Week 3 of Yoga Teacher Training

Day 15:

Sunday, October 14

Good practice! Lindsey is growing on me more and more as a teacher. Something about her really brings out the best of my practice! Polina, Derek and Lindsey really bring my practice to a whole ‘nother level.

The rest of the lecture hours were cool. We practiced teaching Surya Namaskara A and B. I just need reps. I’m going to be doing a lot of work this week drawing up a plan, going over what I’m going to say, and playing it out. I may start some mentor hours this week too. I am a little intimidated; I want to practice it on my own some more first.

My hips are loosening up! My hips and feet are two of my weak links. As my hip flexors increase in flexibility, lotus position will become available to me, which opens up 3-4 new postures for me to practice. Pretty excited!

Day 16:

Monday, October 15

I slept in Monday morning. ‘Til 9 o’clock! Well, technically I got up at 7am to eat, but then went back to bed. Didn’t meditate either. Ruh-roh!

I’m pretty sure my sleep was disrupted that Sunday night. Can’t remember precisely how disrupted. I wasn’t gung-ho about going to Janus’ class anyway. Nathaniel suggested I go to some evening classes to trick my body, gaining some more motivation.

Not a good idea. For one, Salinee’s evening class in Rancho is, um, not very challenging. It’s not easy but it was far from what I expected. It’s labeled Ashtanga yoga on the Addicted to Yoga schedule, so I expected it to go through the asanas sequentially. Negative. Instead it was on some modified vinyasa flow / single mom mid-life crisis ish.

As soon as I walked in I felt a different energy. It was a small, dare I say intimate, class, with three or four other women, all looking at least 30. I wanted to leave! The energy was communicating to me that this was not my place.

But I toughed it out! Salinee’s a solid instructor. I just wish it was more challenging.

Evening classes don’t work for me, though, because it disrupted the hell out of my sleep. I “had” to eschew my hot bath and meditation session. Okay, I definitely could’ve fit the meditation in, but it was 90-plus degrees Monday and a hot bath did not sound fun in the mid-afternoon. I tried to plop down and sleep as soon as I got home at 8, but it wasn’t happening. After the bath, though, I knocked out like a baby.

That’s two days I’ve not meditated. It’s odd how that happens. Sunday night I had wine, and meditating on any kind of drug is the antithesis of meditation. Monday morning I overslept. Monday night I just described. Sunday morning? Maybe I did. Don’t remember. Regardless, I cannot tolerate any more lapses.

Day 17:

Tuesday, October 16:

I’ve been too hard on Bryan. Or today was just a good class and I am overcorrecting. Or a bit of both.

One thing he does well is get us in and out of poses very quickly. Sure, I prefer to get the whole five breaths, but it’s an hour-long class, and 15 to 20 minutes of that are Sun Salutations and ten minutes for Svasana. That doesn’t leave much time for the Standing Series, the Primary Series and the Finishing Series!

The fact of the matter is Ashtanga classes are scarce. I need to take what I can get. If I can’t or won’t make evening classes work — and I could, but I’d have to drive there, and gas is far from cheap — then morning Ashtanga is all I’ve got.
Missing a class over what amounts to behaving like a primadonna is unacceptable.

This morning was the first day I felt a guttural need for Ashtanga. Not just any yoga class will suffice! Ashtanga every day or the day feels empty. Yes, I have definitely gotten over that short-term hump, that pain period.

One thing I would like to pay more attention to are my Drishti points. I felt zoned in on them today and felt a substantial difference. Even when there was a person in the line of the Drishti, I looked right through them. That’s particularly important when there are substantial quantities of potentially distracting bare flesh.

Day 18:

Wednesday, October 17:

OFF

Day 19:

Thursday, October 18:

Bryan is getting better. I am beginning to enjoy his class!

I feel like this was his first time getting an extended opportunity to teach, and there was/is a large learning curve to overcome. I can tell he’s working hard to improve. Respect.

My favorite thing about him is that he is active in fixing our alignment. He is vigilant in looking out for and offering help.

I have taken Polina’s advice to heart. She told me that… I’m not exactly sure what she told me, actually. I know I just told my brain that I can fix it by tightening my uddiyana (suck your stomach in and flex your core while tightening your anus. Feel that pressure in your lower back?) bandha. Tightening that bandha substantially increases the depth of my twist and the straightening of my back, aligning my hips with my core.

I am excited to take her class again because I want more adjustments. I want to be challenged. With an instructor like Polina, I feel she’s watching my every pose. In all the other classes I feel like the instructors write me off, saying, ‘Okay, you’re advanced for this class, you’re doing fine,’ even when I know I am not truly pushing myself.

Yes, I am observing myself not pushing myself. I just hadn’t felt it. I felt like my body needed to become adjusted to the physically demanding output, and that I wanted to give my brain a rest from constantly fretting over alignment so I could just be. That sums up about the last week of my practice.

