Saturday, February 26, 2011

Reflections: Yoga Teacher Training Day 1

Where do I begin?

What an awesome day. I feel a little tired, but refreshed. I feel confident, but still have so much to learn. I learnt that I am not as flexible or strong with my asanas (postures) as I used to be. But I quickly latched on to the first sutra - verse - of the first book of Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali,

Now we begin our practice

For me, this is an important thought not to be forgotten, but embraced. Yoga is the moment. It is not about previous experiences, or future practices, it is about being centered and clear. It is about sharing the practice. It is about practice. I have to lose the need to be the most flexible, strong and balanced. I think I am almost there. Today's teacher training lesson allowed me to do that.

We began the morning with Ujjayi Pranyama - breathing techniques - and meditation with Teacher Michael. This allowed me to become centered and remember my fondness of learning and practicing breathing techniques over 10 years ago. Meditation followed for five minutes. I must have been in a deep meditation because I got lost in the moment and it felt like less than a minute for me.

I judged myself too harshly during Teacher Sucharita's asana flow. I found the postures asked for strength I didn't seem to have, and for balance which had escaped me. My inability to 'master' the asanas made me internally unbalanced, which only added to my frustration and showed in my poses.
Throughout the day I learnt to accept the idea that Yoga is about practice. It is momentary. Every day and every practice is different. I shouldn't compare myself with the 16 year old ex-gymnast I used to be. I have to move on. I have to practice Yoga now.

In a way, I feel that I am beginning my practice from scratch. Learning how to be grounded. Learning how to stand in a seemingly simple tadasana - mountain pose - correctly. I have to pay attention to my feet, knees and hips in a way I have never had to before. I enjoyed 'pulling apart' the poses, body part by body part, and teaching techniques with other students. We are more hard on ourselves than each other. Being able to correct each other and learn more about the pose was enlightening. A roll of the shoulder here, and slightly bended knee there, and the pose becomes deeper and stronger.

In the first book of The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, a sutra really struck me,

Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form


I wrote in down in my notebook, to serve as a personal mantra. However, when it came to the last activity of the day, chanting, I couldn't get past it. The chant today was Hare Krishna. Immediately my mind raced to stereotypes. I thought of the lyrics of  'I am the Walrus' by The Beatles and of students at my university in Australia coming to lectures with a shaved head and bare, dirty feet. After reading the handout we were given, I understood Hare Krishna to be a universal feeling of spiritual awareness and inner peace.

I reread the sutra I had previously written down. I tried to chant and join in, but I held back. I had dove into seated quiet meditation earlier in the day, but I couldn't perform this type of meditation. Maybe chanting isn't my thing. Maybe I have been consumed by misconceptions. Maybe I just need to let go. Maybe I am just not there...yet.

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