The first week at Yoga Tree’s one-month RYT200 training has been inspiring, exhausting, thrilling, and challenging. Having flown here from Boston last Friday, I’m adjusting to the [much better] weather here, the time change, the city’s culture, and meeting an incredible group with which to share the month-long journey of becoming a yoga teacher.
The diversity and dynamic of the group has created a great environment for growth; we are of all different ages, levels, and practices. Some have already completed a yoga teacher training, and some have been practicing for less than a year. A few in the group have already been teaching, some are here simply to deepen their personal practice. Students walk from their apartments to the studio, and some flew across the world – first languages including Hungarian, Chinese, and German! (Something about the yoga practice seems to inspire travel). It couldn’t be a better mix for this type of training, because our diversity allows us the opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences in a safe environment. The community so far has been incredibly warm, open, and collaborative.
Just as the students in the training are diverse, I really appreciate the variety of teaching styles and experience we have with the teachers. Yoga Tree’s training seems unique in that they are comfortable in contradiction. Each instructor so far has had a unique flavor, style, and knowledge base. They have all separately stressed the importance of us as students taking from the training what we will, and integrating it to create our own life and teachings.
Darren Main, Chrisandra Fox, Jason Bowman, David Moreno, and Harvey Deutch have started us with philosophy, alignment, assisting, and anatomy; while the subjects to be in separate realms, so much of the information is overlapping and each class seems to really complement and flow into the next. I think the most reassuring and exciting part of meeting the different instructors so far has been seeing that they are, in fact, HUMAN! So incredibly down-to-earth, openly admitting both flaws and challenges alongside their obvious success. They are both gentle and challenging in their teaching – which brings me to one of the very first things we learned, that I hope to take with me through this training period and also my yoga practice, teaching, and life – sthira and sukham.
Generally translated, Sthira is steadiness, while Sukham is ease. Holding your pose in yoga should be strong, steady, and grounded, yet light, gentle, and easy. This balance in yoga, teaching, and life, is both difficult to achieve and incredibly important. Physically, a pose that is both sthira and sukham is achieved by engaging muscles in opposing directions with equal force, so that the body is alive and balanced. One student put it beautifully, saying that yoga for her is a balance of being fierce and gentle at the same time. If a student is too sthira, I think of him or her is working much too hard, gripping the mat, straining and possibly in pain. On the other hand, a student that is too sukham will be lazy on the mat, paying no attention to alignment and flopping around. Neither looks like much fun… Striking this balance between being and becoming, comfort and motivation, suffering and bliss, will be an incredible tenet to come back to again and again both on and off my mat.