Tuesday I felt it at the start, although it petered out. Today I did not feel it at the start — my monkey mind was particularly flamboyant, I observed, even in Surya Namaskara B — but felt today ended up being my best practice in said week. I was concerned that my fasting would disrupt my pratice — ego at work again — but it actually enhanced it.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. Yoga with Janus in Rancho in the A.M., then weights with Nathaniel, and not to be missed this week, Ashtanga with Derek Black! OH YEAH! GIVE ME AN OM!

I feel like busting out into cheer! Hahahaha! Give me an ‘A’! You got your A, you got your A, give me a ‘U’! You got your U, you got your U, now gimme a ‘M’! What does that spell?

OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMnomnomnomnom.

I’m tellin’ you, natural highs.

Day 20:

Friday, October 19:

I overslept.

I initially woke up at 1 AM. I did not get back to sleep ’til 4:30. So I predictably overslept. Which means if, I had a mind to, I could’ve gotten up in time, by notifying my mom to wake me up before she left, or setting an alarm, or telling my body I wanted to be up at 7. (It usually works!) But I decided to prioritize sleep. So it goes.

I felt out of shape the rest of the day. I am literally becoming addicted to yoga!

Ego was attempting to talk the speaker out of evening practice with Derek. He convinced me at various times, until I decided once and for all I’d simply go. You do not solve these problems by thinking about them; you solve them by not thinking and just doing.

“You’re fighting an enemy that does not win by fighting harder than you. It wins by convincing you that fighting is not worth the effort.”

Derek’s class lived up to expectations! That is a phenomenal feat considering I had only the highest ones. Other instructors are cool but they have not gotten me to push myself like that. Woah! I know it’s going to be a good class when I am dripping with sweat after Surya Namaskara B. That happens occasionally, even often, in other classes; it occurs every single time in Derek’s.

He’s got this thing down pat, man. He projects his voice and enunciates so clearly, yet does it without any hint of stress in his voice. It’s akin to a monologue from God, coming down from heaven to assert His mandate over your practice. Instructions are given consistency but in rhythm! The latter is, in my opinion, the most important part. Anyone can train themselves to project their voice and enunciate. I tend to automatically change the way I speak to a more authoritarian style whenever public speaking (from class presentations to job interviews) are required. But it’s pausing that is key. Shoving too much information with every “inhale” and “exhale” is distracting. Derek has the exact balance where, after a while, you don’t have to listen to him; you just hear and do.

It is difficult to put into words. It allows you to begin to surrender yourself to your practice. There isn’t this constant checklist of “Okay, bend forward; are my bandhas locked? Am I breathing? Am I forcing anything in this pose? Yadda yadda.” He’s got you covered, because really, if you just surrender to deep, full breaths, it’s a chain reaction; deep breathing primes you to lock those bandhas; focusing on the present moment heightens your awareness, which increases sensitivity and therefore reaction time; said breathing helps increase your body temperature, increasing your flexibility, increasing the exertion you put forth, releasing more tension from the body, thereby allowing you to more fully surrender yourself…

Occasionally I was so caught up in how perfectly difficult, challenging, and freeing this practice was that I began to get carried away on the most lovely thoughts. Even that is a danger. Stay in the present moment.

A practice like that fully energizes you. It inspires you, makes you more sensitive to the deepest, most subtle yearnings of your Higher Self. After that practice I know what my calling is. Yoga is the only thing that does it for me, and yoga is really nothing more than a tool, the ultimate tool I have found to quiet my mind and to allow me to surrender to the ineffable God. After practice I wanted to go home and meditate for another 30 minutes, another hour, for the rest of my life. The harder you work in yoga the more it purifies your body, your mind, your lifestyle. Only the purest of Light is allowed to enter the Godhead. Absorbing yourself in the process, the often excruciating, mind-numbing, monotonous, ego-tripping process, must be embraced. Not only can I do this, I will. I must. I am.

It is easy to forget it’s only been 20 days of this. Time is seemingly slowing down and speeding up for me. Growth is occurring for me so rapidly that it seems I’ve been working at this, whatever this is, for years. Yet I am pushing myself so much harder, more consistently, than ever before that it is so tempting to rationalize myself to stop, to look back, as if pondering on the chain reactions leading to this moment results in a genteel stroking of the ego that keeps it alive, desperately grasping on to the last remnants of its existence.

Day 21:

Saturday, October 20

Good practice with Polina. I am close to getting handstands down. I am ready to challenge my fears.

She is too negative, though. She kept adjusting me, which is fine, even preferable, but for a time it was like, What, I can’t do anything right? The cardinal rule of any critique is, First you praise, then you fix. If it’s just fix, fix, fix, you not only risk engendering ill will, you virtually guarantee it.

It wasn’t intolerable or anything, just something I couldn’t help but notice. I am particularly sensitive to that kind of behavior. But the benefits of the expertise more than make up for it.

Things that are not yoga, like running and lifting weights, are beginning to bore me. I want to do more yoga. Two a days or something. Unfortunately, ATY doesn’t offer a ton of Ashtanga classes, and if it ain’t Ashtanga it’s done.

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