Each time I get to experience something amazingly transformative I start pushing it onto all who cross my path with a crazy conviction that the particular experience is exactly what they need as well. I did it with our cruise to Alaska, with a life-changing relationship workshop my husband and I participated in, I did it with the spiritual healer I once visited, and on numerous other occasions. I wish I wasn’t in the habit of promoting things so easily, because now, when I really want people to listen, I feel my credibility is slightly weakened.
The latest and by far the most transformative journey I have ever been on (motherhood aside) was the yoga teacher training I’ve just completed. The experience of giving yourself to this practice, and opening yourself up to the knowledge, love and self-discovery that it brings about, is indescribable. That a yoga teacher training is intended for experienced yogis who want to teach is a misconception. Although I have been practicing yoga on and off for about 10 years, I hadn’t practiced for about two years before the beginning of this training. A simple forward fold would have me break a sweat. I was the antithesis of an experienced yogi. The last thing on my mind when I registered for the training was to eventually teach. I wanted to embark on this journey for my own benefit, for the benefit of reclaiming my regular practice and my long-lost me-time (after having had a baby 18 months earlier), and to appease the need to learn more about the deeper layers of yoga. I was particularly curious about breathing techniques and “shortcuts” to meditation (once a mother, you realize that at times you forget to breathe, and between a sleepless night and a chaotic day you have lost the connection with yourself). If there was any intention of teaching, it was directed towards my parents and my husband – I was hoping to gain enough skill to help them out with their physical discomfort due to bodily aches and pains from working long hours, and perhaps master a couple of techniques for stress management.
Two hundred hours and an immeasurable amount of knowledge later, I do not see myself doing anything else but sharing all that I now know about yoga. May it be through writing about it, pushing people into the direction of the nearest yoga studio, or teaching people myself.
Once a teacher, always a teacher. And at the end of this training you are a teacher. Your intention may not have been to teach, but, whether you planned for it or not, when you find yourself holding into your two hands the healing power of yoga and you understand the immensity of this power, you will want to let the world experience it. From what I hear, this is how yoga teacher training journeys usually end, and yoga teaching journeys begin.
Regardless of your intention behind the interest in a teacher training, and putting aside your perfected asana, expanded anatomy knowledge and proficient Sanskrit, here’s what will happen to you in the process:
- Self-discipline – The Mukti teacher training requires you to include a daily practice (nasal rinse, five tibetans, sun salutations, perhaps some meditation) in your routine. If you are anything like me, this will be a struggle. There were weeks when I was religious about my morning ritual, then there were weeks when I was all about sleeping in. The lesson here was about figuring out what was it that would affect my discipline and demotivate me to such an extent that I would refuse to turn my attention to my practice, understand it, do something about it, and return to a productive routine.
- Self-discovery – As much as this is a dive into the realm of yoga studies, it is a journey within yourself. The practice of yoga is so powerful and its effects can be so deep. Sooner or later, in the midst of an asana practice, or during a guided meditation, or while learning about the amazing benefits yoga can have on one’s physical and mental health, you will find yourself alone with yourself. With eyes closed, you will be looking at yourself, and you will be seeing yourself in a completely different light. Answers to questions you were not even able to yet formulate, would materialize and make sense of feelings you’ve been having, or decisions you’ve made, or situations you’re finding yourself in.
- Personal growth – It is only natural that once you get to know yourself you will all of a sudden have a much clearer mind about your favorite ways of self-sabotage and means of throwing obstacles two feet in front of yourself. You will have the courage to observe your fears and understand that they are not based in reality. They have never been and they will never be. You will have the courage to look yourself in the eye and promise yourself that you will succeed. You will have the compassion and wisdom to accept failure as part of the learning and growth process. It is guaranteed that you will experience a noticeable change at the emotional and spiritual levels.
- Friendship and community – After college, we’re making new friends at a very slow rate. It’s hard to find like-minded people who share a strong passion at work, or at an after-work happy hour. In that yoga studio, right in that circle of mats, there are a dozen other souls who are on the same journey as you. Your motives may be different, but the bottom line is you are all there because you choose to be there, because you love yoga and how yoga makes you feel, because you need some answers. Fertile ground where loving friendships will flourish.
The last homework assignment was to write a paragraph or two about our personal transformation during this training. This is what I wrote (unedited):
While my journey of self-discovery is nowhere near completed, over the past few months I have made visible progress towards knowing myself, understanding life and how we (life and I) relate to each other, accepting my limitations as an imperfect being, and trusting that while I may not be able to do everything, I am able to do something and that is… something – it will bring me one steps closer to my ultimate goal (whatever that may be). Also, huge progress in allowing myself the space to fail. Allowing myself to be challenged while the risk of failure is smirking from the corner, proved to be an enjoyable experience that always leads to success. Either to success as we know it and easily accept it, or to a lesson learned. Win-win.
This training has really been the best thing I could have offered myself. I am so grateful to have had my steps guided into the direction of The Green Yogi, and so blessed to have had my two beautiful teachers hold my hands throughout this learning and growing journey.
I trust that I have love to give and I trust that I am meant to do that through yoga.