Yoga Teacher Training: Align and Adapt
It is seldom that we are handed not only the opportunity, but the tools for change. There is much time spent lamenting about how “if only I were X, I would be happy.” We pine for something we believe we should want, but may be unsure of how to reach this elusive destination. Worse yet, we may know exactly how to get there, but the road is too difficult, or too steep, or too cumbersome. In waiting around for all of this change to happen to us, we cheat ourselves of these opportunities that are sitting right before us, waiting to be noticed. And when we begin to engage with these tools– whatever agents or actions spur the shift we are seeking– what we do see is often so imperceptible, it seems nothing has really changed at all. Yet this is where the creation happens: not in the grand, Hollywood-esque montage of self-betterment, but in the tiny micro-shifts that show up as a new perspective or a refreshed attitude; greater patience and kinder words.
When I sat in my first day of yoga teacher training at the Authentic Yoga studio I’d been in so many times before as a student, I’d prepared very little for the mental and emotional shifts to come. I thought I’d learn the dialogue to teach classes, gain some strength in the postures I’d committed to memory, and magically gain some of that enriched cosmic enlightenment that is standard issue in becoming a yoga teacher. Namaste.
Beginning to dig into the ethical practices of yoga, the deeper connections to our own self, and the way we position ourselves in the world, I thought I was immune to the emotional “work” that was being asked of me; that I could simply look at the things in my life that were painful, irritating or anxiety-inducing with a neutral, analytical gaze and not be affected. The hard part of yoga is the poses, after all… right? Not quite so.
As the weeks went on, I found that I was coming back to these things that I deemed “inconsequential.” If I wasn’t bothered by them, why couldn’t I stop thinking about them? Well, I thought a little haughtily, maybe it’s time to finally do something about them, then. And lo and behold, when these things- these angsts and emotions and obsessive thoughts- are met with the calm and grounding nature of yoga practice, they seem to dissolve like salt hitting a snowy sidewalk. Once they have been faced and acknowledged, they can be returned to and looked at with new eyes– is that not the foundation laid for change?
Early on in the training, Amanda, the owner of Authentic and a true modern day guru in leggings and a messy bun, said coyly, “You can either do something, or you can do nothing.” Could it be as simple as that: one of two options? Here, I began to recognize that the “something” didn’t necessarily need to be a grand gesture, or a complete 180-degree turn in life. Just start small. Do something.
This is the ethos of yoga teacher training. Much like the asanas, we work from the ground up and build on what we know. We incorporate the small bits of information and tiny “ah-ha” moments into our practice and our everyday life. The changes are so small, they hardly seem like they’re happening at all. Until one day, not long after these “non-changes” have been occurring, you notice you’ve moved from where you started.
We can be the best, most loving, understanding, patient people on our yoga mats. There is grace for everyone involved (me) and there are only kind words and thoughts communicated (also: to me). But how can we take these attitudes and virtues off the mat and into the world with us? This training has, in itself, completely altered what I thought would be the result of several weeks spent learning how to be a yoga teacher. It has shifted my perspective in the way I walk through my day and the interactions I have. It has also unpacked quite a lot of emotional boxes that have been precariously stacked for a long time, and now it’s time to go through my things and decide what I want to keep, and what I would like to throw out.
Even for those whose main objective is not to teach a yoga class, training invites us to take the time to sit with ourselves– something most of us do not carve out time for– to take stock of the good things we appreciate about ourselves, and the less desirable qualities we wish to change. What came to pass from this experience was much greater than what I’d initially signed up for- and it is still only the beginning.
Claire is one of the new teachers at Authentic Yoga. You can catch a class with her at either studio location, teaching Power, Series, and our Sculpt class. Check out our schedule here.