On Believing in Yourself

This post is part of my Yoga Teacher Training series, where I share my journey while I prepare for yoga teacher training with Baptiste Studios in July and August 2015. It’s going to be amazing. And I hope you’ll follow along as I get into the best – and most challenging – parts of following my heart into a new, incredible challenge.

Chris, Max, and I are eating breakfast. It’s Sunday morning. And we’re having this awesome moment where I’m finishing my yoga practice, talking body and flow and poses and limits with Chris, while Max makes “mmmm” sounds as he munches on fruit and toast.

It was an awesome family moment, one that I want to remember for along time.

I woke up suddenly that morning, gasping and short of breath, after a nightmare forced me out of sleep. I had this vision of the last memory of the dream: my family and I were hugging, and sobbing, and terrified.

I tried to close my eyes, to convince my mind that it was only a dream and, because my mind had created it, I would create a different story. A happier story. And I would drift back into sleep with happy thoughts in mind. But I couldn’t get that last image, and the emotion it struck in me, out of my mind. It was 7am. Sleep wasn’t coming back. And it would be best if I took this time to have a few minutes to myself while Chris and Max slept.

My first action of every day is to check my phone. Probably out of instinct, since I’m usually handling it to shut off an alarm. On this morning, though, I didn’t need it. And, instead, decided to flip through some photos of fun we had with family the day before. As I looked through the photos of Max smiling like crazy while playing with his cousins, I started thinking about my day, what I wanted to do, and how I could best use this quiet morning time by myself.


Focused, no distractions, well thought out practice with just me, my mat, and the yoga studio app. I started with a basic sun salutation and slowly built in progressive poses. With each vinyasa, I added another variation of warrior I, II, and III. And I slowly built this rhythm of breathing that was methodical and predictable.

And it was beautiful.

And challenging.

And peaceful.

And then Max woke up. And, without saying a word, crawled onto my back while I was on the mat and held on, expecting me to carry him through my vinyasa. It was adorable. But it totally ruined my flow. So I ended my practice minutes later, after periodic breaks in focus, while Chris and Max ate their breakfast.

As I worked on what would be the final poses of my morning session – and, as always, the most challenging – I played around with the idea of headstands. Headstands are my measure for preparation this month: I had in my mind that I would like at least be able to get into them before the start of teacher training this summer. And, unfortunately, my positioning and confidence in my body both indicated it was not going to happen.

“I think I’m months away from headstands,” I said.

“Really?” Chris said, “I don’t believe you. Try again. Against the wall.”

I winced.

“I just don’t think it’s going to work. I’ve never been confident in them.”

“Ok. Fine. Keep working, then.”

He gave a few instructions and, with almost no hesitation, I was suddenly up in a headstand.


“Are you seeing this? Are you watching?!”

“Yes, I see it”

“This is amazing!”

“I told you so”

I let myself down. Then, for good measure, tried to get up again. And I did. By the third time I instructed Chris to get a picture.. this was a milestone moment for me – and it had to be documented.

And shared on Instagram.

And text messaged to all of my friends and family.

And written in a blog post.

And I’m still going to talk about it at least 50,000 more times. Because I’m SO so proud of myself. And because I totally didn’t believe it was possible until Chris challenged me. And then I did it.

So, friends, the lesson here is twofold.

Believe you can do it, and you will.

And for the moments when you don’t believe in yourself, and for the moments when you need extra encouragement, make sure you have someone in your life that can challenge you to try.

Believe in yourself, friends. You might just surprise yourself.



Julie Love Gagen

After unexplained illness, with no diagnosis, forced me to take medical leave of absence in college, I chose yoga as a path towards healing. For me, it was a gentle way for me to get back into my body. And the experience, and practice, gave me the confidence I needed to believe I could heal. It worked. And it’s been magic ever since. In 2012, I chose to do a personal wellness challenge – 30 days of Hot Power Yoga – in celebration of my 30th birthday. The studio I picked was Baptiste Yoga in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The studio which, just a few years later, would be the inspiration and the setting for my RYT 200-hr Yoga Teacher training. The style of yoga I teach is a little different from what you’ve seen before. In my class, we focus on strengthening your core, elongating your spine, and finding the ideal position for each body, regardless of what it looks like.