Better Yoga Teacher or Better Yoga Participant or Just a Better Human Being

Published: December 27, 2023

As part of the Drishti Beats 300 Hour Advanced Yoga Training final, we ask our students to take the journalist seat and write a spread in a magazine about their 300h training experience. We want them to reflect on what they learned, what they loved, what was challenging, etc. Below is the first article we publish in a new series called Beyond the Mat: Exploring the Depths of Advanced Yoga Training.

By Melissa Van Portfleet, RYT 500, Drishti Beats Alumni

My journey to become a 500-hour Yoga Teacher has been long and life changing. It has been everything I wanted and more. Sure, it had plenty of ups and downs and there were a few short moments of imposter syndrome. But in the end, I can honestly say that I have pursued the right goals for myself and what I want out of life. Taking an online course has allowed me the time to really learn and master the material I was given. I was able to practice and perfect my teaching voice and style. The depths of the chapter materials filled me with the knowledge to take my students on deep yogic journeys every single class. The weekly calls have given me a community I can lean into whenever I need them. I have learned more about myself and my own personal journey than I expected to. Because of this I am now confident that I am living the yogic lifestyle I am teaching to my students. This journey began when I made the decision to earn my 300 hours in one year. But why a year, you ask?

Melissa Van Portfleet

300 Hours in 365 Days

I chose 365 days because I knew it would be a challenge but also attainable. To reach this goal I would have to work on my course at least a couple hours a week. I left no room to fall out of my routine. While completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training with Drishti Beats I got complacent. I allowed myself to procrastinate. Because of that it took me longer than I wanted to finish. This time around I already had a routine in place. I knew how to study and prep, and I was comfortable with my filming skills. Knowing this, I challenged myself to finish the 300hr training in the same amount of time it took me to complete my 200hr, 365 days. I know what you’re thinking, a whole year? Why not get it done in a month or two like so many others. Well, this decision was how I landed on Drishti Beats Yoga Teacher Training in the first place. An online, work at your own pace, course.

Truly Immersing Myself

I have young children and am mostly a stay-at-home mom. I am not in a place where I can drop everything and travel to an exotic location for a month to learn yoga. I have responsibilities. I have no doubt that my husband, John, would have supported me in that decision but I personally couldn’t bring myself to leave him in that type of situation. I also could have found a local teacher willing to provide a live course with faster outcomes. But for me it wasn’t about finishing as fast as possible. This training has been about truly immersing myself in the material and applying it in real time to my own personal life as well as to the yoga classes I teach weekly. Taking an online course has allowed me to go at my own pace. To take breaks and absorbed the knowledge I learned. At times I would sit down to study and in just the first video I would find myself diving down rabbit holes on Google because I wanted to learn more about that topic. A live class wouldn’t give me that opportunity.

Melissa Van Portfleet Yoga Board

Music is What Feelings Sound Like

It wasn’t just the online delivery, the perfect price, or the work at your own pace that drew me to Drishti Beats. It was the music! I love music. I have music playing just about every moment of my day. I have a group fitness background where music is everything in a fitness class. It drives you, entertains you, and brings everyone together. I want my yoga to have this same atmosphere. Music can make all the difference in taking a yoga class from just OK to Great! Lori said once, “music is what feelings sound like.” I couldn’t agree with this more! I know, I know, seems too good to be true. You’re probably thinking that I felt lonely through this online journey. That I probably missed the comradery of a large in person group with memorable moments shared along the way. On the contrary.

Gather ‘round (Online)

With the weekly calls and through social media, it is easy to feel like my “classmates” were all right there with me. How cool that I get to chat with other individuals from all over the world who have the same passions, goals, and interests as me. The weekly Gather ‘round calls are a great way to share information, trade ideas, and hear other’s thoughts on topics we are all learning together. It is fascinating to hear the same sequence taught one after another by different students and learn something new from each one. One person can say something just a little differently and it can resonate so strongly with you. What I love about Drishti Beats is that even though you have graduated they still invite you to the weekly calls. It makes me feel like it isn’t just a learning environment but a space for friendships and community. They open the space, so we never stop learning! Lori and Jeremy felt like such good friends after only a few calls. And with the one-on-one check-in calls, you get an opportunity to be truly open and feel heard. Never have I left a call with doubt or hard feelings. Only encouragement and motivation. 

