Well, we just completed our second full weekend of the Teacher Training, and what a full weekend it has been! On Friday evening we began to learn more about the philosophy behind yoga from Darren, and then on Saturday and Sunday we took our first asana classes with Chrisandra Fox Walker. I woke up this morning reflecting upon all that I’ve learned just over the course of three days, and really began to realize how life-changing this experience is going to be.
Although I knew going into the training that I would learn more about as asanas and alignment, I don’t think I really had anticipated how much yogic philosophy would play a role as well. On Friday night, Darren so aptly asked us what a yogi was. After we suggested that it was someone who does yoga, he poignantly corrected us: A yogi is someone who lives yoga. We also learned that yoga is the yoking together of that which is perceived to be separate. When we start living yoga, all the separation melts away. I would guess that most of us in this training, knowingly or not, decided to immerse ourselves in this because we wanted to stop doing yoga, and instead begin living it. This, of course, is no easy task.
Darren taught us about the basic philosophy behind Hatha Yoga, replete with a quote from someone he considers one of the greatest yogis of our time: Michael Jackson. On his album Dangerous, Jackson proffers: “Keep on dancing until there is only the dance.” Jackson’s thoughts behind his dancing are, it turns out, quite pertinent to the praxis of Hatha Yoga. In addition, we learned about the illusions of plurality and duality, and about the differences between the self and the ego. We learned about karma and dharma, and about how in reality, we can only make changes at the level of the mind. It was really helpful to have read some of Darren’s book, The Urban Mystic, alongside hearing his teachings. I already can’t wait for next week.
Over the weekend, we continued to absorb philosophy from Chrisandra, while also learning more about asanas. In addition to being captivated by her vibrancy and presence, I think that a lot of us were immensely humbled by the knowledge that she imparted in us. She began by giving us some tools to go through this training with – tools that I think will not only continue to guide us through this training but through our lives as well. She suggested that we really minimize distractions, and that we make choices that support our growth. It’s better to conserve life energy, she suggested, rather than continue to expend it and have to build it back up. She suggested that we build in buffer time in our life, so that we stop frantically rushing around trying to fit in more than we have time for. She also proposed that we get into a good daily rhythm of sleeping, eating, and resting. I think that being mindful of these suggestions even just over the past couple of days has already rendered subtle shifts in my own body. The power of simple choices really is so amazing.
Chrisandra continued to teach us about Hatha Yoga philosophy, with attentiveness to relationships between asanas, energy, and breath. We spent time learning Tadasana really well, which up until this past weekend I had always stood rather mindlessly in. We learned basic posturing cues, and even began to teach and correct fellow students. It was really eye-opening to realize how different each of our bodies is, and how no two people will ever stand in Tadasana exactly the same way. I’m already eager for next week’s classes with Chrisandra, and look forward to integrating some of what she taught us into my life this week.
After class on Sunday, I stayed in the studio to take a Vinyassa class with Kerri Kelly. At one point Kerri was talking about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in relationship to a pose. I exchanged a smile with a fellow teacher trainee who was in the class with me, as up until that day, I wouldn’t have really understood what she was talking about. Suddenly it made sense. I think that practicing yoga on the mat is going to change immensely in coming weeks for sure.