day 1

Am I prepared? Was this the right decision? Am I going to be able to memorize everything? Will I even be a good teacher? What if I didn’t get the right books? What will the other woman be like? How will the instructors be? Am I crazy? Is it really 2:00am? Why am I still awake?

These are not the things you’d like to be thinking about when your alarm is set to go off at 7:00am, but in the wee hours of what would be the most important day of my life thus far, it was all my wandering mind could concentrate on. No amount of Om’s or deep breaths could drag me away from my concerns.

The count-down was on. The morning of my first day of yoga teacher training had finally arrived. My mind was a fluttering frenzy of excitement, panic, stress, anticipation and curiosity for what was to come.

I walked into The Hot House just thirty minutes shy of go-time. The space was absolutely beautiful. From the concrete floors of the lobby to the newly painted white walls of the brightly lit studio, everything spoke to the love that went into the construction of this space.

My heart was instantly filled with pride thinking that I would be the first to practice in this newly designed structure. I thought about the possibilities of teaching here and my part in what will no doubt be a huge success as the first Hot House location in Abu Dhabi. I finally felt that there was a greater purpose for my being in the UAE. And after years of yearning to be a part of the yoga teacher world, my dreams had finally manifested.

Five minutes till show-time. The butterflies in my tummy had returned. Although the countless “what if’s” still played across the forefront of my mind, there was no turning back now.

When we finally began our first session I was whisked away from my prattling thoughts and brought into the present moment of my class. We sat in a circle and began with a round of introductions, favourite postures and our best attempt at explaining, “who we are”.

Within five short minutes I could tell that I was surrounded by some very kind and loving people. Between the other women in the course and our two instructors, Toddy and Maria, I felt the flow of positivity and I finally began to relax.


We spent a large part of our afternoon in the open-concept living room of another student who had graciously offered her home to us for the month. Being in this informal atmosphere was nothing at all like I assumed training would be and I am thankful that it is so. It seems more like a retreat than a classroom. We are all free to make use of the amenities (fridge, kettle, and microwave) and feel a little more like we are learning in our own homes.

There is also something truly amazing about the size of the group that I am training with. I can’t be sure but I’d say there are around twenty women -of all ages and nationalities- eagerly waiting to learn and understand the postures and the dialogue that correspond with it.

This intimate exchange is sure to mean a more one-on-one approach to learning with the instructors as well as allowing us to forge greater bonds within the group. It’s only been one day and I can already successfully remember everyone’s name (which would surely never happen in a Bikram training environment.)

We also spent some time going over study techniques. I feel a little more relieved to learn that I am not the only one feeling like a dialogue-dummy. Most other women are struggling to make the words stick in their minds. But Toddy gave us an idea of what works and I am already feeling like it will do wonders to make it all sink in.

We ended the night with a Bikram class. Where to begin with this one? Bikram always says, “It’s never too late, it’s never too bad, and you’re never too old or too sick to start from scratch once again.” Was he referring to ex-cabin crew who had spent the last year killing their bodies on a plane and not in the studio? I sure hope so. Because that felt like the first class I’d ever taken. Parts of my mind were screaming at me to run the hell out of there. At one point I looked at myself in the mirror, and although my expression was blank, my ego laughed at me, called me a joke and told me to quit while I was ahead.

I didn’t.

But yikes, was that class ever a rude awakening from how far my practice has slipped since I joined the aviation world. I can only hope that my muscle memory will kick in soon and I will be back to exploring the depth of my abilities.

All in all, to say that I am relieved would be an understatement. Regardless of where I am today, both mentally and physically, I know I made the right decision by embarking on this journey. I am now eager and excited for what is next to come and I know that with the support and guidance of both my teachers and my peers this journey will create so much room for growth, learning and self-exploration into who I am, both on and off the mat and guide me to be the kind of teacher I look up to.

Chivonne Monaghan


Chivonne's yoga story began five years ago when she discovered the hot yoga Primary Series. She knew instantly she wanted to become a teacher so she could share her passion with others; giving back what had been given to her: inspiration, strength, discipline, compassion and love. After a few years of living in various countries, Chivonne found myself travelling the world as an occupation with a middle-eastern airline. And when the opportunity to become a teacher become available to her in the UAE she quit her job on the spot and enrolled in the course. She feels so truly blessed to be starting her journey into teaching and I is so excited by the endless possibilities that await her.