Carol Ann Ackerman

Arlington, TX
United States

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I took my first yoga class at the YMCA during high school with my dad. The instructor was an older, half naked man, who floated through the room, and spoke like he was on a broadway stage. We were giggling throughout the entire class, and I left feeling positive that yoga was not for me.

Fast forward about four years and all of that changed. After my mom's sudden death, I found myself in a state of complete numbness; I did everything I could to ensure I wouldn't feel the pain from losing her. I ate and drank myself into an emotional coma. I remember waking up one day, looking in the mirror and not knowing the person staring back at me. I had put on an extra 70 pounds of nothing but pain, but something in me snapped - I wanted my life back. I wanted to feel like a human again. I made the decision to get moving again and with my background in competitive running, I decided to start there.

Immediately those around me felt the shift in my energy. One day in the summer of 2010, my best friend all but begged me to try this new hot yoga studio that opened across the street from her apartment. I'm so grateful that I gave in. My first vinyasa class brought up so many emotions that I didn't at all expect - I felt challenged, yet empowered. I cried, but I also laughed! And I felt confused, rung out, and knowing that something powerful had just happened and it was necessary for me to go back. And I did. Almost everyday.

For the first time in a long time, I let myself feel. Everything. Without judgement. It was an extremely transformative time for me; I had never separated myself from my thoughts, and like most, I was so sucked in to the negative voices playing in my head. Yoga taught me that I have the power of choice: I can choose to believe the voices, or I can choose to tell myself a different story. I started to shift my labels: 'pain' was now just 'sensation', something for me to examine as a third party; with curiosity instead of judgement. My whole world was changing.

After singing the praises of yoga to any and everyone that would listen, one day an instructor asked me, "when am I going to start teaching?" I immediately felt unworthy. How could I be trusted to deliver something so powerful and life changing?! Me??! But I couldn't shake the idea. This was something special, something that I believed with my whole heart could shift anyone who gave it an honest shot - I felt called to share it with the world. I decided to trust in that belief and started teacher training in the fall of 2013, and started teaching as much as possible immediately after getting my certification.

Teaching has been every much as powerful, if not more so, as being on my mat practicing. For me, it's the most selfless gift I can give. I am able to feel completely free and live and be my truth, or Satya: when your thoughts, your work, emotions, and actions all come into perfect alignment; you're not speaking truth, you just are truth! I am so confident and believe in this thing, yoga, moving meditation, whatever you want to call it, works, that I no longer have time for fear or negative self talk. There's a new sense of urgency to share this gift! And each class I get the honor of teaching is unique and just as powerful, each and every time. My hope and my intention is to allow a space for connection, for all walks of life, no matter where they are on their journey, and no matter what that looks like for them. My hope is to deliver portable tools that my students can carry with them and use in all situations of their life, whether they're in the yoga studio or not.

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