We’ve got just one more day to the end of the 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training and I thought to reflect a little bit about the experience. For starters, I signed up – mostly because I wanted to take a more holistic approach to learn about yoga. I always enjoyed the practice and wanted to find something deeper, anatomically and philosophically. Then…on a very superficial level, I thought – why not! 10 weeks of yoga boot camp sounds AWESOME. But jokes aside, two things will really stick with me.
One: Everyday, I am A Beginner
Over the weeks, small shifts occurred, physically and more importantly, mentally. While I would never say I feel “easy” or “comfortable” in a pose, I feel like I’m slowly learning to work more consciously with my breath and mentally quieten an internal struggle. Part of this has been about listening to my body, using a prop when I need it (yes, putting aside that ego) and realising very profoundly, as Master Sree says, that everyday, I am a beginner. Yes, do I feel like I should be stronger or more stable (jeez, I signed up for a teacher training course)? Yes, but also – it’s been 10 weeks of coming to a better understanding of where I am in my practice, in mindfulness and asana. Every week, every practise I learn something more about me, about a pose, how to awaken a muscle or about my course-mates’ approach to yoga.
If anything, the course has given me so much information and understanding about where I can grow and how I can take that step. Though, in the first couple of weeks I was quite confused about how the philosophy, physical practice and anatomy classes would “work” together, but they slowly did!
Two: Yoga is On and Off the Mat
Yoga is for everyday and always – it is a way of living and approaching life. In one of our first lessons on yoga, I learnt that the word yoga derives from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to yoke or bind, and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline. It is a practice of mind and body, though we often engage in practising the asana – the third limb of yoga. While it is tempting to be envious of jaw-dropping, mind-blowing postures that are achieved by size-zero persons on Instagram, it’s important to remember that the practice of asana is for purification of the body and mind. It prepares one for a lengthy meditation practice too. A commitment to practising the Eight Limbs of Yoga (as set by the Sage Patanjali) can put someone on the path to living an ethical, meaningful and purposeful life.
There’s a lot that we can read about the 8 Limbs, but focusing (right now) on 2 of the five yamas, (abstinences) has been a good guide for me, particularly in ahimsa and aparigraha.
Ahimsa: Can translate as “absence of injury” or “non-harmfulness” – a practice that seems common-sense, but can be hard to achieve in body and mind. This includes, not harbouring unkind or injurious thoughts against others. To do this, we can cultivate empathy, choosing to practise kindness in deed and thought.
Aparigraha: Often translates as ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment’. This yama encourages us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right. This includes, not being jealous of other’s physical practice – and can be applied to so many situations off the mat, too!
So – regardless of what happens tomorrow in that exam (I am scared, to be honest), it’s been a super journey. Many thanks also to the amazing, encouraging classmates who have been a great source of support. You know who you are 😀 XOXO Everyday, I am a Beginner.