Monday, March 28, 2011

Reflections: Yoga Teacher Training Day 10

Halfway There Already?

Yesterday I completed my 10th day of Yoga Teaching Training. Halfway there. Yoga Training at Our Yoga House is more like a Yoga retreat, or camp, than a course. We are greeted warmly each Saturday and Sunday morning, are fed healthy and delicious snacks, lunches and desserts (most recently – red bean cheesecake- yum!). We have access to organic teas, plum juice and coffee, of which Teacher Sucharita’s family grows right here in Taiwan’s mountains. Students mix, mingle, converse and learn together, breaking down language and cultural barriers, forming friendships and spreading good energy.

As cliché as it may appear, we are a big happy Yoga family. We care for each other, learn from each other, even upset each other. But we are all there for each other. I am a little sad that it is already week 5. Only 5 more weeks to go! 

This really got me thinking - What will I do with my free weekends? Who will I share my leftist ideologies with? Who will inspire me to try advanced postures? Where will I get my cooking inspiration from? Where will I be able to talk about chakras and pulling in my ‘shining diamond’ or mudra bunda? Who will be the recipient of my unprofessional yoga massage?

My partner Jeff. Of course.

We will rekindle our free weekends with winding car drives and hikes; he will pretend to be sympathetic to my views on the environment and animals; he will un-yogi-like boost my ego as I demonstrate the difficult crane pose and wheel; he will be my cooking inspiration as I attempt to win over his stomach with delicious vegetarian meals; he will try to lend an ear without rolling his eyes as I teach him about energy flows and chanting; and finally, after learning asanas from me, he will gladly be the receiver of a neck lengthening, full body sprawling back compression massage. 

Let's face it, whether he likes it or not really  ;o)

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
(Pigeon Pose) variation 1

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
(Pigeon Pose) variation 2

Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance)
modified with a Yoga strap

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reflections: Yoga Teacher Training Day 6

Anger and Gurus

This weekend's classes left me feeling so light, happy and balanced. Workshops centered on the Chakras - Sanskrit for 'wheel' or 'circle', and Gurus - Sanskrit for 'spiritual teacher', as well as core poses and forward bends. However, it is often the lunch time talk with newly acquainted friends, which captures my thoughts.

The lunchtime conversations between the foreign females can be just as educational and enlightening as the classes. Sunday's conversation centered on Anger. We all seemed to agree that girls, or at least the ones at our table, handle anger differently to men.

We spoke about our experiences with our boyfriends, husbands and brothers. It seems us girls don't take other's anger personally. If someone gets angry at us, or cuts us off in traffic, or says something nasty, we often react by feeling bad for that angry person, because they are... angry, unwell, troubled. While our male partners may get upset because they feel we are letting someone 'walk all over us', we feel that becoming angry would only make us upset. It is easier and more positive to let it go. Yelling back, or thinking violently only serves to make us mad - an emotion that we fell is not favourable.

I mean, everyone gets angry. But it is how you deal with that anger that got us thinking.

It seems that it is hard for us to convey this idea of non-negative reaction to our partners. Just as men may think that this approach to anger is frustrating, we too, find it difficult to understand how our dearly loved men can easily turn to violence to feel better or solve a problem. Perhaps it comes down to one thing. Hormones. Or perhaps, Empathy. It could also be that the world has distinctly moulded us into two groups. Boys and Girls. Men and Women. Even Lovers and Haters. Optimists and Pessimists? Maybe it is not a simple girl vs. boy thing after all...

Perhaps we all need a Guru.

Immediately when hearing the afore mentioned word, my mind races to stereotypical images of lotus sitting Indians, perched on the edge of the Ganges, clad in an orange loin cloth, with matted greying hair falling over a painted white face. Of course, I knew better than this. I know a Guru is a teacher, guiding one to their personal awakening. However, that cynical side of me that often rears its ugly head, popped up first.

Teacher Michael said, "Absolutely. You must have a spiritual teacher in order to learn about yourself." He said that he himself has many gurus. His wife, son, the ocean, a contented homeless man, every student he has ever taught. People who allow you to learn more about yourself and your world can be your spiritual teacher, your Guru.

You don't need to select a Guru. I think your Gurus will find you. It got me thinking Who are my Gurus?. Who has allowed me to learn about myself? The world? Books? Am I allowed to say Oprah? This is one I am going to have to think about...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Reflections: Yoga Teacher Training Day 4

Saturday's training session left me feeling refreshed and energised. I am beginning to love balance poses and felt extremely comfortable and relaxed in Garudasana (Eagle Pose). I felt my hips open in Virabahdrasana Tri (Warrior III), thanks to home training against a wall. I felt proud and my inward ego grew.

This is not very Yogi-like. Not at all. It is very natural to feel proud when accomplishing a difficult task or pose. However, this is not the point of Yoga. I was reminded of that fact today, Sunday, Day 4 of teacher training. Although my body and mind felt strong in the core poses, I encountered a great sense of contradiction when practicing 'Mindfulness Yoga'.

Mindfulness Yoga is about being aware of your body. Being in the posture in every way. Being an observer to your body. Being and enjoying the moment. It is about being able to stop, look and listen. Being present in Yoga. This means not letting the mind wander. It is feeling the sensations in your body. It is not attaching emotion to a pose; just... Being.

Yoga is not a performance. It is not a gymnastics display; you are not being judged or criticised. Too often however, there is a judge lurking in the darkness. This judge is the most harsh and unforgiving. This judge does not speak out, but acts silently. This judge is you. It is me.

I experienced this today. I experienced this harsh judge when the class and I were being guided through Mindfulness Yoga. I tried to pay attention to my body. I moved slowly. I breathed. I felt the asana. I felt my body tighten, my upper back muscles clench. I found sitting cross legged frustrating. I couldn't forward bend in the pose. I became restless. Annoyed. Frustrated. Angry. Useless. I became even more perturbed when I realised I was not allowing my body to relax, not allowing my mind to be in the moment. The whole point of the exercise was to be mindful. I was being judgmental. I relaxed in Savasana (corpse pose) and let my body rest. I began to become mindful. But when the exercise finished, I felt annoyed for being that judge that shouldn't exist in Yoga.

I know it takes practice.

Now we begin our practice.

Note to self: must remember.

Read more about my Yoga Teacher Training
Yoga Reflections
Day 1