On this week’s Blue Osa Student Spotlight, we are so excited to introduce you to Brooke Nowak. Read on to discover Brooke’s path to yoga teacher training, the hurdles she had to overcome to get here, and her personal advice to other yogis considering a teacher training program!
Student Spotlight With Brooke: What Led You To Yoga Teacher Training In Costa Rica?
Let’s start with an introduction! What’s your name, where are you from, and what do you ‘do’?
My name is Brooke Nowak and I was born and raised in the Cayman Islands. I am currently managing and bartending at a beautiful restaurant on the island of Utila, Honduras. My daily life consists of making the best freakin’ mojito you’ve ever had, making people happy and running away from fried food. I have two fur babies – my kitties Alba and Marmalade. So after work I hang with them, have a glass of wine, and if I’m lucky, fit in some yoga (before the wine, of course!).
How did you start practicing yoga? What was it about yoga that caught your interest?
When I was 18 I went through a really terrible time and took a year off school. At the age of 19, walking into my second year of University, I was lost, insecure and anxious. I had lost the 20 pounds I gained freshman year, but being so mentally insecure and screwed up it didn’t even matter.
I walked into my local gym and decided to take my first yoga class. I had read a lot about yoga before, and had practiced some on my own – but I had no idea how the movements flowed, how the breath was connected or how it would inevitably change my life.
My teacher asked me in front of the whole class what my name was and if I had ever practiced yoga before. (I learned later that this was routine for the newbies). He also asked me why I decided to take a yoga class – and my response to him was “I literally can’t breathe. I have breathing and anxiety problems, and I want to learn to breathe again”.
I needed to learn to breathe. I needed to control my anxiety. I needed something to take my mind away from all of my personal issues. And here I am almost four years later with complete breath control and zero anxiety. I have yoga to thank for that.
When did you decide to commit to a yoga teacher training program?
One of my New Years Resolutions was “attend a yoga teacher training –no matter what.” I had initially planned to sign up for one in order to get my life back on track. Traveling for 6 months and working in a restaurant had turned my priorities upside down. I figured with a yoga teacher training in my future, I would get my diet and exercise regime in line. Fast forward 10 months and I have not made much progress.
I have thought about dropping out numerous times. Working 10-hour shifts almost every day means my practice is flawed, my body is far from toned, and my mind is busy. But if not now, when? I am finally at a good place mentally and emotionally and I need this to get back on track physically and spiritually. I am doing this because I know yoga is my passion. It is the one thing that saved me and the only thing that made me feel good about myself when I desperately needed something. I want that again. I need that again.
What appealed to you about an immersion program, and what led you to Blue Osa?
Blue Osa appealed to me because it is said to be more than just a yoga training program. I automatically got the vibe that this place would change my life. I want to be surrounded by enthusiastic, genuine, and passionate people. I am open to learning and I am yearning for self-discovery. This is exactly what the training has to offer. I have been practicing yoga on and off for 4 years now – but Yogi Aaron openly welcoming any level of yoga practice automatically drew me in. I knew this would be more about digging deep within ourselves rather than competing for flexibility in Dandasana, and this is exactly the type of yoga teacher training I want to attend.
Not to mention Blue Osa and Yogi Aaron’s AMAZING reviews on trip advisor – also definitely an appealing factor :).
Were there any hurdles standing between you and a one-month immersion program, and being so far removed from your daily life, routines and responsibilities? How did you overcome them?
My job allowed for the vacation time. I have friends to look after my cats. I have a little money saved up. Honestly the only hurdle that was standing in my way was my own insecurities. I am quite nervous about this training – as I said before, my practice is not ideal and my belly gets in the way of my twists – but I know I need this.
The sincere belief in my abilities and myself is how I overcame this “hurdle”. There is always that little, small voice telling me I can’t do it – but then there is that louder, overpowering, BOOMING voice telling me: “Shut the hell up! You can do anything!”
What are your goals for both during and after the yoga teacher training program?
During my yoga teacher training, my main goal is to stay focused and not become distracted or discouraged. I want to soak in as much knowledge and spiritual guidance as I possibly can. I want to be open to different ways of thought. I want to stay committed physically and mentally every day and never ever give up. I also want to build a solid practice that I can feel confident taking home with me.
After my training I don’t want to set a goal, but rather keep a promise:
This promise is that the minute I depart from Blue Osa, I will continue living a peaceful, kind, and healthy lifestyle. I promise to take everything I learned and carry it with me throughout my daily routine. I promise to continue practicing more regularly, treat my body kinder and live the life I am meant to be living.
“Use this time to become who you want to be, so that you can spend the rest of your life being that person you were always meant to be.” – Me.
What three words best describe how you feel at this very moment, prior to boarding the plane?
Insecure, Intimidated and Empowered would be three of the best words that describe how I feel at this very moment.
Intimidated – definitely. Headstands? HANDSTANDS? ME? My friends would look at you like you are crazy. I love yoga, but haven’t quite mastered inversions or arm balances yet!
Insecure – I know I will probably have the worst practice. And I know I will probably be the least prepared. But I am doing this for myself, to change my life and to face and fight the insecurities that I have allowed to drag me behind.
Empowered AND Excited – I get butterflies just thinking about it. I am over the top excited about spending this month immersed in yoga, clean food, and great company. I feel empowered because I already know that this month will change my life and I can’t wait!
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to other yogis who want to take their yoga practice to the next level, but have some fear holding them back?
The advice I would give to another yogi would be similar to the advice I followed when signing up for this training. Someone on Trip Advisor from the last training wrote:
“P.S: I was only 3 months into yoga when I came to Blue Osa. If you have an interest in the Yoga Teacher Training, just go for it!!!”
Although these words are so light-hearted and simple,it’s exactly the push I need every day to feel confident in this decision. STOP THINKING, and just do it :)!
A huge thanks to Brooke for participating in our Student Spotlight series! If you have any questions or comments for Brooke, be sure to leave them in the comments section below!
Wondering if a yoga teacher training in Costa Rica is right for you? Read our other Student Spotlights to hear from real-life students undergoing the same life-challenges: