Month: August 2016

Yoga Teacher training: the invaluable lessons yogis learn

Yoga Teacher Training: Module 1: Taking the Seat of a Teacher

Yoga Teacher training: the invaluable lessons yogis learnWhat a whirlwind week (7 straight days)!  Our first module of yoga teacher training was about Taking the Seat of a Teacher.  Our teacher, Emily, chose the theme trust, as in trusting yourself and your intuition as well as trusting others.  We had daily classes on asana, meditation, anatomy, the art of voice and methodology/practicum.  In asana, I felt good about my strength and postures, which I wasn’t expecting.  I’d worried that I might not really be ready for the training so I’d made myself practice hard over the last 6 months, especially the last one or two.  I certainly wasn’t the strongest, most flexible or most experienced, but I wasn’t on the bottom of the spectrum either.  No one ever commented on comparisons, but I felt good about my abilities.  We learned about different parts of our bodies, like our lungs, legs, arms, spine and throat—how and where to hold these parts.  It was really influential for my practice.  I feel like I have a better chance of getting the postures right on my own now with proper alignment and care for my body.  We also had several nice relaxing gentle asana practices in the afternoons.  It’s a type of yoga I’m not as familiar with so that was cool for me.  I like slower paced classes and think I might enjoy working with these healing poses.

In anatomy, we learned a bit about how the body works- different ways that the bones can move in relation to each other, the structure of the muscles and how they balance each other, different kinds of joints and how they connect to the body, possible injuries and pregnancy-related modifications.  It was a packed section of the module.  It was beneficial for my poses for sure to think about where the shapes are really coming from.

Methodology/practicum was cool too.  We had our first-ever wild thing in the lotus studio—we read each other instructions for sun salutations.  It was interesting to work on our timing and tone.  I felt pretty good about mine.  Later we also had to direct our friends into some other poses, this time without a script.  I didn’t give much alignment direction once the shapes were set, but I was pleased with my cues for coming into the pose.  I need to learn more about instructing alignment.

It was hard for me as an kindergarten teacher because I thought it was fun and everyone else was so serious at first- I smiled at them but they were too focused to smile back.  This was also true in our 90 minute asana self-practice.  Everyone looked worried, but for me that’s another Tuesday evening.  I didn’t have a studio to go to in Mandalay, Myanmar, where I was living, so self-practice was my norm.  I have a lot of work to do, but it’s different work from many of the other yogis. I need to learn how to align my body and how to talk about alignment.  Also, I need my wrist to heal.  I hurt it trying to do hand stands before the course.   I am uncomfortable in inversions.  Also, I am looking forward to some spiritual growth.

In art of voice, we learned lots of beautiful chants.  We also made noises, whatever noises we felt which I loved.  What a release!  We talked about speaking from a place of love and learned about different obstacles to voice like mood and distance.

In meditation, I feel like I found some clarity about my life and the current state of my mental health.  I learned that my heart is full of love, overflowing in fact.  On day 1 I cried thinking of love.  I was overwhelmed thinking about the life I left behind in Myanmar.  I knew I would miss my boyfriend, but I didn’t count on missing the roof where I meditated at dusk, bicycling in the rice paddies, my motorbike, the local market, the orphans I taught each week.  I guessed I would miss the orphans when I cried at our goodbye party, but I didn’t know I would miss them so much.  My sense of purpose was gone a bit without my definable tasks and familiar weekly accomplishments.  My sister pointed out to me that I was still harboring some anger as well about certain aspects of the job.  I thought I threw the pieces of my old life over my shoulder, but they hadn’t quite landed.  They were hovering just behind me.  My sister said I seemed unsettled.

I also had a deep chat with one of the teachers who I now consider my spiritual guru, Mei Lai. I asked her about living a life of service.  She said I must act from a place of love and ask the universe to use me as a vessel to do its good will.  She says creativity and growth are a cycle- of birth, thriving, and death.  I felt I was still dying from my past life in Myanmar.  Next I will have to wait to be composted into better soil for my next mission.  Mei Lai did say that she thinks I’m on the right path though for my future, based on the way things seem to be going.

One of my other favorite things we learned in the first module was the concept of kula—a community of like-minded people.  It’s amazing because everyone at the training was in a similar state of transition and dissolve.  Everyone had learning and growing and thinking to do and it was awesome how everyone connected and supports each other.

