Week 5 of Yoga Teacher Training

Day 30

It’s only been 30 days? Feels like it’s been my whole life.

Monday, October 29

Full moon! Traditionally in Ashtanga, you’re not supposed to practice on New and Full Moons.

Janus pointed out that it was a full moon in the middle of class, and suddenly everything made sense. My body felt inexcusably off. Heretofore it was the most challenging day of practice in my life. After that bit of info, though, I had more compassion for myself and it was fine and dandy.

I am consistently improving. My hips are gradually opening up. My core is getting stronger and stronger. Locking the bandhas are constantly on my mind. Polina pointed out that I do not open my shoulders on upward dog, so I worked on that today. My shoulders felt very tired throughout the practice. But Polina’s tips help; my vinyasas are feeling a whole lot better. They just feel right. And now it’s getting easier. I feel it helping my whole practice.

All in just one month?!

One thing I have been lacking are my mentor hours. I still have to type up a script. I wrote out the script for the first 15 minutes, but I have to type it up and type up another script for a one-hour Beginning Yoga class. It is hard to find time to do these things. That’s an excuse. A shitty one. I hate school.
Which I now have to go to.

Day 31

Tuesday, October30:

Janus’ class is a revelation compared to Bryan’s! Wait, I thought I was supposed to stop comparing?

The 5:30 class was crammed. Unlike her morning classes, Janus gets the “bitch room” for her evening ones. There are ~10-12 people and while it wasn’t “authentic yoga in India” packed, it was “Americanized yoga” packed. (What does that sentence even mean?)

Almost every time I go to the studio to practice yoga I think of J-Zone: “Ass and titties all in the street!” Hahahahaha!

But it’s easy for me to regain focus. Chances are I’m just as attractive to the opposite sex as they are to me. And I hate when I catch people giving me those questionable sexual glances. It feels like it strips me of humanity, like I’m a greasy piece of meat ready to be fried across your white-hot gaze.

Thus the Golden Rule.

Anywho, practice was pretty awesome. I am beginning to feel some sick progress relative to where I was a month ago. Persevering through daily practice really pays off! It’s hard to pinpoint any one area of fitness where I feel particularly adroit, because yoga fine-tunes them all: flexibility, strength, and endurance.

Flexibility? Okay, we know about that. But it’s easy to write off flexibility as the least important physical quality — I know I did for the longest — primarily because we Americans are so terrible at it. I believe the brain tends to convince you that if you’re terrible at something, it’s not worth investing any time in. Waste of resources.

But flexibility is the most important, in my opinion, because it’s the most important aspect of our humanity, of what makes us No. 1 on the food chain. We got here by being the most adaptable.

As a result, “flexibility” implies all the other aspects of fitness, when you really stop to think about it.

With regards to strength, it’s tempting to say yoga particularly targets your core, which is true to some extent, but the truth is yoga zones in on your weakest links. Those tend to be the joints: neck, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles.

(Aside: one of the things yoga really makes me avid about jumping back into again is martial arts. The two compliment each other like peanut butter and bananas!)

A lot of people overlook how effective yoga is in increasing your endurance. Yoga is so difficult it often feels like you’ll never make it to the end if you give it your all on every pose, but if you push through that feeling and do give it your all, your endurance becomes incredible very quickly. Physical and mental endurance, because yoga is also very technical. The alignment on each and every pose is much more technical than lifting weights, running, or any sport. And when you cheat yourself out of that alignment, you cheat yourself out of the fruits of yoga, and after all, if you’re going to push your mind and body to the limits, you want to get the most out of doing so, no?

Day 32:

Wednesday, October 31

No yoga today due to work release, but I stopped by for the hour-long “Get Your Corpse On” meditation guided by Dave.

My thoughts? Eh. Soon after I laid down I realized I don’t need a guided meditation, at least not from Dave. (No offense.) I can get into the zone all by myself, in my Meditation Room. It’s just a matter of will. It’s easier to go to some place outside of your self. But it’s always less fulfilling.

I also should’ve brought a stone.

Day 33:

Thursday, November 1:

Challenging. Difficult. Felt off after 36 hours without yoga. Had one moment where I seriously contemplated walking out. The room was extra hot today, with both heaters going in a fairly cramped room. I left early, to stay true to my bedtime. A really strong day of practice.

