announce your unique Core Message for the first time.

All of these moments rank amongst some of the happiest and most fulfilling of my life. And for them and for you, I’m incredibly grateful.

I said something to you on that final Sunday together that I’m not sure you fully understood. I told you that teaching is an inherently selfish act, that you will always get more from your students than you could ever get them, and that has been magnified 1000-fold in teacher training. I want to explain to you what I mean:

For most of this year, my heart has felt very closed. It’s taken quite a beating in the last two years, and–for better or for worse–in the weeks leading up to our final weekend of training, it had decided that it might be best to go through life shut down, rather than risk vulnerable connection again. But as I listened to you read your final papers, the walls around my heart began to melt. And not slowly. Your heartfelt statements of gratitude and insights set fire to the energetic boundaries I had drawn and lit up the space around my heart once again. In those moments, you set me free from all the heartache that’s defined the last year of my life. I will never, ever have words to express my gratitude for reminding me what real love feels like.

The thing I want to say to you most of all is this: You are ready. You are ready to go out into the world and teach. You have things to say that are important and meaningful, things that will change lives. You are wise beyond your own recognition, and you are ready and able to share that wisdom.

And I just can’t wait to keep learning from you.


Back in the studio, my solitary Om fades to whispers of an echo. The studio, though quiet and dark now, still seems to hum with remnants of your energy, your happy laughter, and your joy. I’m reluctant to leave. The rain is falling heavily, and it seems much more pleasant to sit for another few moments in the memories and the warmth.

Eventually I know I’ll need to pack up my things and make several trips back and forth to my car. I’ll shiver on the drive home, and the exhaustion will hit me. It will take days of sleeping late to fully recover. And then it will be time to look ahead to next year’s training and start all over again.

But for now, I sit on the floor, surrounded by the memories of you, smiling to myself, with my heart wide open and so, so grateful.

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One Response to “A Letter to My Graduates”

  1. Carla Jean Whitley says:

    Oh, Melissa, my dear friend. I feel as though this nine-month process initiated us into a mutual admiration society and its lifelong membership. It was so special—and it’s ongoing. I’m grateful for you, both as a teacher and a friend.

    There was a moment tonight when I looked in the mirror and thought, “I’m a yoga teacher!” It had nothing to do with that particular moment or where we were in the practice, but I’m repeatedly delighted by this fact. I have trouble articulating how special it is.