This past March, I completed my 500-hour yoga teacher training with Lillah Schwarz of Lightenup Yoga in Asheville, North Carolina.

What do you have to do to become a 500-hour yoga teacher?

Study a lot. Practice a lot. Write a lot of programs. Get your own body sorted, yoga-wise.

I just completed my 200-hour training with Lillah in January. This was my sixth yoga teacher training since I began teaching some 17 years ago.

When I first showed up in the yoga teacher training, Lillah watched me practice and announced, “You are in the 500-hour teacher training.”

You can’t put much past Lillah!

Even though I have no trouble at all being a total beginner, all over again, seeing everything from a beginner’s eyes, deconstructing my practice and teaching, asking myself why I was doing it that way and how might I possibly improve, Lillah knew just where to put me.

Even though in my opinion I don’t know too many people who would be impressed with a 500-hour certification – in my mind, that and $3.50 might get you a latte at Starbucks – I went ahead and plunged in.

I love yoga, I love studying yoga, and given that I was getting older and my students are also getting older, I reasoned it was time to think differently.

When you are young, you can throw yourself and other people about and practically get away with it.

By the time we are all older, we are aware how other people are injured in 100 different ways and how we have to proceed intelligently.

I am also aware, from a point of view of what is actually healing, how to use yoga how to heal the back, hips, shoulders, etc. etc. etc.

My general thought is this:

When you are young, it is O.K. to be a flake.

Everybody will forgive you because you are clueless that you are clueless.

Everybody under 30 gets a pass.

Everybody under 40 – the ones between ages 30 and 40 who figure they are by that time on top of the world – also gets a pass because they are allowing their egos to drive themselves over the proverbial cliff.

By the time you are my age, 54, as a yoga teacher, in my opinion, you have to go deep or go home.

Go deep or go home.

What does that mean in terms of yoga practice? It means holding the poses long enough – at least 60 seconds, and probably longer as I am fooling everybody by starting my timer well after they have gotten into the position – to unwind years of scar tissue.

When you injure yourself, your body lays down scar tissue.

Scar tissue is very chaotic.

It’s like a bandage applied in a hurry by a medic brand new on the job.

A big patch where the muscle tissue was once theoretically long and organized, you now have a clumped up, tightened up, twisted, tense bundle of cells that has to be coaxed into letting go of its chaos.

This is all my theory, by the way. My theory after years of study, years of practice and years of teaching.

By reconsidering my practice and teaching, I am now holding the poses longer and coaxing myself and my students to go deeper.

As you go deeper into your own physiology, you not only unwind scar tissue, you also have the opportunity to unpack all the emotional baggage you have been holding in those bunched up, tightened up muscles.

This takes some emotional strength.

If you are an emotional wimp or an addict who is accustomed to running away from your feelings, guess what, you probably won’t last in my yoga class.

But if you hang in there with me, you can find your yoga practice to be deeply healing.

Your muscles will get stronger, you will find yourself calmer and more centered. And you won’t look anywhere near your chronological age!

Come join our yoga classes:

Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., McDonough Hall, Side B, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 4465 Northside Drive.

Tuesdays, 7:30 to 9 p.m., McDonough Hall, Side B, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 4465 Northside Drive.

Thursdays, 7:30 to 9 p.m., Parish Building, ground floor, Holy Spirit, 4465 Northside Drive.

Private instruction by appointment. Please call 678-612-8816 for more information.