First, let me say that nothing kicks off a regular yoga practice than starting yoga teacher training! We’re practicing at least 4 times a week in addition to “workshopping” postures, lecture and discussion. Starting this week, we’ll also be observing classes. If you ever wondered who the seemingly random person was in the corner of a class, sitting on a bolster and taking notes in a journal, that person is in teacher training.
I’m learning a lot about my own practice through being on the mat and being much more mindful and aware of all the little things we’re discussing. Teacher training is very self reflective, much more than I anticipated. Yes, we’re learning how to verbally lead and direct a practice, and we’re learning how to safely adjust and modify poses. However, all of it starts from our personal practice and what we’ve experienced in our bodies.
Physically, I feel much more grounded in my hastas (hands) and my padas (feet). This has affected almost all of my standing postures, including one-legged balances like standing splits, half moon and warrior 3. I’m finding a little bit more lift and quite a bit of stability.
Energetically, I feel more connected to each practice, each day and each time. We spent the last few days talking about arriving poses – ones to warm up in the practice so you can get mentally present and ready to begin. In ashtanga, we didn’t really have anything like that; you stand in samastitihi, om, chant and begin. In other classes – be it hatha flow, vinyasa or otherwise – we may start on our backs or in seated meditation or on hands and knees. Those arriving poses ease you into the practice. It’s more of a sukha (sweet, surrendering, softening, receptive) approach. <– I’m learning a lot of vocabulary and philosophical terms too. My mind is e-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g.
Mentally, I feel stimulated. I have been hungry for this information and experience for quite some time, probably more so than I realized. I have been watching and absorbing and learning from every teacher whose classes I’ve attended over the years. I’ve been making mental notes all this time of what I liked and what I didn’t, what helped me make sense of yoga and what has confused me. After two weekends of training, I realized how well my ashtanga teacher Matt had taught me because I have a wealth of knowledge and understanding about many aspects of yoga to pull from already. THANK YOU, MATT. I have been listening all those years, and it has sunk in!
Emotionally, I’m feeling more comfortable and at ease. I mentioned in my other post how going into yoga teacher training is a huge departure from my original career trajectory. It’s scary and nerve wracking to take a less traveled road! It has also been a rough year so far for my family with the passing of my mother-in-law and a huge health scare for my oldest sister (thankfully, it was only a scare – she’s doing alright). The idea of nothing in life being permanent has been yelling at me all year long. As part of the training, we are reading Pema Chodron’s Comfortable with Uncertainty. This book and this training landed in my lap when I most needed it. And with every life event or angst-ridden thought that has popped up, leaving me feeling uncertain or scared or anxious, I am comforted by the idea that I am not alone in these feelings. I am also getting comfortable with the idea of facing my emotions and working through them rather than running away and hiding from them.
In observing classes these next few weeks, we’ll be watching the teacher and we’ll be watching bodies. I think the latter will be the most eye-opening for me. As a student, I have always been observing the teacher in a way – listening to his/her cues, feeling the energy they bring to class, accepting their assists and so on. But I’m not seeing other students’ bodies when I’m on my mat doing my own thing. As we get more familiar with noting how different people’s bodies move and different variations of strength and flexibility, it should make for more effective hands-on assists and modifications as teachers.
Seriously. Two weeks into yoga teacher training, and I am absorbing so much new, good stuff. More to come!