Jamie Fink Photography

RYT-200 BLOG

Neutrality

This weekend, the weight of becoming a yoga teacher came down heavy. We just hit our halfway mark yesterday, and I'm starting to get nervous. I've wanted this for so long that I've put teacher training on a pedestal without stopping to think what leading a group of people was actually going to be like.

I've been writing for the past four weeks about "staying present" and letting reality flow through and around my thoughts. But, this past week, I haven't been living by my own mantras. I'm starting to question whether I'll be a good teacher. I'm wondering if I'll have the mental toughness to power through my own anxieties before leading a group to conquer their own.

At the beginning of teacher training, everyone told us that we'd get to a point somewhere down the line that we'd feel overwhelmed. This could be that point, or this could just be me being, well, me. Either way, I'm trying to acknowledge my fears and my imbalances to bring myself back to neutral. I'm facing the current moment without running away. I'm doubting myself, but I'm hopeful that, as a result of my fear-facing, I'll come out of this better than before.

When we accept what is in this very moment, without pushing or pulling, when there is no running after or running away, we find in our practice a level of deep acceptance and peace.
— Michael Stone, The Inner Tradition of Yoga

I like to imagine my emotions like a wave length. When I'm feeling more anxious or elated, the peaks and valleys are farther apart. When I'm able to bring myself back to neutral, the peaks and valleys are closer to the center line. The goal is to get as neutral as possible and not let extraneous circumstances cause a large jump or decline in my waves. 

Higher instability (left) vs. closer to neutrality (right)

Higher instability (left) vs. closer to neutrality (right)

This psychological view is accompanied by a physiological one. We learned about anatomy this weekend, and while I am aware that six hours of an anatomy lesson is only the very tip of the iceberg, it was still a useful lesson.

We learned how to keep the body neutral while teaching and taking class. When the body is neutral, still, and breathing, our psychological symptoms can be relieved. Psychological symptoms are not separate from the rest of our life, but a part of it. 

So, how do we achieve neutrality? How can I minimize my reactions to better serve myself and those around me?

  1. Alignment. When standing at attention in Samasthiti, you're standing completely grounded into the Earth. Your major joints (ankles, knees, hips, shoulders) are all aligned. This alignment should be maintained throughout practice as well as in everyday life. When you're physically aligned, your mental alignment can more easily show through.
  2. Breathe. Incorporating the breath is so important to bring yourself back. First, paying attention to your breathing can distract you from whatever is worrying you. But it can also wake up the heart and activate the parasympathetic nervous system to calm the mind and body.
  3. The "I" mentality. This is a difficult concept for me to comprehend. How does one completely eliminate the thought of "I, me, mine"? For me, blogging helps. Even though I'm blogging about my own journey and speaking in terms of "I, me, mine", each reflection piece leads me to the conclusion that I am so insignificant. This isn't to say that I don't mean a lot to my friends or family, but that we are all one with the Earth. In the grand scheme, the Earth and its inhabitants are all from and will all go to the same place. This bigger-picture outlook helps minimize the "I" mentality. 
Feel more settled and calm by spending a few minutes focused on your breathing. A 3-minute Mindful Breathing mindfulness meditation created by Stop, Breathe & Think.

With all of this in mind, if you were going to take one thing away from this post, I encourage you to look inwards at your own wavelength. What does it look like, how do you feel, and can it be improved? If so, try to physically align yourself and breathe. After all, psychological symptoms are attempts to balance the sheaths of the mind-body process. Pay attention to them.