25 Things I Discovered in Yoga Teacher Training

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

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Before I signed up for yoga teacher training I spent months over-analyzing my decision. I talked to friends who had gone through it and read books about all things yoga. I Googled every question that popped into my head about what to expect.

The idea of spending so many hours away from my family scared me. I also worried I’d get burned out half way through and not want to continue or, worse, I’d burn out on yoga and never want to do it again. No combination of words in a Google search box could calm those concerns for me. So I did what I do when I’m not brave enough to say yes- I said maybe. For months.

Eventually I got tired of not knowing. I got tired of looking for someone else to decide for me. I got tired of second-guessing myself. So I said yes. I said yes with my whole heart even though most of my heart was trying really hard to hide. One of the themes of the Baptiste yoga methodology instructs us to “be a yes” and to “put our attention on what we want to have happen and be for it”. So I told myself that I’d be a yes for whatever teacher training threw at me and that I’d take really good care of myself along the way.

I knew that I’d be spending many, many hours away from home. I trusted that I’d finish teacher training able to teach a yoga class (though I went in saying that I had NO INTEREST in ever doing that). I had heard so many times that teacher training would “change my life” but I had always considered myself to be immune to such magic. I am too level-headed for that. I know myself too well. I am the exception.

I graduated from teacher training in February of this year and I now teach one class a week- so much for not teaching, right? As for my life being changed, I can’t distill everything that opened up for me into a single sentence. Instead, I sat down the day after my last teacher training meeting and wrote a list of things I learned through this experience. It took me out of my comfort zone mentally, emotionally, and physically so many times and that changed everything.

Here are 25 things I discovered in yoga teacher training:

  1. A basecamp is a place to re-supply and fill up so we can venture out safely and with the greatest potential of success. Keep your basecamp small so your life can be big. A yoga mat is about the right size.
  2. It is possible to fall in love with a whole room full of people. Gathering with humans in a meaningful way is so, so beautiful. Even when we are messy. Especially when we’re messy. The kindest thing you can do for someone is to listen to them speak their truth. The most love you can offer is to speak your truth too.
  3. If you lead with your heart, you can find more space. I mean this literally as in a forward fold or figuratively as in sharing your whole truth until the scary stuff doesn’t rattle you anymore.
  4. The same old thing can be both a great comfort and a great place to hide. We need stability and foundation but we also need to look out from new (and often scary) vantages to grow.
  5. Sometimes we learn new things in quiet and unhurried ways. Sometimes newness comes in immersive and all-consuming waves. In order to survive the full-blowness of these times and really get what we came for, we have to trust the process.
  6. The pursuit of pleasure is not the same as the pursuit of happiness. Pleasure is momentary and easy to find- like chocolate chip cookies. Happiness comes after a long, sweaty yoga practice or a weekend by the ocean. We sometimes have to work for it. Pleasure lets us come out of hard yoga poses early; happiness keeps us in because we know how good we’ll feel for staying.
  7. I don’t need to drive out to the forest and build a campfire to find warmth. What I need is always with me. Reverence can be as simple as a tiny candle in a dark room.
  8. I can do flip dog to wheel. This feels like a superpower.
  9. I don’t need to fix myself. I just need to show up. To yoga, to my relationships, to it all. Some days I am feeling all kinds of “f#@$ it”. Show up anyway. Not because I have to but because I told myself I would.
  10. Sharing favorite foods in community is another way to share your heart.
  11. Yoga is something we do over and over and over again. We do this until it becomes a part of us and its power becomes our power. It is something we keep returning to on and off the mat. This practice offers us unlimited opportunities to begin again. When my mind is so full I can no longer hold it all, I come back. When I get carried away by my thoughts and fall out of a pose, I come back. By the time I roll up my mat, I am emptied out in the best possible way. This works every single time.
  12. You know how it looks when a sunbeam shines through the air in your house and you see dust and other particles that you didn't even know were there a moment before? Meditation is kind of like that. The light comes in and you find things you didn’t even know were inside of you.
  13. Sometimes I’ll fall out of side crow and it will be the funniest thing that happened that day. Maybe the laughing was the whole point of the thing in the first place. You never really know what goodness you’ll find when you’re brave enough to try hard things.
  14. Meditation teaches us to pause to choose our responses instead of reacting without thinking. We all have an uncountable number of defaults in our yoga practice, relationships, work, and every facet of our lives. The more we are aware and observe them, the more opportunities we have to interrupt them and show up as who we want to be instead.
  15. I have a history of turning things that I am doing FOR myself into things I am doing TO myself as soon as they feel difficult. Just because it is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Stay in the light.
  16. Don’t let going easy on yourself soften you into fear. Don’t let the comfort of being gentle on yourself convince you you are incapable of hard things. Perseverance is a practice too.
  17. How we do anything is how we do everything. The practice I do on my mat is the practice I do in my life. All of the lessons and gains are the same if you pay attention.
  18. Sometimes you'll go out in your backyard to meditate and, once you get started, you'll become aware that the wind is blowing just enough to make your hair tickle your nose. You'll wish you had a hair tie and, in addition to that, you could use some sunglasses because the sun is shining directly into your brain. Instead of going inside, you'll sit and know that you are sitting. You'll breath and know that you are breathing. You'll keep noticing the wind and sun. Or you won't. It is what it is. Because if you can go with the flow here and now, then maybe you can in other situations too.
  19. Sometimes dropping into the couch and getting lost in an Instagram rabbit hole feels like exactly what I need. Don’t let these things steal your time, your presence, or your life from you.
  20. When we don’t follow our heart or our intuition it isn’t always because we’re not tuned in to it. We think following our heart should feel good and right and it does, but it can also be scary and require a lot of hard work.
  21. The things that scare us the most come from our imaginations. The monster under the bed, the what-ifs. These are all make believe.
  22. Rest is part of the practice.
  23. Part of being wholly healthy and happy is having something we love to work hard at. Something that makes us feel like a badass. We all need this. I believe this with all of my heart.
  24. Practice isn’t about repeating the things you can do well. It is for trying the things you think you can’t do at all.
  25. I used to think I wasn’t afraid of anything but I realized that isn’t true. I have just found some very comfortable places to hide. This is why I decided to teach yoga. The idea scared me to death but did it anyway because I really, really want to be good at it. I don’t ever want to find myself wishing I had done something that I didn’t do because I was afraid.
If you live near Folsom, CA I invite you to come take my class on Wednesday mornings at 9:30am at Spotted Dog Yoga. I would love to hear what you discover for yourself! xoxo

yoga family

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