I also had a good talk with Emily about the things I left behind and poured a flood of tears out of my face over my boyfriend and the orphans.  Those orphans are some of the most joyous people I know in spite of their circumstances.  I think we related to each other well over the difficulty of long distance love.

Bess has also been great.  She is more down to earth and relate-able for yoga guidance and sharing her experiences with the business and passion of owning a yoga studio.  She helped me with some stretches for my hurt wrist.

Rachel is beyond passionate.  She loves anatomy more than I would have guessed anyone could.  I couldn’t wait to go to my appointment with her and let her fix me.  Emily said she could help me with my energy, but I want to ask her about my terrible posture and my wrists too.  Anatomy got a bit dense for me though- I had trouble staying focused at the end.

Agni ceremony (Fire Ceremony)The other amazing thing that we had in the first module was the fire (agni) ceremony. We threw rice into the fire at the end of every stanza of a chant, on the word “swa ha.”  We put a note to the gods for help and guidance into the fire too.  It was really cool to be there for the chanting and the cultural perspective.  The ceremony wasn’t as spiritual as we hoped it could be, but it was still a good experience to throw our pasts we want to get rid of into the fire and to express our hopes there too.

I felt a little bit overwhelmed by all of it.  So much happened every day.  It was exhausting emotionally and energetically.  There was so much to think about.  It was hard for me to concentrate for the whole day (7:30-6).  But also I was hopeful for my future and how I could learn more about myself and the way I work in this course.  I want to become a better yogi and a better me.

Stay tuned for more on what I learned in Yoga Teacher Training module 2…

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!]


My path to Yoga: Blog about finding asana, yoga and self

My Path to Yoga: what lead me to start doing yoga and how yoga changed me

My path to Yoga: Blog about finding asana, yoga and selfI’ve been doing yoga since college in Arkansas, back in 2005.  My friend Merry invited me to go with her for PE credit and I figured, “why not?”  In a way, I feel like when she asked me to go to yoga, it was the universe speaking to me through her.   We were a little out of place, because the class was mostly adults from the local community who had clearly been before.  We laughed hard as we tried to figure it all out on our mats on the smooth wooden floor of the fluorescent-lit gym.  Everything was so awkward and perplexing, but it all felt good and it was fun.  We were shushed a lot for being so rowdy, but we calmed our giggles week by week and stretched a bit deeper week by week too.

The next year when I transferred to the University of Delaware, I joined the yoga club.  It met two or three times a week and I was there for every session.  I dragged my new friends along with me too.  Soon I had a small crew of yogis.  The girls who taught the classes seemed well organized.  They knew so many different moves (which I now know are called asanas) and always knew how I could push myself harder at just the same moment  that I knew I could go deeper.  They made an announcement at one class, saying they were looking for new teachers.  My insides lurched for the opportunity, but I didn’t believe in myself.  I didn’t think I knew enough about the “moves” and I couldn’t imagine being bold enough to stand in front of everyone and simultaneously show and tell them what to do.  So I let the suggestion wash over me.  The same thing happened when I heard my neighbor had done her yoga teacher training course.  I thought, “that should be me” but I also let that idea float away.

After I graduated with my degree in business in the epicenter of worst slump of the recession, yoga and I lost touch for a bit.  I lost touch with more than one of my passions as I sat on the couch and applied fruitlessly to every job I could find related to my new degree.  After 3 months, I got an email that said “teach English in Korea” and I applied on a whim.  I was there a month later.  That year in Korea and two years in China slipped by before I found myself on a yoga mat again in Istanbul, Turkey, my next home in 2013.  My friend Kat found an ad for a cheap month of hot yoga and invited me along, which I felt I couldn’t resist.  We were in a nice apartment-turned studio facing the Marmara Sea with sleek lines and Buddhas for décor.  A lean Turkish lady with a smooth voice but a clipped accent guided us through the asanas.  We bent and twisted and leaned and grew in a way that felt so familiar and so natural and so necessary.  I didn’t realize how much I’d missed yoga.

