TEACHER SPOTLIGHT

CHARLOTTE KILBOURN

Studio Manager, Lead Instructor

I stumbled upon my first yoga class at 18 years old while attending a thespian conference with my high school theater department. To me, a self-proclaimed non-athlete, a yoga workshop sounded like more fun (and less risky) than attempting to learn stage combat—so there I was, fumbling my way through plank pose and downward dog, when I had a realization that these poses and movements actually felt really good to me. This was my first experience with mindful movement, and I had no idea how much that was missing from my life.

 

“I felt lost and confused, as though something was missing in my lift but I wasn’t sure what”

 

In college, I did a few yoga DVDs and kept up an inconsistent home practice, but I allowed life to get in the way and placed my yoga practice on the back burner for a few years. After graduation, I felt lost and confused, as though something was missing in my lift but I wasn’t sure what it was. I lacked direction, and I felt myself approaching a very low point in my life. Then like clockwork, in 2011 my sister got me a month-long membership to Mandala Studio in Atlanta. I gave a few classes a shot, and I was hooked. I asked the studio if they were hiring, and I started working at the front desk in exchange for free classes. I didn’t realize that, through so many years of a non-committal home practice, what I desperately needed was a community and place of belonging. After a year of dedicated studio practice, I researched teacher trainings and discovered an ashram in Hawaii called Konalani Yoga Ashram. I signed up for their 200 hour immersion program in February of 2012, and I went to Hawaii with the greatest of expectations for my training experience. I left thinking that I would return a full-fledged, confident, strong teacher. My training was such a rewarding and incredible experience, but I returned to Atlanta a certified, but brand new and terrified, teacher. I tried to teach, but ultimately I let my fear get in the way. This was going to be much more challenging than I had originally thought. So I became a student again, and I poured myself back into my asana practice. I was more committed than ever, taking classes and workshops, learning pranayama and arm balances, and falling in love with being a student again. I loved this journey back to being a student, and I had a much greater appreciation for my teachers than I had ever had before. But in the back of my mind, I knew that something was still missing. I was not at the low point in my life that I had been in previously, but I still felt like I was destined for something else.

 

“But every week, I kept showing up, and slowly it got a bit easier to show up”

 

When Carly Grace approached me in 2014 saying that she was opening up a studio and wanted me to teach there, I was absolutely terrified. But for some strange reason, I said yes. I taught one class a week for the first year that Thunderbolt was open, and every week, I was petrified to teach. But every week, I kept showing up, and slowly it got a bit easier to show up. After one year, I picked up additional classes, and I kept reminding myself that all I had to do was show up. I just needed to show up for my students for this one hour, even if I was nervous, even if I just wanted to come up with a good excuse not to do it. The more that I taught, the more that my “fake it ’til you make it” confidence became something real, something that truly belonged to me. In late 2016, I started teaching full-time, and I haven’t looked back. Since then, I have begun my continuing education journey at Laughing Lotus in New York City, mentored several new teachers under Thunderbolt’s rigorous mentorship program, assisted with teacher trainings, lead a yoga retreat to Panama, and taught over 1000 hours. Honestly, I feel like I owe so much of my yoga and teaching journey to two things: the people who believed in me before I believed in myself, and this quote by my once-teacher Paul Sahlin who told me “You don’t learn to teach by getting a training or a fancy certificate, you learn to teach by teaching. So keep showing up.” And now, I am taking his words of wisdom to heart again, and I am showing up before I’m ready so I can help start this amazing new journey with a dream team of human beings at Yonder Yoga.

 

“Be brave… Be weird… Be unequivocally you”

 

I am beyond excited about this new chapter in my life, and I am honored to help guide new groups of trainees through the process of discovering their gifts and offerings as teachers. I already love this community so much, and it’s only the beginning. So wherever you may be in your life or in your yoga practice, come as you are, show up, all in, Your community, your home, is right here waiting for you.