Healthier Mind, Calmer Emotions

It wasn’t all fun and games though. My biggest challenge throughout this training is also the main reason I pursued my 300-hour training in the first place. Not for the title on my resume, but for the knowledge and practice of storytelling. I had the physical practice down. I know how to teach. But I was lacking in my delivery. I want my students to walk out of my yoga classes stronger, more flexible, and healthier. But I also want them to walk away with a healthier mind, calmer emotions, and with tools to live a more fulfilling lifestyle, inside and out. This has taken me out of my comfort zone. I have learned how to research class themes, mudras, dharmas, and mantras. I have a small library of ideas that I can now pull from if I am lacking ideas for my next class. I also feel more confident in how I cue these themes. I have a better understanding of how I can teach these big ideas and have them resonate with my students. I now teach the full package. Mind, body, and spirit.

Melissa Van Portfleet - Warrior


Storytelling was the hurdle I was expecting. What I didn’t see coming was my own personal struggles with meditation. Starting every day with 30 minutes of meditation was easier said than done! Over the months in this training, I’ve come to accept that I am not a sit still meditator. I need movement and I prefer my eyes open. I try to start every day walking my dogs. It allows me the time to reflect on my previous day, my emotions, or whatever else I may be working through. It has been a game changer in how I manage my feelings. This struggle turned success is just one of the areas I have managed to overcome.

The Freedom to Move

Teaching off the mat was something I used to do only when it was mandatory. One year later, I feel confident in not only stepping off my mat for a small portion of the class but for entire sequences. I’ve built the confidence and ability to cue and coach without my body and it has given me so much freedom to dive deeper into my storytelling. I had to push my fear aside and just do it. It almost feels natural now to gracefully step off and, on my mat, to move into poses, then out again seamlessly. It leaves my hands free to help my students with hands-on assistance. It has leveled up my teaching. These new tactics aren’t just limited to Vinyasa Yoga anymore either.

Melissa Van Portfleet - pigeon

Yoga Workshops

Some things I didn’t expect to learn but am thankful I did are the Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga workshops. Yin Yoga is the routine I was missing from my life that I didn’t know I needed. It is such a popular class around here (Phoenix, Arizona), but I’ve always thought of it as too slow, too easy. But I was wrong. It took just one class for me to get hooked. Now I practice it at least once a week and hope to teach it very soon. And hello storytelling! There is so much room to teach and expand on topics while you get an amazing stretch. Speaking of a practice being slow, I can’t use sick, sore, or tired as an excuse to not get practice in anymore. Restorative yoga is here to save the day. With the help of props, anything is attainable. These slow moving, almost meditative, poses were a great way for me to continue my “almost” still meditation practices without getting discouraged.

Different Yoga Styles

While we’re on the topic of different yoga styles, have you ever heard of Terpsichore yoga? It was the hardest hour of yoga I have ever taught but also the most fun. Boy did this take me out of my comfort zone and test my endurance. I do not think I would have ever volunteered to learn this style of rhythmic yoga without Drishti Beats. 


Among all these different styles of yoga, my Sanskrit knowledge was developing without really trying. Sanskrit a second language? Yup! Just about. I feel like when it comes to yoga now, I think more in the Sanskrit names than the English translations. I never thought that would be the case, but here we are. I feel it brings in a sense of unity within the yoga community. Regardless of what your native language is or what one person calls a pose versus another, Sanskrit is consistent. It is easy to follow once you understand it. I really enjoyed that this training dove deeper into the history of the language and its pronunciation. Even the occasional written word as well.

Now I know you’re going to ask, “if I could go back and start the training over, would I choose or do anything different?” Absolutely not! Knowing what I know now, I think that every part of this training happened the way that it was supposed to. It all fit into my life so perfectly. I am a better mother, wife, teacher, and overall person than when I started. This journey has been life changing on so many levels, far more than I anticipated, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

So, if you’re on the hunt to become a better yoga teacher or maybe just a better yoga participant, heck, just a better human being then please do yourself a favor and enroll in Drishti Beats 300h Advanced Yoga Training.

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