The next year, I joined a fancy gym in my new neighborhood.  Sometimes I went just for the steamy hammam in the locker room, but mostly I went for the classes, including yoga.  I was thrilled to have regular access.  After every class, I came out feeling lighter, more limber, calmer, clearer and truly, happier.  Another studio in my new neighborhood had a deal so Kat suggested we join.  We were in a dim basement with a low ceiling for another month of hot yoga- we went almost every day to sweat it out and stretch it out.  I found I was more flexible in the heat even when I felt like I could pass out.  I got lots of positive encouragement from the instructors there who learned to recognize us.  I would have gone more after the deal, but couldn’t afford it.  So I was back to my regular gym a couple of times a week, but I wanted more.

dharamsala

In the Summer of 2014, I visited India on a volunteering trip and on a free day, found a poster for yoga classes.  I went to the studio which turned out to be teacher training center.  One of the trainees led the class.  I was the only non-trainee to show up (in a while it seemed).  They made training seem so do-able.  I remember looking at the Himalayas out the window upside-down doing bridge.  In that moment, I knew I was right where I should be.  Everything felt right.

For my next job, I moved to a little city in Myanmar where everything was covered in a thin layer of dust.  They had colorful local markets and quaint bamboo huts, cows in the middle of the road, big smiles around every corner, gold stupas reaching for the sky and gorgeous rice fields stretching to the foot of the mountains.  But they didn’t have a yoga studio.  I was more than a little bit disappointed, but I perused the small shops and found a mat.  A new friend, Jenn, turned me onto a pod cast with short sessions and I also started to try to guide myself.  I knew lots of asanas.  I knew which ones could morph into other similar poses.  I could breath energy into my body with sun salutations too.

That next Summer, in 2015, I visited Bali, a land studded with yoga studios.  I spent weeks dropping my boyfriend off at the beach to surf and motorbiking over to yoga before picking him back up for lunch.  It was heavenly.  I got into a new flow and found a new need for yoga.  One particular class really struck a chord with me in Ubud- hatha with Emily, as recommended to me by another yogi, Ali, who I’d met at the beach.  I felt really compelled by Emily and wished I had time for more classes.

Back in Myanmar, when the internet worked, I’d sometimes go on Facebook.  I noticed a trend on my feed- lots of my gal pals were doing yoga and a few were even teaching it.  This observation made me consider doing the training myself.  I sent lots of messages asking how they got into it and what suggestions they had.  I felt inspired by their responses and started to look into courses with my radar mostly on India.  My sister Natalie and I were talking and she said she’d love to do the training too.  She mentioned Bali and I said I would only do it there if it was with Emily.  She googled Emily and said, “Guess we’re going to Bali this Summer!  There’s a training session in July!”

I worked hard on preparing myself, mind, body, and spirit for devoting myself to yoga.  I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn’t been practicing in the last couple of years as much as some of my fellow future instructors surely had.  Part of me felt like maybe I should wait, but I told myself, “really, there’s no time like the present; now or never.”  I threw myself into something I didn’t know if I was ready for, but that was not new to me.

In a way, I feel like I’ve been pulled here by forces beyond me.  Like a trail I couldn’t see stretching ahead over mountain slopes.  Friends along the way have pointed me in the right direction.  Their voices were my guru or my guide, sending me ever further along the path toward yoga.

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!]


Katia Yoga blog: asana, meditation, yoga theory, yoga philosophy, looking within, and so much more. Join me!

Welcome to Katia Yoga: Mindfulness. Yoga. Wellness. Health. Blog. Shop.

Hi there!  I’m Katia and I’m a yogi.  learning some new yoga techniquesI started practicing asana over 10 years ago.  I loved moving my body through the different shapes and felt better after yoga classes, but it wasn’t quite whole.  More recently, I’ve been learning about the other 7 limbs of yoga and about other yoga-related concepts.  It’s amazing how the other aspects make yoga a more complete lifestyle and make me more whole as a yogi and person.

I wanted to learn even more and share my fun so I joined a Yoga Teacher Training course in July 2016.  From there, I taught yoga in Nicaragua and Myanmar, but there was too much to squeeze into each hour-long class.  So I created this yoga blog to share the things I learn about yoga and being a yogi along the way.  I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

I blog about the deeper side of yoga and how to make yoga a real part of everyday life for yogis who want to deepen their practice and expand their knowledge through body, mind and soul.  These yogis want to keep growing, learning and becoming more and more their own wonderful selves.