I am in power vinyasa yoga teacher training. I have three more weekends, a seva (community service) project, and dvd/critique to go in order to complete my 200-hour yoga-alliance approved training. I know power vinyasa yoga gets some flak, often categorized with things like super-sized xyz or extreme sports/makeovers – so let me break it down:
Power: Acting on your own behalf
Vinyasa: Putting things in a certain order
Yoga: Skill in action
Overall, I’ve been experiencing vinyasa off the mat. My second week of teacher training, I likened the experience of moving into a beautiful new apartment after months of anticipation. In this new space, surrounded by boxes without labels, I realize not everything is going to fit. The bookshelf that fit perfectly in the old place and held so many books is too wide, the kitchen does not have room for all the fancy appliances, and half of what I’ve been carrying and carefully packaging isn’t necessary. Writing yay is one of those metaphorical boxes that made it to the “to be unpacked” pile, but was low on the priority list.
It is intense and life-changing. Intense introspection like I have never experienced – getting behind my thoughts and really looking honestly at the ways I have chosen to present myself and live my life. I am emotionally and physically exhausted by the end of each weekend I have training. My homework is equally intense, designed to train my mind to look at life through different lenses (a.k.a. yamas and niyamas). I have come to truly appreciate the word “weary” and understand why this particular word (as opposed to “tired” or “exhausted”) is used in hymns and poems. I am pushed to tap into my inner power (see above definition) and learn how to speak powerfully from a place of stillness. Over and over, I ask myself the exhilarating yet frightening questions: “How did I get here, to this point in my life?” and “Where to next?”
Waltzing on the edge of beauty and terror, embracing the complexities of simply being human, I have often thought about one of my favorite Rilke passages:
Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?
and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.
My celebration of being human is not inspired by Michael Franti. (I feel it is important to make this distinction, despite fear of being excommunicated from the yoga community.) For me, it is inspired by Beethoven (Dresden playing the 7th to be exact), Walt Whitman, Bach, Patanjali, Kabir, the unconditional love of my dog, listening to Madeline Albright talk about diplomacy and Jonah Lehrer talk about the mind, watching the changing leaves, listening to falling rain, slowing down on the highway to see birds in the wetlands, pausing to feel the rumble of trains rattle the windows of my little house as many other have since 1916, smiling at strangers. With the community of training, I have felt the supportive experience of breathing in time with 31 people and been able to laugh, cry, succeed, and fail without judgment in front of others.
My celebration of being human is inspired by slowing down and living namaste. I want to always really mean it when I say namaste and bring it to each moment: recognizing that we are all the same by seeing the same fears, hopes, and joys in others that I feel so sharply and deeply.
I realize I love pranayama (breath work) and want to go deeper outside of teacher training. I remind myself to remind myself that each breath, each moment, is a gift and that it is my choice to accept or ignore these gifts. (No, there is not a typo in that sentence.)
It has been painful in many ways. One of my friend’s mother told her that she is feeling pain because part of her is dying and part of her is being born – both are painful processes. Relationships and perspectives change. My body aches after Sundays of 7:45 a.m. ashtanga (which my inner I-don’t-wanna calls asstanga when it is roused to get out of bed at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday and is subsequently chided for being so childish) followed by back-to-back practice teaching/practicing. But, as one of the seven axioms we learn in our training reminds us: Fear and Pain are Life’s Greatest Teachers.
In short, yoga teacher training is one mind@#$% after another in the process of metamorphosis. I am grateful, humble, and inspired.