Monday, 17 September 2012

"Man is a creature of habits. When you do yoga, you unlearn your habits."   Bharat Thakur

For all my fears of headstands and complicated balances and all that tricky/fancy/party-trick stuff I haven’t mastered yet, I’m beginning to realise that doing yoga teacher training is mostly about going back to basics and relearning everything from scratch.  The simplest positions and exercises literally have me exhausted. In today’s Hatha class, I thought my shoulders were going to fuse into a solid mass of twisted metal after a ten minute Joint Freeing series, during which I humbly accepted that the smallest rotation and extension of your shoulders, wrists, elbows and fingers can be agonising when you’re holding your arms up in front of you for an extended period of time.  Before class on Friday night, one of our teachers told us, “Work at about 70%.  You’ve got to have fuel left in the tank.”  After nearly falling asleep in Savasana for the second day in a row (which I NEVER do), I’m beginning to see the wisdom in this suggestion! 

In my new found spirit of acceptance of the Om, I enjoyed today’s variation on the theme with what our teacher referred to as a Bumble Bee Om.  Basically, you’re just humming, but it has the same effect, warming your body with vibrations and connecting the yogis in the room. 

Today’s class focused on Uttanasana, or Forward Bending pose.  This is where you hinge forward at the waist with a flat back and try to bring your belly and chest against your upper thighs.  The ultimate goal is to have straight legs, but most of us have to bend our knees for quite a while until we find the flexibility. 

When I thought about being a yoga teacher, I never considered how challenging it would be to actually describe a pose or a sequence of poses to students.  Working with a partner today, teaching each other how to do this pose, we both struggled.  Our teacher had mentioned previously that sometimes doing the pose yourself helps you to find the words to teach others, so we both gave this a go, verbalising the instructions whilst moving through the asana.  I’m starting to realise why so many young teachers I’ve taken a class with don’t get off their own mat a lot… and I’m feeling a lot more forgiving toward them now.

40 Days of Sat Kriya

One of the requirements for passing teacher training is a 40 day meditation.  The chosen style is a Kundalini meditation called Sat Kriya which, in short, means sitting on your feet, putting your arms above your head with your hands together in prayer, and repeating the mantra Sat Nam for 11 minutes.  I never realised you could fit so much torture into 11 minutes.  That’s right, I didn’t mistype.  Torture.  Keeping your arms above your head for this long seems interminable.  And now I’m supposed to do this every day for 40 days.  This was NOT in the brochure! 

Sat Kriya is supposed to balance the energies of the lower chakras.  According to my training manual, the practice tones the nervous system, calms the body and mind and stimulates and strengthens the entire nervous system.  Really?  I felt anything but calm throughout the entire process.

For the first half of the meditation, my mind was wondering everywhere.  I have a lot going on at the moment, so I was thinking about finding somewhere to live, how I was going to get from one house viewing to another, what I was going to have for dinner, how much money I had in the bank, blah blah blah etc.  Then, about half way through, just as I was beginning to wonder how far we were into this 11 minute session, my shoulders really, really began to ache.  The ache spread into my upper and lower back, and eventually even my hands and fingers which were gripping together to ensure I didn’t drop my arms.  Ouch.  Naturally, for the rest of the meditation, all I could think about was how to adjust my body to try to diminish my discomfort.  And I have to do this another 39 times?!  Will it get easier?  Will I discover divine enlightenment?  I bloody well hope so. 

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