Day 34:

Friday, November 2:

Went to Liberation Yoga in L.A. High quality studio! Fantastic art adorning the walls. Very cramped waiting rooms, however.

The rooms themselves are spacious. I heard good things about Pagan. He delivered! Awesome practice. Unfortunately the last 30 minutes weren’t nearly as strong as the first hour. The first hour was very intense. I have heard that Iyengar stresses fundamental alignment, which excites me to no end. That amps up the intensity of each pose. I love the fact that my alignment matters so much! No cheating allowed!

I have a whole different perspective on many poses as a result. There are downsides, however: an insufficient warm-up and the fact that we only covered maybe 10 poses.

Pagan is a high-level instructor. No doubt about that. He’s everything you’d want: detail-oriented, encouraging, humorous, light-hearted, descriptive. I will definitely be back at this studio, one way or another.

On December 2nd they have a free two-hour introductory class to Iyengar. Weeeee!

Small sample size and all, but first impressions is that this blew away Addicted to Yoga. If ATY is a C-level studio, Liberation Yoga is a B. That may seem low, but I am a tough grader. You really have to earn the praise you get from me.

The practice was truly humbling. I was starting to get a little full of myself. This knocked me down right back to beginner-level. Feels good, man! Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

Derek seemed a bit distracted and unmotivated this evening. My muscles were tired and sore coming off lifting with Nathaniel.

My arms were tiiiiiiired in those Chaturangas and Downward Dogs. Those poses don’t look like much, but when you’re doing them properly, they are killer. I almost reverted to Child’s Pose!

This was, physically, my most challenging practice. But I felt so light afterwards!

Day 35:

Saturday, November 3:

I am sore!

I wanted to talk myself out of going to Polina’s class today, but we know how that goes. Yoga is in my soul; the past month has proven that no matter how icky I think I’m feeling, I feel ickier when I don’t.

Fortunately Ricki White subbed in for Polina, who is out sick.

I’ve never taken part in a class led by Ricki. She is a middle-aged woman who likes me, and therefore presumably must know of me, although how I am unsure. I’ve seen her around in classes before; she usually practices in Polina’s class.

“At first I was like ___, but then I was like _. ” That meme describes my experience well. The room was waaaaay too cold: by far the coldest room I’ve ever practiced in. No excuse for that, especially considering this morning wasn’t the coldest time of day I’ve ever practiced in. There were not as many students as normal, but the biggest reason why was that the heater was not turned on until the start of practice, and it was only at 79 degrees. This has been a recurring theme; I need to be more assertive about getting the heater in there.

Unfortunately the room, nor my body, ever warmed up. At no point was I dripping with sweat. That barometer is, next to the breath, the most essential barometer to how sufficient the day’s practice is. Major points off for that.

Other than that, though, I loved Ricki’s style! Right from the beginning I approved: she led us through just one Surya Namaskara A, and then announced we’d do the next four on our own. Perfect! Ricki gave us space, and the room felt enveloped in solitude as a result. After the class I thanked her for giving us space, peace and independence, as those are three of the traits I value most highly in instructors.

I am quickly learning no instructor can do it all. The traits I value most in instructors, in order: emphasis on breath; attention paid to technique, alignment and adjustments; ability to lead without suffocating; warmth of the room; gentle, yet consistent, reminders of bandhas and drishtis.

Few instructors are consistent on that final point. Even Pagan wildly missed the mark there.

Day 36

Sunday, November 4:

I was sore. Bryan was teaching instead of Lindsey. But none of that mattered. I had heat again!

Teacher training was intensive this week. That’s good. I improved by leaps and bounds today. I have been slacking on mentor hours, but now I’m beginning to gain confidence. I may ask Janus to mentor tomorrow.

My body and mind feel tired, however. I started the day refreshed: 10 hours of sleep! Now I am drained. I have worked very hard. Biking the 6-7 miles to the Transit Center in the morning, almost all uphill. Then the class with Bryan. Then 4 hours of teacher training. Then biking home. Now homework. Did I mention I’m still sore from Friday?