My 200hour Yoga Teacher Journey
What attracted me to yoga a couple of years ago were the graceful fluid movements of vinyasa. What ignited my passion for yoga are teachers whose confident instructions lead me through the practice, silencing persistent internal chatter. I craved for one blissful hour – torturous at times, those who have done Hot and Core classes would understand – to surrender on the yoga mat.
When yoga became a permanent fixture in my life, I became curious about practising it intelligently and sharing it with other people. I thought about it for a year, before deciding to embark on the teacher-training journey, discovering Hatha Ashtanga in the process.
Since childhood, ceasing to move either physically or emotionally meant ceasing to exist. On top of that I have a natural tendency to dislike patterns and repetitiveness. The mind is a strange creature full of contradictions.
Over the past 6 weeks I have come to enjoy the rigidness of daily Ashtanga practice, its philosophy, the strength and flexibility it cultivates. The yoga poses – the asanas – are just one of eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga. To Patanjali, the creator of Ashtanga, modern science puts his work “Yoga Sutras” at 400CE, Yoga is the Mastery of the Activities of the Mind Field (Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodhah, Sanskrit). Attempting to understand this phrase is both liberating and centring. It seems to me yoga exists in duality – it pushes and it pulls, it strengths and stretches, it confuses and brings clarity.
For almost 10 years I have lived with a lower back injury, a disk issue in the lumbar spine. It affects me daily, how I sleep, how I walk, it limits what activities I can do. Often when practising yoga pre teacher training with Tirisula I would feel broken with pain in my lower back. Under the watchful eye of Tirisula yoga guides I discovered for the first time what it meant to move mindfully. Learning the Alignment has been a game changer. At first it was daunting when I realised that I had been doing none of the poses correctly. Everything – standing poses (Mountain, Tadasana), forward bending (Uttanasana), downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – it all needed work. All these asanas and many more done incorrectly were making my injury worse. The danger for healthy individuals is that asanas done without proper alignment could create injury overtime. Yoga is a powerful tool and should be practised with prudence.
Ashtanga yoga, amongst other things, stands for NON-VIOLENCE (AHIMSA, Sanskrit). Starting with non-violence to yourself, in your practice and your life. If I had a penny for how many times I have gritted my teeth or pushed or jerked or swore under my breath when an asana would be out of my reach, hello Camel… I now practise, with baby steps, to be kind to myself. Patanjali says poses should feel comfortable, Sthira Sukham Asanam, Sanskrit. If not – retreat, modify, progress with caution, safety always comes first.
Another pillar of Ashtanga is cultivating CONTENTMENT (SANTOSHA, Sanskrit) on and off the mat. This very important piece of the puzzle had also been missing from my pre Tirisula yoga practice. I am now actively working on it in every pose, listening to my body and channelling the mind. Whether I succeed or fail both are ok with me, it is all part of the process.