Yoga Teacher Training: Days 2 & 3
After our first "real" day of training yesterday I came home and slept until this morning so I apologize for the late post. Its only been two days but I have already learned so much! It would take me pages and pages to go over exactly what we go learn, but I'll give everyone an overview. Feel free to ask me questions if you ever want more details!
There are a total of 10 students in my training. We start everyday with 30 minutes of breathing exercises. Here's a challenge for you: Put a hand on your belly and breathe in. Does your belly extend out, or does it seem to go up? For me, when I was first asked to do this, my belly went up. For as long as I can remember, I have "sucked in" my stomach to make myself look smaller. When you breathe though, your belly should expand outward. You are filling up your lungs with air which takes more space so it should extend outward. Its something I need to practice. My class will continue to work on our full breath everyday, making it easier over time and also learning to lengthen the time our inhales and exhales take. It might not seem like it, but its a very hard and tiring practice.
After our breathing exercises, we do an hour and a half of asana practice. Jolie, our teacher, seems to incorporate the poses we will be learning in depth later on in the day, into our morning practice. It is a solid hour of building strength and flexibility. I go through at least 2 towels. It gets so hot in Bali!
We then have an hour break for breakfast. I can easily say we are all starving at this point. We are also very sweaty. So there is always the choice of a shower and rushed breakfast or just to suck it up and be sweaty but enjoy a casual breakfast. I've just been sucking it up. Hey, I love my food and Ill dry off. Haha!
We come back to learn about history or anatomy. I am very interested in anatomy because I have heard of so many people being injured from yoga. When I do teach yoga, I want to make sure I know how the body is supposed to move and what parts are being engaged. We are asking our bodies to do movements that can truly be so intense and I want to make sure I know the anatomy behind it.
After anatomy, we start learning about different poses, how to teach them, modifications to make them easier, variations to intensify and we look at our classmates in the poses to see how different they can really be. Yesterday we worked on Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and Utthita Hastasana in Tadasana (Raised Arms in Mountain Pose). If you've never been to yoga before, its a basic standing pose where you can raise your arms. It sounds so simple but there is so much that goes into it. When you raise your arms above your head, its another level of complication that is added. In the picture below, you can see how different my Utthita Hastasana in Tadasana is from one of my classmates. I also bend my left arm funny because of an injury so I need to fix that.
What we think of as such a simple pose is really taught with such precision to those who are going to be teaching it. It's kind of comforting to see what a teacher learns after being a student for so long.
Today was learned Utkatasana (Chair Pose). This is a pose I have always had trouble with, but it is a basic pose. When we went through the mechanics of the pose, I almost fell. It's a humbling feeling, to see how much trouble you have with a basic pose. If that happened a year ago, me falling out of a pose in front of a bunch of people, I would have been absolutely mortified. Now, I am just happy to have such wonderful hands on resources showing me how to achieve the full expression of this pose and what I need to do to get there. Practice and progress go hand in hand and I am more than ready to put in the work to achieve that.
We end the day with a discussion on a couple of books, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and The Heart of Yoga. These go very deep into the spiritual and philosophical beliefs of yoga. We have barely scratched the surface, but there is one thing I would like to share. In The Yoga Sutras, the definition of yoga is: "Yogaś citta vr̥tti nirodhaḥ," or "Yoga is the control of the fluctuations of the mind." A simple idea, yet so hard to actually accomplish.
If you don't know the reason I first came to yoga, it was because I had absolutely zero control of my mind; of what I thought, of how many thoughts I had and the utter control they had over my emotions. It was impossible to turn my brain off! It was tiring and torturous. I was trying to work out everyday just to relieve some of my stress but nothing helped. I was sore and my muscles were tight, so I thought I would take a yoga class because back then I really just thought it was glorified stretching. I don't know if it was the time in my life, my thoughts on my relationships or my job, or the wonderful yoga teacher but my mind slowed down for that hour. I could only think of one thing: the movements of my body. It was a magical moment. I felt so light that I literally cried from relief. Thats what kept bringing me back to my mat: The immeasurable happiness that I found there.
I hope that through my training and my lifelong practice, I will come ever closer to truly attaining yoga. An even bigger hope is that I can help guide someone who is feeling like I was to that wonderful space on the mat, to that small moment of control, to relief.