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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A weekend of epiphanies and other happy things...

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Cypress
Just finished another yoga teacher training weekend. Hard to believe we are half way through already! This was the first time I actually had energy and a smile at the end! Usually they are so draining, but this weekend I had several positive things happen (in poses, in words, etc) which made it a lot more enjoyable. Even a negative thing (big back spasm and sciatic nerve pain during asana practice on Friday night) led to some positives -- ways to deal with back issues and ways to change my attitude and thoughts.  And... even better, it continued on into Monday. I will explain:

It all started on Friday night. Every other Friday we meet in the evening with a different teacher and discuss chakras and the poses to go with them. Last Friday night was the second chakra, the one that dealt with back and hips. Apparently it also deals with feelings your gut and everything is interconnected down there. So we started with an asana practice and partway into it my back went into a major spasm and my left sciatica flared up. I had to stop, everything. It made me cry! I found myself rolled up in a little ball just trying to breathe out of the pain. Well half an hour later or so, I was finally able to sit up and take a few notes. She came over to me and said it's not unusual for things to happen like that when the second chakra is being examined. I don't know if it was second chakra or just I did something funky to my back and it chose that moment to give me grief. Either way, it was very tender for the rest of the night and into the next morning. And at that moment I hated yoga and teacher training and the whole world.

On Saturday with Michelle back of the yoga studio, we talked about a pose and modifications and when and how the pose changes.  She said that we decide when it is really the pose – all the simpler poses and modifications are still also the pose.  That's when I have my first epiphany although I didn't really mention it until Sunday… The little movements even leading up to a pose might not be the "named" pose but helps make it possible or lead up to it. It is still yoga.  IT'S ALL YOGA. And suddenly I wasn't worried whether I could "do" a pose or not because I knew I was still practicing yoga.

Another thing that got mentioned when we were talking about props was to start with the prop. Figure out the language to use that explains to people how to use the prop and if you don't need it, put it aside. That is much better than partway through the pose saying "if you need a prop…" Because that makes somebody feel inadequate and discouraged that they cannot "do" the real pose.

Later on Saturday another teacher, Althea, came and talked about Yoga Therapy. She started with four important ideas:
  • Whatever you look for you will find.
  • Where there's a will, there's a way.
  • Where there's no will, there is no way.
  • When you lack the will to change, nothing will help.
She went on to discuss the role of yoga therapy in her work, what it is, and how it might apply to us and to yoga practice and teaching. I felt that even though she was speaking in general terms and often about what she was doing with a particular client, so much of her talk was focused directly at me. She talked about habits, slowing down, affecting change from the inside, stress responses, relaxation responses and many other important things. She talked a lot about being present, that the answer to much of our pain, which is loud and out there, is for us to get quiet and listen inside. She said that we have all the tools we need to help ourselves we just have to be present, quiet, and use them. She said yoga is not just exercise but also personal transformation.

Yoga is not just exercise but also personal transformation.

Part of the journey is taking responsibility and helping to heal oneself. It was an amazing three hours and I didn't want her talk to end. I have been mulling over the ideas she presented for the last several days and keep finding bits and pieces that are so helpful to me. Then we did a short Asana practice that included relaxation. My back had been a little tender at the beginning of the day, but she managed to find just the right combination of poses that help my back let go and I felt great afterwards!

Then on Sunday we continue to talk about poses, this time backbends, even the little ones and how finding ways to balance the forward poses with those that lean back are an integral part of yoga practice. My back was still feeling good from Saturday and as we practiced some of the slightly backward poses I realized how helpful they were. And then we talked about sequencing, how to format a good yoga class, and about themes.

To end Sunday we listened to a Dharma talk by Ajahn Amaro on relationships and how we see others. He talked about relationships of separateness and relationships of wholeness. I had never thought about relating to other people in those terms, but now that I've been thinking about it so much of my life has been based on relationships of separateness:  "me" and "you". These relationships always have you asking what will make you complete and often the harder you try the further away you get from the other person. Relationships of wholeness, on the other hand, are how we relate to others based on a letting go of self. Letting go will bring you closer. A lot to think about.

So I thought I was done with my epiphanies for the weekend, but it turned out there was another one in store for me on Monday. We started our observations of other yoga teachers and I chose Althea's mellow Monday morning class. We were to just sit and take in whatever we got from the class taking notes if we wanted watching the teacher watching how she related to the other students seeing what she did etc. So I started taking notes about what she was doing and saying somewhere in the middle of it when she was explaining some sort of modification she said, "Meet yourself where you are rather than where you want to be."

Meet yourself where you are rather than where you want to be.

Bam! As Smee said, lightning has just struck my brain."  I am often frustrated in a pose because I can't go as far as I think I should be able to. I can't stretch as far, I can't reach as far, I can't balance… I'm always seeing what I can't do or where I want to be and I'm not just accepting where I am at that moment. It was an awakening moment for me. Meet yourself where you are rather than where you want to be.

All in all I think this was a turning moment, this weekend and Monday, in my yoga teacher training. I had been rather negative about all the emotional stuff that had been drudged up and quietly complaining to myself mostly about all the poses I could not do. Things just changed. I heard the words I needed to hear, I felt that shift happening that put it all in a much more positive and helpful light. I'm not saying that something might not be difficult, as this whole teacher training has been and will be, but I think my attitude, and how I see things might just have changed a little. A little for the better, and that is always good in my book.

What a weekend!


  1. Oh, Rhonda. This post is so beautiful! I wonder how the Kramer and Alstad article would resonate with you now. Much love and gratitude for this practice.

    1. Thank you Kathryn! Sounds like it is time to go reread the articles and see if I see things in a different light. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a note!

  2. Thanks for sharing! I loved Althea's presentation as well, so many great insights there. I'm so glad you had an apostrophe =)

    1. Yeah me too! It's been a lot easier since last weekend to be positive about YTT. Thanks for stopping by Shannon!