What 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 —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.
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…
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