yoga training through YogaWorks


Jade, the owner of the yoga studio I frequent and my teacher, asked me if I would take her Wednesday drop-in class this week.

I hesitated not.

This coming weekend will be my final teacher training session. Tests, demo teaching, Sutra presentations – the works. Teaching for real was just the thing I needed to prepare.

Over the course of training weekends, we practice teach on each other. It’s not the same as having real students and reminds me of practicing on my fellow students back in university. During the run up to student teaching (I was an English major), we’d craft lessons that we’d present to each other as though we were actual kids in a classroom.

Yes, that’s just as empty of substance as it sounds.

In yoga training, practice teacher of other yoga teachers usually devolves into workshopping as we pull poses apart and share our perspectives with each other. Not that this isn’t valuable. It has value – just not as a way to gain teaching experience for the “real” world.

Yoga studios are so not the real world.

The drop-in class is 45 minutes of what is basically an abbreviated Ashtanga practice. Surya A and B, Standing, a wee bit of seated, maybe Bridge, possibly a twist or two and Savasana.

I started on time and ended on time. Forgot to start Surya B in Utkatasana the first time and got turned around on my left vs right a couple of times, but no one fell over, everyone sweated (people who come to Ashtanga expect sweat in an oddly Bikram sort of way) and at the end, some were smiling and everyone said “thank you”.

There was an older woman, who’d never been to the class before – and who only studied Hatha previously – who might not come back.

But otherwise?

Great success.

Why?

I was teaching. Like teaching for real. I didn’t hesitate. It felt homey and I slipped right into the role as though it was crafted just for me.

But I am a teacher and always have been and that’s a hard instinct to put aside. It was only a matter of time before I found my way back to it.

I don’t know that it prepared me in any way for this weekend’s testing. I feel over-full of yoga at the moment and am not certain I can access anything specifically or consciously, but I am not worried about whether or not I am a yoga teacher.

The photo is urdhva dhanurasana or wheel pose. I totally pulled my left levator muscle and irritated the hell out of my trapezoid at the same time coming up into that earlier in the week. I hurt as I demo’d in class despite having gotten there 40 mins early to warm up. Consequently, I won’t be doing the arm balance practice on Friday – which I could use because my arm balances suck (a very un-yoga but entirely accurate, in my case, term). But, I was psyched to get up into the pose on my own. I haven’t come up into a wheel since I was ten – at least.


After a blockbuster run on the keyboard, words trickled grudgingly this week. I managed two post for Care2, though one was nixed for not being “newsy” enough.  My assistant editor really liked it, however, which is a slight consolation.  The civil rights piece was a first for me, but I worry about writing stuff like that for this audience.  Many of them are a hair’s breadth step from being Fox Mulder and don’t need paranoia-feeding.  Oh, and I turned in a lame mommy thing to 50 Something which goes up next week, I think.

It was spring yoga cleanse at the studio. Yang-yin every morning. Yang in honor of the spring. In the fall and winter, yin rises. Coming off a training weekend, I had my doubts about energy levels, but I surprised myself, dug down and found quite a bit of strength and vigor.

Back to running too on the treadmill.  Intervals.  Pounded out 35 minutes without breathing heavy which is an encouraging commentary on my core fitness, but it made yoga a bit tricky.

I hadn’t thought about it before last weekend, but running undoes my yoga.

We were standing about after a practice teaching lab with Kat, the instructor, and discussing the various fitness routines – in addition to yoga – that we had and someone asked her what she did.

“Um, I do yoga,” she said, in a tone and with an expression that implied that the question itself hardly needed to be asked*.

“You don’t run or bike?” Puzzled looks all around.

“Well,” she said, “friends ask me to hike or bike and I usually don’t because those things ruin my yoga. They tighten my hamstrings and glute’s and quads. Too much could undo all my work.”

I ran this by my regular teacher, Jade, and she concurred.

“You’d need a good thirty minute post run stretch to counter the tightening, ” she said. “Also, you were a runner, so your body has learned to be tight and will want to go back to that more readily than it wants to loosen and lengthen.”

Yikes.

But I think I will keep on with intervals at the very least, just need to balance.  And I am so all about the balance.

*Kat is an uber-yogina. She told us the story of a guy she worked with in L.A. who told her she had a fierce “game face” when she practiced – ashtanga – which she hadn’t realized. Our faces are supposed to be relaxed, no tension.

“Yeah,” he told her “it’s like – fuck off, I’m doing yoga.”

I love that.  It should be on a t-shirt, integrated into a lotus design. Patanjali would not approve though.


If you want page views, you should use the phrase “outing myself” somewhere in it or talk about dead people. Although the latter is usually the bigger draw here, I’ve had amazing results with the former this week though I suppose they are technically one in the same.

The last hour of training this last weekend was wiled away with Patanjali. I didn’t have much to say out loud. My opinions on life, energy and the transformation of true self (some people refer to that last as “soul”) are not fully formed and stray far afield of generally recognized lines. Mostly, I listen. Most of the others in the training are younger than I am, many of them could easily be my daughters had I been an early mother. I recognize a lot of passions and ideas that I’ve long since discarded. I am struck by the optimism and that’s a feat because I’ve always found it difficult not to err on the side of Pollyanna’s dreams.

A few things.

First was something I touched on in a reply to Sharon’s comment yesterday.

It’s easy to believe that you have the answers. Read a little Yoga Sutra. Cultivate a yoga practice. Eat quinoa and shun milk for soy. Enlightenment!

No, not really. There is a common feel to the Yoga Sutras. Issues we grapple with today can easily be addressed within its teachings. But that’s so with most philosophical/religious texts that have stood the test of time. The bible. The Koran. The Talmud. Even some of the timeless literature, The Iliad, Cinderella (did you know that every culture has its own version of her story? every single one.) Human beings are complex in their utter simplicity.

Yoga is a good path for the me as I am at this point in time. I would never speculate in detail about decade from now, but I feel safe saying that I will still be following this path or at the very least, a tributary.

But I have no answers. Sorry. I won’t be jumping into guru mode or overlaying sutra on my experiences or vice versa. The margin for serious error is too high.

Monks in Tibet sit around with sutra-like texts and debate it. I am a bit skeptical of my own ability to do much more than merely relate to it and pick up a theme here and there to run with. Apply it to others? Not so much.

The other thing that came up was the whole “religion” problem that yoga has. It clearly has meta-physical roots. One doesn’t have to read to far in before the “g” word comes up.

One young lady, who reminds me of DNOS and Edie in some ways because she has this tiger aura about her, brought up the fact that it is simply disrespectful to gloss over the religion in yoga. One doesn’t have to personally embrace it to gain from a yoga practice but to ignore or disparage it is … rude.

Rude is not the word I would use. I would say “arrogant”. In a very white sort of way. But I’m a fallen away American, and the my adopted country folk are often kinder than I am in their assessments of things.

Finally, our instructor, Kat, talked about the Hugging Guru who’s achieved such a level of  “yoga” in terms of non-attachment (quite different from “detachment”) that she radiates joy. A person can physically feel it radiating from her being like a soul heat lamp. Even before she is seen, people can feel her. A lightness permeates them and once in her presence, a single hug is a bath of love. As a result of this – um – enlightenment? – she really embodies what Kat described as “being in the world but not of it”. Therefore, this woman has caretakers. People who make sure that her physical needs are met, that she gets to where she needs to be when, and that no harm comes to her.

Not most people’s reality.

But,

I realized, and not for the first time, that it comes pretty darn close to mine. And that can’t be an accident, can it?