I'm increasingly learning that yoga is the solution to literally all of my problems. The only thing I need to do now is transfer that feeling outside of my mat and into real life. Easy, right? Not so much. Even so, I feel that I'm getting there, especially after this morning.
I woke up hungover as dirt. When I first struggled to keep my eyes open, I knew I would focus my writing on how my hangovers are worse now that I'm almost in my mid-twenties (cue the existential crisis). But I went to yoga and teacher training, and the hangover complaints no longer seem relevant. Thanks to those 75 minutes on my mat, I can reflect in a healthy way rather than guilt myself. It happened, I had fun last night, and now I'm moving on.
I'm slowly but surely learning to integrate my way of yoga into my way of life.
Today, teacher training was broken up into two parts: practice and lecture. Before we officially began, we sat together and discussed who inspired us this week. For me, my first day of teacher training and my fellow teachers-in-training inspired me greatly. As someone with only a small handful of friends who enjoy yoga for the mental release, it was deeply relieving to find like-minded individuals to go on this journey with me.
The first 75 minutes were spent in action with all four instructors teaching in 15-20 minutes increments. With such a small student-to-teacher ratio, each teacher assisted each student several times during class, a gift that is rarely given more than three times each class (in my experience). At first, I was so excited to have my body continuously stretched and corrected in ways it had not been before. But as class went on, I felt like the adjustments took something away from my concentration—although, looking back in hindsight, it might have been different if my mind wasn't as distracted.
I found myself concentrating on how I looked to the other students and what they were up to. Even though we're all in this together, it's difficult to not look to the person on the mat next to you and see what they're doing right that you're doing wrong or differently. One of my closest friends, who also did training with CorePower, gave me my most cherished piece of advice for this process: don't compare. And as I found myself comparing, I had to make the conscious effort to focus back on my own practice and body. What was I feeling? What could I change? What was I doing right? This self-control will also take practice. It will take some mental toughness.
The second part of class was focused on lecture. We discussed the "Yoga Class Essentials", teaching formulas, countdowns, filler words, and principles of assists. A few key points stuck with me during and after class:
- When assisting, go for safety before anything else. If a student is not aligned correctly in a way that will hurt them, those are the people you go to first. Only after these adjustments are made should a teacher assist the students into deeper, "juicer" stretches.
- Your practice will change everyday.
- If a student is modifying deeper into their own practice and darting away from your class and they're safe and not distracting others, let them; Expanding your practice and trying new things is what it's all about.
- Most people start going to yoga for the physical need, whether that be to stretch or strengthen. They stay because of a connection, and you never know if someone is going through something that could be effecting their practice. Open your heart to their's.
Finally, I want to acknowledge something someone at another studio once told me while I was exploring my options for teacher training.
In short, a well-respected teacher told me that his way of teaching yoga is different from the rest—the "right" way of teaching. He said when he corrects, he brings awareness to the body as a whole rather than specific limbs or muscles. This message has been on my mind over the past few months at CorePower, but after only two days of behind-the-scenes lessons, I believe that correction can come in a multitude of ways. While the body as a whole is extremely important, paying attention to single areas at a time can also be rewarding.
It might be my instructors, or maybe it's CorePower as a whole, but I have never once felt that there is a "right" way of teaching or correcting. Everyone is different in their own practice and should have the freedom to practice what best suits them.
As a teacher, I hope to remember this, and outside of the studio, I want to try to be more accepting. There are so many different opinions and ways of living, but that doesn't mean they're wrong.