Hello readers! Over a month ago I promised you regular updates about my experience in Yoga Teacher Training, and I’m sorry to say I’ve failed miserably at providing you with those. I think one reason I’ve found it difficult to write regular updates is because I actually needed a bit of a break from processing. See, I have to write journal entries after every yoga class I take (often more than one a day), and after every training session we have. That’s a lot of written reflection! So it felt challenging to figure out a concise way to discuss it in a post.
But I’m making this a priority, because it is just too wonderful not to share with you! First, I’ll just give you a little snapshot of the logistics: we have training 3 times a week, and are required to take at least 5 yoga classes a week, two of which are “C1” classes (a beginning Vinyasa Power Yoga class, the style we’re being trained to teach). Our early training sessions focused mostly on teaching us the basic sequence of a C1, getting familiar with the poses, and the method of instruction (“Verb, Body Part, Direction!”). More recently, we’ve started delving into some of the juicier aspects of yoga: the philosophy of yoga, Ayurveda, anatomy, hands-on adjustments, etc. It’s 8 weeks long, and by our graduation day on August 5th, we’ll all have 200-hour Yoga Alliance certifications!
So how am I liking it? Well, at the risk of being totally predictable and utterly cliche: the experience I’ve been having in teacher training has been truly transformative. But before you roll your eyes, let me explain what I mean by that. This doesn’t mean I feel like a brand new person, or that I necessarily had any life-altering epiphanies, but it does mean that I am more in tune with my body, with my emotions, and more comfortable with the fact that “transformation” is a process. Thus, I’ve started to realize that even these subtle changes I’ve seen take place in my life are actually kind of a HUGE deal because they are shaping me on this journey that is a never-ending process, a never-ending practice. Training has ingrained in me more than ever that what we do in the yoga room translates seamlessly into the real world.
Let’s take my headstand practice, for example. Getting my body physically and emotionally ready for the challenge of the headstand inversion was a slooooow process. The first several months of my Vinyasa yoga practice, I totally peaced out during “inversion playtime.” While experienced yogis around me seemed to float their legs effortlessly above their head, I would either resort to child’s pose, or maybe play around with my crow pose. Several months in, I had a teacher insist that we all practice our inversions against the wall. Of course, my ego had been too large to go to a wall without the direct command, and so this wall headstand was the first time I ever had my feet above my head, and ever got to experience the sensation of the posture in my body.
And I sort of fell in love. So, in every class after, I would attempt the pose. Fortunately, in the beginning, I struggled so much and so obviously that many teachers would come over to spot me, giving me the confidence to take the pose. Now, almost a full year after I first attempted an inversion, I’m able to hold the pose on my own….
Some days, it’s just as scary. And one time, after a week or so of strong headstands, I ended up falling over and hitting the floor with a startling, hard thump. That scared me off of trying them for several weeks after.
And that’s just like life, isn’t it? Teacher training didn’t turn me into Kris Carr–(for those of you who don’t get that reference, just fill it in with “a glowing goddess who is always positive, never eats anything “bad,” and is just overflowing with good vibes”). But teacher training has taught me that, really, Kris Carr probably isn’t always Kris Carr. And that’s neither good nor bad, it just is, and whatever “is” is exactly as it should be.
That doesn’t mean that if we’re not happy with what “is” that we can’t work to change it. On the contrary, yoga gives us the tools to do exactly that. But part of that tool box includes forgiveness and compassion for ourselves and for others
if when we mess up. And by accepting that, I’ve found it a lot easier to succeed at being the kind of person I want to be in the world. I keep thinking, “I want people to meet me and not be surprised that I’m a (soon to be) yoga teacher.” And that motivation makes it easy to walk through life with more loving energy.
Of course, I have been learning these lessons as a student of yoga since my first Bikram class in 2009. But teacher training has provided my “Type A” personality with a framework that better enables me to internalize them. I respond well to structure, so having assignments to read yoga material, write yoga reflections, and practice even more than usual has been incredibly helpful for me. And the grad student in me is just sooo stoked to get to study for our upcoming test! Yes, in addition to demonstrating our ability to teach through instructing a mock yoga class, we also have a written test that will cover all of the amazing material we’ve been learning.
And as I’ve discovered as a professor, there is no better way to learn something than to teach it. And who better to teach than you, my lovely blog readers who might actually be interested in it! So, in the next two weeks, I’ll be doing posts that will also act as study-guides for me (in addition to my usual recipes, Friday Fives, etc.). The first one on deck: the philosophy of yoga, “the Eight-Limb Path.”
I’ll post that later this week, but check back before then for a recipe! : )
Any readers out there thinking about teacher training? Any questions you’d like to see me address in future posts?