yoga teacher training week 1
One of the precepts of yoga teacher training is to keep strict confidence about what happens in class and the people that I am learning from and with, so I want to be clear that what I write about here will only be about my own experience.
It has been many years since I took the seat of a student, and last week I was reminded what that means: trying to get comfortable being a beginner and fumbling around with a practice I know well, yet I do not yet know how to teach at all; never mind-well. We ended our very first session last Thursday evening with each of us leading our classmates through the Sun Salutation A series of postures.
My difficulty surprised me. I have been practicing Sun Salutations for 15 years; taking classes 2-3 times a week. Let's assume I did two Sun Salutations per class in all that time; then I've completed well over 3,000 of them in my lifetime – probably many more – and yet when I went to cue the movements the words did not come. In case you're curious here is the Sun Salutation A series without words.
the greedy student mind
All along my years of practice teachers have been moving me though this series of postures using cues and specific words, and yet I cannot recall or even conjure them up when I try to teach it.
It's a metaphor to our own default experience of life – going through the motions; without cultivating a meta awareness of how the structure of our experience works. I call this phenomenon ‘the greedy student mind.' For so many years people would ask me if I was a teacher and I'd happily say, ‘No! I just want to enjoy being a student'. Being led by someone else is a gift. It is something that I will always seek out in my life.
It's a metaphor to our own default experience of life – going through the motions; without cultivating a meta-awareness of how the structure of our experience works.
The same phenomena happens when you read an enthralling book; you don't really want to pay attention to how the author structured the writing of the book when you read it, right? It's the same way when you watch a movie. You don't think about camera angles, or set design. BUT – read enough books, and a bad ending can leave you feeling like a jilted reader. You might say to yourself, I could write a book with a better ending. It's at those moments that a seed of curiosity is planted in the reader's heart.
practice always leads to awareness
The thing is, when you've taken over 1600+ yoga classes becoming aware of the teaching starts to bleed through. You begin to see other students who need an assist or direction and start to want to help them. This is the beginning of the call to teach. formally or not; this is when you begin the journey to becoming a teacher. This part can last a long time. You start to search out more difficult classes. You might become frustrated that you did;t get to do a certain pose in class. You have a gnawing feeling that you need to start to get on your mat at home more and begin to teach yourself.
As a student who has had the fortune to learn from incredibly gifted teachers, it took me a long, long time for the seed to grow large enough to manifest itself the reality of myself in this formal teacher training fumbling around with how to teach Sun Salutations last Thursday evening.
I know that unless I pay attention to how to teach yoga while I am doing yoga, I will never become aware how to teach well. I am awakening my practice, my perceptions, and expanding my knowledge. I am aware that I need to be okay with not being good at this for a long time. It feels very good, and very humbling to be a beginner again.
And isn't this the true gift of getting older and wiser with practice in all of our endeavors? That in ALL of our life experiences we can become aware of how we move through life, attend to what works and how we may be of service to others. What seeds have been planted in your heart in this regard? Let them grow, give them time and the gift of practice and just see what comes of it.
Sharing a few extras I've come across in my training.
1. Sore Muscles Recovery Bath
1 C epsom salts
2 C baking soda
a few drops of essential oils (optional)
Epsom salts helps all muscles throughout the body muscles relax, which helps draw out the lactic acid buildup in the muscles that creates the soreness, stiffness, headaches, or swelling. It reduces inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps. The baking soda helps neutralize the chemicals in your tap water, primarily chlorine, as well as increase the mineral absorption in the epsom salts.
Soak for up to one hour.
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3. Daily Random Acts of Kindness
Over the course of training we are expected to do one random act of kindness every single day; no matter how small. It's probably been the very best part of this past week for me. I challenge you to do the same!