I finished my YTT-200 at @dharmayogastudio last weekend. For those uninitiated in yoga culture, it’s the first level of yoga teacher training. It was 11 weekends straight, both days. We learned Hatha, Anusara, Restorative, Chair yoga, Yoga sculpt with bands, Fluidus (this cool method of yoga based on functional movement – I definitely want to delve into that more deeply), Sutras (the philosophy of yoga), meditation, up-levelling and down-levelling poses, Sanskrit, sequencing, and on and on.
I also kept up my practice of six days a week of my own yoga practice and attended as many different styles of classes at Dharma I could.
I did not have a clear intention going into the program. I just knew I wanted to do it and had been dreaming of doing my teacher training for a few years now. I had gotten pretty far in my self-study practice, but the teacher training brought me so much farther. I’m so glad I did it. And yet I still feel like I’m just beginning to scratch the surface.
I thought I would take the course and would come out feeling stronger, more confident and and more sure of the direction my life should take. I was right and I was wrong.
I am definitely stronger. I can do Pincha Mayurasana (forearm handstand) and handstand (which for some reason in Sanskrit translates to upside down tree) at the wall now and even pull away from the wall and balance for a few seconds before coming down.
I was in a car accident last summer and deal with low back and neck herniations, so I avoid shoulderstand and deep forward folds (which I used to love) but I learned how to modify poses and strengthen the muscles around my injuries, which helps with the pain. The techniques I learned to help myself will also help me be more aware when teaching others with injuries. Our teacher and owner of Dharma, Natalie gave us a wealth of instruction on how to do truly inclusive yoga. Besides the yoga philosophy, I consider this to be the most valuable take-away from my training. I am so thankful I chose this studio.
But as far as confidence and certainty, I think I’ve actually taken a step backwards. I feel completely clueless. I feel unqualified. I feel unmoored. I feel like I have so much left to learn.
So for the first time in my life, I’m surrendering. From as far back as I can remember I’ve had a very strong drive to “get somewhere” or at the very least to get something I wanted. My grandmother used to love to tell the story of when she took me, my sisters and my cousins (all girls) to Hawaii when I was 7. I was by far the youngest. We each had a budget for spending money for the trip and I blew through mine in the first day. When I asked for one more gaudy tchotchke and Momo said no, I replied, “You’d think I could get one measly thing.” Unfortunately this pretty much sums up my mindset throughout my life.
I have felt constantly thwarted by life. No matter how much I get our how many needs I have met, the next “No” feels catastrophic. I’ve often referred to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as justification for this, when in reality it’s just being spoiled. But I think our culture reinforces this. Dissatisfaction is what keeps the wheels of commerce going and I’ve been a willing participant in the culture of never enough.
I feel now like I’ve been shaken awake. I think the yoga, starting when I committed to a daily practice a few years ago and culminating in the teacher training, unlocked gunk that’s been stored in my 47 year-old muscles for decades. And the stuff that I used to use to run away from my undesirable feelings, the striving, the obsessing, the comparing to others, has stopped working. Really, it never did, but I kept at it thinking somehow eventually I would find the magic key that would make it all work.
I’m giving that all up. For the first time I’m TRYING to listen instead of force. I say trying because I keep forgetting and falling back into the obsessive thought. But in yoga and in meditation, the practice is not to maintain perfect alignment or awareness all of the time. It’s the goal, but not the practice. The practice is noticing when you’ve come out of balance and bringing yourself back, over and over again.
Today I woke up disgruntled and restless. It’s the first weekend in three months that I haven’t been in the studio all weekend and I’m back to my Sundays off of yoga. I went straight to the meditation pillow for 30 min. Just as I was finished, my husband came and asked me if I wanted to join him at the beach while he kited. I almost said no. I was about to do my usual cocooning in the house, trying to figure out just what was wrong with my life and how I was going to fix it. And then a realized what I was doing, changed into my suit and grabbed my hammock. And here I lie next to the ocean with a beautiful breeze rocking me gently. Right now I feel good. I may feel disgruntled in an hour. But right now I feel good. And for now that’s enough.