Category Archives: Yoga

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.

Teacher Training: My First Weekend

I guess I might as well just start writing about my experience. At least, as long as I can keep it up. It’ll be my “Teacher Training” series — a six month Special Feature on The Diatribe. Maybe I can finally start making some loot of my blog.

The class sessions for Saturday and Sunday focused primarily on the anatomy of the human body and specifically how your muscles and bones respond to specific actions in the body. A very fascinating (and interesting) way to learn about the various part of the human body — though, I’ll have to admit I still feel as though I have my work cut out for me.

Thinking about the weekend as a whole — from Friday evening through Sunday evening, I’ve spent well over 12 hours being engaged in yoga-related activities. Between practicing at home or at one of the Yoga Tree Studio, my training classes, coloring bones & muscles, and conversing and blogging about yoga —  I’m hooked.

And let me just say — I feel just extraordinarily blissed out. I’ve had many realizations this weekend about my life, the way that I interact with people, the way I am to myself. I am starting to see where this is going. And I really like it.

I’m also really starting to like the idea of teaching. While I might have gone into this for myself — I don’t know what might happen on the other side.


Teacher Training: A New Chapter

Tonight, I started a new chapter in my life. Slightly over a year ago, I decided to participate in a yoga class at work as a supplement to the regular workout routine that I was doing. Shortly after the class, I recall turning to a co-worker and saying how amazing I felt.. Not just the physical, post-workout toned feeling, but a sense of being completely centered and grounded. I had a glow. A clarity of my mind that I hadn’t experienced before.

Fast-forward a year and many yoga classes later and here I am writing this 30 minutes after the end of my first yoga teacher certification class at the Yoga Tree Studios in San Francisco. It’s a 200 hour program that runs just about every weekend from now through the middle of July. This whole week, I was excited but at the same time very nervous. Saying goodbye to free weekends made me hesitant that I made the right decision.

After tonight’s class, I know I made the right decision. I’m so excited to take my practice deeper. Whether I end up actually teaching or not, that doesn’t need to be decided anytime soon. I now know, however, that all the time and money that I’m investing into this program is without-a-doubt one of the best experiences that I will have in my lifetime. I look forward to the many hours of training that I’ll go through over the next 6 months and the great people I’ll get to know as a result.

Besides having one of my favorite teachers, Pete Guinosso,  lead several sessions during the training I was very pleasantly surprised to see another familiar face in my class. During introductions, I caught the smile of a girl I was friends with in Boston some many many years ago. Totally small world.

Throughout the coming months, I hope to update The Diatribe with various thoughts and experiences from my training. If this interests you, stay tuned. If not, stay tuned anyway — you might learn something. Tomorrow, we start with basic anatomy. My brain is going to be overloaded with memorizing bones, muscles, joints and ligaments. But I already know – it’s all going to be worth it.