As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, I finished the first 10 day session of yoga teacher training. I wanted to write about everything while it was still fresh in my mind but I knew that if I tried I wouldn’t sound very coherent because my brain was FRIED. In fact, I’m pretty sure if I attempted to write a post so soon after the session, it would turn out like this: “yoga yoga aldkakadfa I want cake aldjakf yoga ahdalkdfjakjfak”.
So here I am with a clear mind, a week later, and ready to reveal why those 10 days have been so emotionally, physically and mentally challenging, and why those 10 amazing days will go down as one of the best 10 days ever. Get ready because this is going to be LONG…and I’m only covering a few things with this post too. Yikes.
1. To start, our first day of class opened with a discussion on yoga and religion which caught my attention right away. I was raised Christian and always wondered if practicing yoga could conflict with my background but those thoughts were nipped in the bud immediately when our teachers explained in depth that yoga can basically enhance your own relationship with whoever your God may be. They explained the in depth history behind yoga and I was so relieved to learn that I wasn’t secretly converting myself to Hinduism.
2. Something I wasn’t prepared for going into this training was how much meditation would be involved. Again, I always figured that meditating was a religious thing with yoga so it was never something I went out of my way to practice. I meditated here and there for 10 minutes or so, without ever really knowing what I was doing so I never reaped any full benefits from it other then falling asleep (and sleep is always a benefit in my opinion).
Once I started the training, I finally understood that meditation is the practice of being still and learning to be present. The importance of this is so that we learn to be still and present in the moment when it translates to our daily lives. Being present in the moment allows the body to respond instead of react, so that when we become present, we learn to create space and reprogram our urges to react a certain way. It allows us to deal with whats happening the present moment, and not at just what happened or could possibly happen later. Does that make sense?
An example would be getting rear ended on the way to an interview. Instead of panicking and thinking “well now I’m going to be late for this interview, I’ll never get the job, I won’t be able to afford that vacation I wanted next year”, being present in the moment allows us to think about just getting through the accident without getting worked up over something that may not even happen later. You might be late for the interview and miss out on this job but what if another job that’s even more rewarding falls into your lap?
The point is to not get so worked up over something that may not even turn out to be horrible. It’s about taking what the universe (or God) throws at you, and learning to work with what you’ve got at the moment. And it’s about taking things in stride, and not letting your emotions get the best of you. Meditation helps us create this space before our emotions, so that we can learn to use our energy effectively elsewhere.
3. When people say that going through yoga teacher training is a transformational experience, they’re not kidding. During the 10 days I was in training, I noticed that I was letting things slide a lot more easily. When I got cut off by a crazy driver, instead of flicking him off or cursing to myself, my thoughts were instead replaced with “maybe he’s got a pregnant wife in labor” or “man, I am not a fan of you right now, but I still hope you have a nice day”. This applied to almost everything during that week and even now.
The thing is, I normally do think this way before reacting harshly, but I have to make such an effort to do so. During the training, I noticed that responding in a kinder manner to things that would normally irritate me, came a lot more easily and without any real effort. I became so much more calm and learned to look at things with peace, instead of anger. And I really believe that all the meditation we did is the biggest contributor on why I’m now able to control my emotions a little more. From meditating I learned that peace is a matter of retraining my mind to deal with life as it currently is, and not what I think it should be.
4. My teachers are absolutely freaking out of this world AMAZING. They know their yoga, and they know their shit. They live, breathe, and ARE all things yoga epitomizes. I have such an admiration for the two brothers that I’m doing my training under, and the word respect does no justice for how I feel about these guys.
During our lessons, they’re able to provide scientific evidence to almost every thing that is done during yoga and it utterly blows my mind just how much science goes behind it all. I absolutely love it. They’re huge science nerds yet they make it so appealing to those that are not with humorous anecdotes and by using real life experiences to describe things. They’re genuine, hilarious, and they really know how to keep a class interesting without boring us all to sleep. I mean, here I am halfway through my pregnancy and cooped up in a room for 11 hours and they still haven’t put me to sleep. That’s saying a lot here.
But what I really admire most about them is how they keep it real with their stories and their personalities. They have no qualms about admitting that they’re not perfect and that yoga doesn’t make them the perfect husband, brother, yogi, etc. which makes them so much more easy to relate to.
And look, there’s even a documentary being made about them (and a few other yoga gurus I’m a total fangirl about):
5. As I mentioned in this post, I got into yoga mainly for the health benefits. Then it turned into so much more for me when it clicked that yoga is so much more then just about the body. And even though the body is such an important aspect in yoga (why else would we do such amazing things with our bodies during our practice?) during this training I learned that there is so much more to yoga then I originally believed.
I’ve always prided myself on playing it safe with my body and never getting injured, so when it was stressed during our class that yoga is so much more then just sinking into our joints and trying to get as bendy as possible, I perked up. I was interested in learning the other side of this beautiful adventure that I can’t get enough of.
As it turns out, yoga doesn’t have much to do with our ability to perform a posture but everything to do with our ability to pay attention. We do poses because it teaches us to pay attention to our bodies and to learn to be still through the pose, so that we can be “still” in our real lives.
Another point that really stood out to me was that the highest level of practice is not the one that goes the deepest, but the one that knows it’s own body and is the most in tune with it. Instead of hurting ourselves to get into a deep pose, what happens in 10, 15, 20 years to our bodies? We can aim to get there, but at what cost? I learned that we should be strong with where our body is, concetrate on that very strength and not at what you want to get strong at. I learned just how important it is to always practice in a sustainable matter to ensure avoiding pain years from now. And I learned that we all need to be a little more thankful and kinder to our wonderful bodies.
Whoo! This post has gotten long enough so I’m going to end this here. But can you believe that I still haven’t touched on half of the other topics I really wanted to talk about?! I honestly can’t wait to discuss our spiritual discussions, the 8 limb path, breakdown of poses, and why there’s so much more to being a yoga teacher then just telling a class to inhale and exhale.
Stick with me here though, mmkay? I do have a pretty sweet giveaway coming up 😉