Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Real Journey Has Begun

Hi friends, I wrote this when we finished up and just got around to posting it. I haven't been very good about this blog but hopefully now that the "real journey" has begun, I 'll be more on top of it. 

Yoga Teacher Training:

I’m not sure what I expected when I signed up for yoga teacher training. I imagine it was something along the lines of chanting and deep discussions about alignment. I expected that I would be vastly unprepared and severely lacking in significant knowledge. I had no idea how anyone could take me from uninformed yoga student to capable yoga teacher in 15 days. I’m pretty sure I remember wondering if my yoga teacher trainer (Philip Urso) had any idea of what he was getting himself into. Yet somehow, as I write this I am excited and empowered to teach. I can’t wait to get in front of a class and give them an experience. A real, invigorating experience. The 15 days in which I was immersed in teacher training with 8 amazing, yet equally bewildered people, were truly transformative and while it seems like what happened was magic, it was truly the simplest thing in the world. 
Our training started out with a discussion of the basic elements of unconditional love. What it means to truly love someone without conditions. Not a single one. I would venture to say that none of us in training had ever thought about it. Sure, we imagined our parents loved us unconditionally, we loved our families unconditionally, but as we would soon discover, this was not the case. We put subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) expectations on those we love, we hold grudges, we demand love. Philip shook our world a bit when he said “You can’t love someone unless they love you back? When you demand love you are taking their greatest gift and making it a requirement.” What a powerful way to think about the way we relate to others. How our expectations of them put them in a cage and warp our relationships. From the moment we walked into training, Philip was teaching us about love. 

Philip is a co-founder of Live Love Teach (check them out, they’re amazing). Live Love Teach has 12 principles that they use to train their teachers, the leading principle being “Teach from love”. We quickly learned the difference between a teacher teaching from love and someone teaching from fear. All that we learned boiled down to these two options-love or fear. You can choose to be in front of your class and be afraid, you can be worried that you’re not good enough, that you don’t know enough, that you’ll mess up the sequence. You can hide behind excessive alignment, esoteric spirituality and a word for word script, OR you can trust that you are good enough, you do know enough and your passion will allow you to teach something that you love. Your love for yoga and  your students will allow you (if you truly trust it) to deliver a kick-ass class. 

Sure, we learned sequence, how to adjust people, history, anatomy, alignment, the sutras etc. but within each of these lessons was the ultimate lesson of love. Perhaps the most effective exercise we did in our 15 days was Byron Katie’s 4 questions. For those of you that haven’t read her books, if you do so, she just might change your life. Without getting too in-depth as to what she’s about, Katie has an exercise that helps you to see the lies your ego tells you. She helps you to see how your ego is constantly isolating you from others, making you right and them wrong, making you feel superior or even inferior. She helps you to forgive yourself and others. The effect is immediate and enlightening. Your heart gets light, your eyes open and your breath flows a bit easier. There is possibility. The world seems a touch more lovely. I am sure if you asked anyone in my training they would say that some of the most beautiful moments they had ever witnessed happened when they saw someone forgive. The physical change, the energetic change, is truly amazing. Through this work we became closer than most people are with their best friends. We looked our fears in the face and allowed ourselves to be achingly vulnerable. The love and support that we gave each other has given us the strength to continue this vulnerability in our everyday lives. We helped each other chose love and we found understanding in even some of the darkest of places.  This is what has truly made us yoga teachers. 

The ability to sequence is an excellent skill, knowing proper alignment is incredibly important, being able to speak intelligently on the history of yoga and styles is necessary, but none of these things are effective without the ability to teach from love. In addition to teach from love, Live Love Teach has a variety of principles that come together to create a fantastic vinyasa class that is challenging and accessible. They empower their teachers to deliver energetic classes and really, if you get the first principle, they all come together. Sort of like the sutras, if you get satya and ahimsa....the rest will all fall into place. 
Teach from love. What a better way to be. Turns out teaching yoga IS yoga. Who would’ve thought?