Taking the plunge into yoga teacher training

Photo: hands are placed on the back of a supline yogini
Sometimes another person can help dissipate the stress that seeps into the back

Today, I started my second week of yoga teacher training (YTT) at Thrive Yoga. It’s a small group, five women and me, and we worked through the weekend. We get a half day off on Wednesday, and then we’re free on weekends.

With the loss of my day job at the OAS in April, a window of opportunity (motive, time, energy and money) opened up to take the July intensive course at Thrive. A month-long, 200-hour intensive allows me to drill down in the physical, mental and spiritual realms of my yoga practice. Other YTT formats stretch out over six-nine months (meeting one weekend a month) and would be hard for me to sustain because I can’t see that far into the future. In addition, I believe that it’s essential to feel safe and empowered within the sanctuary of a home studio, like Thrive Yoga, with teachers, mentors and fellow students that support a transformative process.

When I was considering the decision to take YTT, I listed the pros and cons in parallel columns on a legal pad (some of the considerations went into a previous blog entry). At the end of the exercise, I could not determine which way the balance leaned, but I knew that I wanted to take the YTT. It’s not a “career” move or “what’s expected of me” or  therapy for a physical injury. I look at the July intensive as a yoga immersion experience. I don’t necessarily plan to become an active yoga instructor, but I do want to fine-tune my “inner teacher” by diving into the experience and letting yoga work its magic. If I don’t take the training now, when would I be able to take it?

At a pivotal moment in my life, I have multiple options: fly off to Paris, have an affair, go to school to get a graduate degree, look for my ideal retirement community, go back to Peru nostalgically to relive my younger years, trek the Appalachian Trail or take a course to become a massage therapist. Instead, I decided to hit the yoga mat. That’s where I’ve found the most unadulterated satisfaction (even happiness) in my life and relief from the unnecessary suffering that I afflict on myself. The practice has allowed me to get through some tough times. It stirs my artistic instincts through photography and creative writing. It sparks my intellectual curiosity. It provides a framework for dealing with psychological and physical issues, as well as a challenge.

Watershed or sinkhole

Photo: yoga teacher helps a student
Thrive Yoga’s Susan Brown assists a student to get deeper into half moon

I see YTT as an opening for tabla rasa experience, a purifying process that burns through the knots and kinks that I’ve driven into my tissues over the past six decades. In the end, it may give me a clean slate on which to project my future life. That’s a tall order, but I just have to show up on the mat each morning at 9:30 am and take child’s pose and wait to see what unfolds in the tapas of the practice. Then I wing it through the course work on teaching methodology, human anatomy, asana lab, pranayama and meditation, ayurveda, subtle energy theory and yoga history. There’s more reading than possible for someone who’s been exhausted physically and mentally during the day. There are online resources to explore.

I had plans to blog regularly during my YTT experience, but the July intensive is so compressed and demanding physically and mentally that there’s not a lot of juice leftover at the end of the day. Sometimes, I just feel as if the practice has blown out  the pillars of physical and mental framework, and I am left bumbling to pick up the pieces. I am forcing myself to write tonight because, otherwise, I am never gong to come back to record my thoughts.

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