It’s a been about a month since I returned home from the second part of the Life of a Yogi 500 hour Teacher Training in NYC with Sri Dharma Mittra. I had full intentions of writing about my experience upon my arrival, but I left feeling a little jumbled up and needed some time to reflect on my experience.
If you recall, I left the first eight day immersion feeling sky high and ready to conquer the world, or rather the small part of the universe I currently inhabit. I paid close attention to my daily practices and did my best to weave them in with my teaching and family commitments. As we drew closer to Thanksgiving, I was feeling some trepidation about how everything was going to play out (i.e. balancing family obligations with daily practice), but in the end it great. I had to end our visit with family short in order to make my way up to NYC for the second part of the training. I was sad to leave them, but felt ready for the endeavor.
However, all that preparedness came to a screeching halt about 45 minutes in to asana practice on the first day of the training. Granted, it was a rather intense practice, but I was feeling so out of sorts that I left half way through and started crying in the bathroom. What the?!?!? My body was so heavy and foreign and I was feeling like a beginner again. I felt like my world shifted and I didn’t know which way was up. After practice I spoke with a mentor and felt better knowing that I was not the only one feeling out of sorts that day. Maybe the holidays had a greater effect on me than I’d realized?
I kept telling myself that if I made it through the first four days, I would be okay. However, the first days of the training were some of the hardest of my yoga career to date! Physically I started to feel much better about things, but my ego was literally crawling itself out of my body and demanded we leave right then and there. Clearly, I did not give in (although I thought about it a lot) as I know that when things get really tough, the good stuff starts happening, so I kept moving forward, doing the work that needed to be done and reflecting on what was coming up for me from practice. Was this some sort of ego detox I wondered? I don’t know, but I do know is that it was so hard and so demanding and I felt defeated on so many levels. At some points I felt so paralyzed by it all that I could barely move on my mat. I was unable to move, unable to do asana, unable to do anything.
Luckily, two very good friends came to visit at this mid-way point. It didn’t take much, but a hug and a friendly hello from two close outsiders of the training made my heart so happy I nearly burst. Not only that, but the amazing mentors and teachers of the LOAY program kept pulling me forward. They were always open and ready to help me through whatever was coming up, patiently listening and helping me observe the onslaught of internal messages I felt overwhelmed by at times.
Of course, Dharma is always there to remind you of what you need to hear at just the right time. Every day I listened intently to his discourse and instructions. The more my ego calmed down, the easier it was to take in and the more being there made sense. I truly felt that “everything was perfect.”
The last four days of the training were just as intense, however, less so emotionally for me. I still struggled with some asanas, but my body didn’t feel so heavy any more. I didn’t realize this until the end of the week, but I had become so strong from the inter-module homework, that I rarely felt sore and injured. Not only that but I even started moving my mat up front for practice. I think it’s best to sit close to Dharma if you can. I was coming out of my shell…finally.
On the second to last day we participated in an inversion clinic. Inversions are not my strongest, but I’m always determined to work on them. In the beginning of the workshop I started to get really anxious however, my partner was very supportive as we worked though the exercises together. In fact all of my fellow trainees were so supportive that I started having fun again as we “played” with asana instead of “working” on them.
On the final day I got up the nerve and mentioned to a mentor just how nervous inversions make me and to my surprise, he helped me out through practice for so many inversions I am now confidently practicing on my own. It only took 8 full days of training, but I finally had a breakthrough! Of course, there’s more work to be done, but I was happy I finally let go because when you do, amazing things always happen. In our final satsang I sang my heart out and felt so light and joyous. I was sad to leave, but at the same time I was ready to come home.
30 days home and I miss my sangha dearly. It was hard jumping back in to practice and the holidays made it even more difficult, but as always I am striving to do my best. I continue to have many breakthroughs and worry less about how well I do some of asana as opposed to the journey they provide me. I’m stronger and feel more grounded now than every before and continue to learn more and more about myself through this amazing practice and the teachings of dearest Dharma-ji.