Before a yoga studio opened by her house in downtown Culver City, Jess Hilton had only tried yoga a handful of times. A lifelong runner, she began taking classes at the studio thinking it might be a nice complement to her normal workout routine. The fact she could walk to the studio didn’t hurt, either.
Like most of us, in the beginning she would fall in and out of regular attendance. But when she realized her usual shoulder pains and tightness in her muscles from running began to fade after consistent practice, she eventually made the commitment to get to class 2-3 times a week. Still, she rarely ventured beyond beginner level classes and never imagined she’d ever complete a teacher training program. She had a small child and a full-time personal chef business to manage; while yoga was definitely helping her stay calm and grounded, she figured her plate was full.
Which is why when SoulPlay’s new owner approached her about attending an upcoming teacher training, she was surprised to find herself unable to get the idea out of her head. As she examined her objections (but time! but money! but life!), she quickly found them falling away and before she knew it, she was enrolled in a training beginning in January.
Expecting to deepen her knowledge and enrich her practice, she had no idea how the experience would impact her entire life.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Jess says, “but it’s changed the way I think about everything; how I value time and people and how I approach my life. Beyond the physical component, it was a complete mental and spiritual journey.”
Citing a popular meme, she likened the training to an iceberg; the small, visible tip being the poses she expected to master, and the vast, underwater section of the iceberg being the unexpected shift she underwent over the course of the five-month program.
After completing the training, she noticed there was an opening at SoulPlay to teach a morning class and asked to be considered for the spot, which she found surprising.
“Before this training, I wasn’t the type of person who would ask for the thing they wanted; I would wait for things to come to me, and then complain when they didn’t. But after this process, I suddenly found myself putting myself out there and taking action.”
Now, in addition to raising her daughter and running her business, she happily leads a Wake Up & Flow class Thursday mornings.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t benefit from a teacher training class, even if they don’t think they’ll end up teaching,” she says. “If you can make the time and effort, you’ll be rewarded in ways you'd never expect."