yoga blog

graduate #yogastory – Zana O’Connell

graduate #yogastory – Zana O’Connell

by Zana O’Connell, 2017 Berlin TT Graduate
I have recently returned home having spent the summer in Berlin deepening my teaching knowledge. What an incredible time it has been…

When my best friend, Sam, from my home studio in Leeds decided he was going to take the leap and sign up for the Hot Yoga Teacher Training with Evolation (the same as I previously did), I was flirting with the idea of going out to join him and the Evolation Yoga family for a week or so. I chatted with the company founder, Mark, about it, and knowing I wanted to do the flow training, he suggested I join them for the full course and complete my second 250hour Teacher Training with them. It was a little tricky to find the time and resources to make possible but somehow the universe conspired to help me and I found myself here, completing the vinyasa flow training (a different style for those non-yoga people!) just one year after my first TT!

Something I always repeat and hold close to myself is ‘The student is always the teacher, and the teacher is always the student.’ It is very important to me to always be humble in my teaching and know – that I will never know it all, especially in the Bikram yoga world where there are lots of egotistical, even narcissistic behavior and teachers with heads bigger than their hearts and this is something I find so strange in a place which is meant to be about creating peace and balance.

Maintaining my balance and humanness is very important to me as I try to stay true to what brought me to teaching in the first place and remember the purpose – to serve, to serve others, spread love and be true to myself. This is my life’s work.

Because I AM so connected to this and know that all I am as a teacher is a channel for people to connect to something higher, to their higher Self, a channel that needs to be looked after and maintained so that it doesn’t become blocked, maintenance for me means to keep learning and keep growing so that I can keep inspiring people and help them to grow themselves. Returning to teacher training has been just that for me.

Returning to the source and dipping back into the ‘yoga-bubble’ has been pure nourishment for my mind, body, and soul. I return clearer, stronger, wiser and even more humble. There is so much to know, and I will never, no matter how hard I study, know it all. And simply knowing this gives me the permission to let go of the desire to be the ‘perfect teacher’ to be anything other than the best version of my imperfect self.

I spent a lot of my daily practices during training setting my intention to offer myself. I made offerings through my practice, I set intentions “to Serve’ and I surrendered to the experience completely.
My experiences so far in this lifetime have taught me many lessons, a lot of very painful lessons, and I see now that this was the beginning of my training. The universe trained me by pushing me to my deepest edge, to the brink of giving in and to learn to fight for LIFE. It trained me to know what pain was so that I could treasure joy. It trained me to experience utter self-loathing so that I could understand the beauty of self-love. It trained me to feel intense discomfort so that I could honor peace.

The universe has been training me to teach my entire life, completing an actual ‘Teacher Training’ is simply the part which helps me to realize these truths and knows that everything I need is already inside of me, and TT is simply giving me the tools to tap into that.

Going back the second time was a really beautiful experience. I had the most incredible teacher, Irene, guiding us through the coursework. She and her partner, John, who was helping lead the Hot training alongside us are such an inspiring and gorgeous couple. Their energy was so wonderful to be around and Irene was a total beam of bright light to me. She inspired and fueled me with so much to take home to my students. I delved much deeper into the subtle energy of yoga, and I am learning the beauty of how much is and how much can be said without words.

I go home to teach with not just knowledge of Asana (yoga postures) but a far deeper understanding of the true essence of yoga. I am blessed to have found such a wonderful yoga family with Evolation and how they create space for me to continue to grow. This isn’t just a company out to make money selling yoga, but a true family sharing love and knowledge in the purest way. I am reminded of WHY we teach yoga – to help people to connect to the highest version of themselves, to become healthy in body, mind, and spirit. This is so much more than just asana, yet when you spend every day in the yoga room sometimes it’s easy to become disconnected from that a little.

Teaching asana is a route, but it is not the only way, we are constantly teaching others, and we can use our experience to help each other to grow in so many ways. Let us be open to the teachings of others, allow us the humbleness to always be able to be the student, to always be open to growing.

Keep growing, keep being curious about yourself and about life, keep the passion alive, stay open and most importantly, enjoy every second.


Evolation yoga is devoted to helping you become more Self-centered – in an ego-free way. By combining the powerful physical properties of hot yoga with the awareness-enhancing effects of meditation, evolation’s aim is to make you healthier, happier, and more in touch with that elusive little thing called the Self.