“Yoga is not just a set of postures. It is a practice of living. Your practice includes how you choose to live off your yoga mat.”
I am officially finished with one of my yoga teacher training weekends = Sat 10am to 6pm and Sun 10am to 6pm, check and check! Normally we will also meet on Fridays 6 to 9:30pm but it was cancelled due to a heavy snow storm in the area. This was 1 of 11 total weekends of class time. I will also be attending workshops, yoga classes and doing homework assignments in between.
A little background = My study focus is on Vinyasa yoga. It is a hybrid between Hatha and Astanga. Hatha was the first physical form of yoga and it did not contain any flows, it consisted of holding a certain pose for a period of time. Astanga was the first type to link the poses together to create a flow or series of movements. Vinyasa is a hybrid of both because it links breath with body in a flow (Astanga) but also holds poses (Hatha). You may have heard of Iyengar type yoga, this is alignment based and uses a ton of props to get a person into the exact alignment for the pose. I actually hope to do a workshop with Iyengar type yoga to gain some experience.
So how was it? I survived!!! I am being only slightly dramatic, it was actually much more physically intensive than I expected. I figured we would practice our alignment in the poses (asanas). However I did not realize we also were going to cover both Sun Salutation A and B in one day. This is a series of movements combined together. On average a single Sun Salutation can consist of 10 to 20 separate poses depending on which variation you are practicing. Needless to say, we did a few. I actually lost count. It might sound ridiculous that I did not expect to move so much but I really did not have any expectations. I had only done techie training sitting in desks at computers. Monday I felt pretty rough. I am still a bit sore today but was at least able to get out of the house and go grocery shopping.
We were sitting on the ground on our mats for the entire weekend. I am grateful I thought ahead and purchased a meditation cushion. It was a lot to carry – backpack with books/notebook, yoga mat, cushion, snacks and water bottle but it was worth it. I recommend looking at yogaoutlet.com if you are going to any yoga workshop or class that requires sitting for a long period of time. It is a U-shaped meditation cushion and it worked very well. I expect to see many more classmates have them for the next class in March.
Saying the cues for each posture was much more difficult than I expected. During yoga you are completely silent. So it is not natural to be speaking at all during the practice. Also small things like forgetting that a body part is called a knee tripped me up. The cues have to be clear and concise, no fillers. You have only an exhale or inhale worth of time to get someone into their next pose and then give a couple quick refining cues to fix alignment. The goal is to be clear and also for the students to be safe.
It was more fun than I expected. The teachers are amazing. They put me at ease because they are not only knowledgeable but they really care for their students. They also radiate with love for yoga. Immediately I have a new found respect for yoga teachers everywhere. They make it look so fluid when they give us cues during class. I know it will get easier for me with practice but right now it is very difficult.
The students, I believe there are 22 of us in total, are really great as well. I was able to chat with a few before class and during our lunch hour. There is a wider range of ages and backgrounds than I anticipated. I would say my age is somewhere in the mid-point, I am not the youngest and not the oldest. Variety of occupations as well. I expect to make new friendships since we are in a unique situation together. We all start out anxious and unsure. We open ourselves up and become vulnerable by stepping outside of our comfort zones. We all know we will not be fantastic at this right out of the gate. We know we will need to put in tons of effort. We will have moments of triumph and moments when we question our reasons for starting in the first place. I look forward to getting to know the other students and hope to form friendships that are rooted in this special bubble of time.
I am finding a lot of joy in learning a deeper version of yoga than I knew before. I had read yoga books and online articles before but never at this level. Learning about the very long history (began around 3000 BC) and origins gives me a stronger appreciation of what I am doing on and off my mat. It is a lot of work, not easy, but I love it. I actually suspect that if it was easy, I would lose interest. It is a topic that I enjoy and I am honored that I have the time and opportunity to be on this journey. We began class with setting an intention. Mine was to open myself to new things, a new way of life. My life has drastically changed from being a technical program manager to now studying yoga, managing a blog and an having an Etsy shop. I used to be scared of change. Now I welcome it. Looking back, everything happened for a reason.
Right now I have reading assignments and I am reviewing my notes. I decided to type them so I can move around or highlight anything I need to focus on. I am also practicing giving cues for the postures that we learned. I am just talking out loud to myself at home and then hoping that my husband is willing to give me 10 minutes on the weekend to practice. My yoga guinea pig!
In case you want a book recommendation, I am listing one that we are using for class that I already read through once and really enjoyed. I am also listing a couple that I purchased to read on my own.
- The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar
- Journey into Power by Baron Baptiste
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: A Visual Meditation by Melissa Townsend