Teacher Training: My Inner Struggle

One thing that I’ve noticed over the past few weeks is how interested I have become in the philosophy and teachings behind the yoga practice. This past week we spent our Friday night class discussing the ideas of the Kundalini and the energy chakras in the body. I’ve found all of this to be incredibly fascinating. Ironically, after spending two hours talking about the energy that we can produce and give off, I rushed over to the Fox Theater in Oakland to see Girl Talk perform.

I had gotten there about 15 minutes after he had started and was immediately overwhelmed by the vibe the minute I walked in the door. As I’m entering the Mezzanine level, a stranger with a huge smile on his face walks by me with his hand raised saying “High Five, Brother!!” I look over the balcony and see a sea of bodies rushing to the music and everyone on the mezzanine dancing, jumping, going crazy as Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk) worked his magic.

You could feel the “energy” in the theater. Much like we had talked about earlier in class, there was something in the air that everyone could sense. Much like the rest of this past week, the evening was incredibly synchronous. Here’s where the conflict comes in.

Continue reading Teacher Training: My Inner Struggle

Teacher Training: Standing Poses

Another weekend has come and gone and I’m starting to realize that I’d have a hard time telling you whether I prefer the philosophy or alignment classes. This Friday night’s class focused on the Yoga Sutra and The 8 Limbs. I knew little of these ideas before, however, I really enjoyed learning about these concepts.

I find it particularly interesting to learn why these ancient philosophers explain why yoga makes you feel the way it does. Explaining why it is that you leave a yoga class with that “high” or “blissful” feeling and how to take what you learn during class and apply it to your day-to-day life.

We talked for a bit about meditation and the concepts of being a witness of your own mind in the present moment. To be able to sit patiently by as your mind does its thing, each time you drift off slowly bringing your attention back to the clarity. You can think of it as though the skill you are practicing is learning how to bring your mind back from these distractions — not to never get distracted.

Take today’s alignment class, for example. I don’t know if other people felt it, but I felt as though there was an incredible sense of peace in the room today. We started with a 10 minute meditation — and for whatever reason — I was able to completely let go, feeling completely relaxed in a trance-like state. Other times, though, I struggle to count to two before thinking about something else. It doesn’t matter, though, as long as you’re able to practice letting go.

After the meditation, we continued talking about external rotations of the hip and how this relates to standing poses. We then had a great hour-long practice where Chrisandra talked us into some very detailed standing pose variations. She would describe very specific muscle groups and you could pinpoint them tweaking your poses with very precise movements. The combination of the clarity from my meditation and this very focused practice made me very aware of my body and how it moves.

I attended Christopher Love’s hatha flow class afterwards — which was a great way to end the evening. I never felt I was struggling too much in any pose — I had a very strong sense of Sthiram Sukham Asanam throughout the practice and never felt as though I was pushing myself too far. Especially when we worked on the standing poses — being able to put into use what we had just learned was exciting.

I still have a ton of reading to do this week — though it’s always interesting. Another very intense and insightful weekend — I loved every minute of it.

Teacher Training: The Meat & Potatoes

Our first weekend of training was exciting and practicing throughout the week really helped extend the feelings of awareness and peace throughout my week. Come Friday, I was ready to dive in and get started with the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the program. Every Friday Night, Darren Main spends two hours discussing and talking about the  philosophy of the Yoga practice. And for the next few months, Chrisandra Fox will focus our Saturday and Sunday classes on alignment.

On Friday, our philosophy session centered around the ideas of The Self and the Ego. The gist being that your Ego is your protective shield, the inner voice that is telling you what to do. Whereas The Self is your inner being. Yoga means union — and is the union of many things: Mindy & Body, Soul & Spirit, Self & Ego, Sun & Moon, etc. The core of it being that you are centered and balanced at this union. When you are balanced, you can let go of the Ego. Let go of the voice that says “I can’t do this. I am not strong enough. I am too tired. I am afraid. I am too proud.” By letting go of that voice, you can let your real Self shine through.

After class on Friday, I thought a while about what we had talked about. Thinking about the traits or characteristics that my Ego holds on to… things about my perception of myself that I carry with my in my daily life, but are not really true. Things that I want to let go of. The point that was made in class was that “the way we act today, is rooted in who we were in the past. If you want to change who you are tomorrow, you have to start with the present — letting go of whatever has been holding you back.”

Saturday morning, I found myself going to Janet Stone‘s Level 2-3 Vinyasa Class. I’d only taken her “mellow flow” classes, which I often found challenging,  so I was somewhat intimidated by what I might encounter in her more advanced class. Several times throughout the practice, I found myself fearing what may come next. What pose she was going to put us into and whether or not I’d be able to handle it. At these points, I had to remind myself of what I had learned the night before. The importance of quieting the mind and letting go of expectations. By the end of the class, I felt refreshed and much better than I had only hours before. I also realized that the class wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be — giving me a better sense of what to expect in the future.

Chrisandra’s alignment sessions as part of our teacher training program were extraordinarily enlightening and enjoyable as well. We spent the first hour talking a bit about philosophy and the importance of alignment. We talked at length about the concept of
Sthira Sukham Asanam which roughly means “a strong & steady, yet calm & comfortable seat.” This is basis of any yoga pose. You should have feel strong and supported, yet relaxed such that you can stay in the pose for hours.

We talked about Tadasana, or the Mountain pose, for most of Saturday & Sunday. Taking time to talk fellow students into the pose and make verbal alignment corrections as well. Hearing my own voice as a teacher was a bit unnerving at first, but this is something that will come with time and practice.

A bunch of us attended class after our training — and it exciting to practice together. After all we had been through the first few weekend, it’s fun to actually do yoga together.

I’ve come to really enjoy this point in my weekend. My Sunday evenings. I shower, change into some comfortable clothes, and relax. Letting everything that I learned just soak in and enjoy my space. My space in my own body but also the personal space of my own apartment. I’m ready for another week.. another week of work and another week of learning.