“I am a Yoga Teacher!”

That statement: “I am a Yoga Teacher!” was my affirmation after my last practice teach at Kripalu. Last Thursday night, I taught my first “real life” class and made that statement the gospel truth!

My beautiful first class! I can see their Prana!

Weeee!

Now that I’ve had a week days to digest that experience, I have decided that yes, I am a yoga teacher. I am one, indeed.

The class I taught was not perfect… far from it. I can only hope that it was relaxing (as indicated in the series title “Relax and Unwind) and a relatively good experience for my students. Yet, good or bad, I know that I taught it with love and good intentions and that I really care for the well-being and comfort of my students. There is room for improvement… a lot of it. But everyone starts somewhere and I am SO happy that I have started.
Over the weekend I cleaned out my wallet and came across a “30 before 30′s List” I had started many, many months ago. I had only listed 3 things:

1. Go to South America
2. Become a certified yoga instructor
3. …something good, I can’t find the list now…

That was it. That was all I had written. I wrote #2 long before I had submitted my Kripalu application. Long before I had researched upcoming YTT’s and long before I thought I was actually ready. I would say I am doing pretty well for being 24 years old and already crossing one big “To do” off my list. I would say I am right where I need to be.

South America… I’m coming for ya.

I was notified this morning that I will be teaching 3 yoga classes up at the University I attend. Jai!
I will be teaching a Thursday night class next month at Main Street Yoga. Jai!
I have a thriving personal practice. Jai!

There is work to be done. Jai Bhagwan!

My favorite

First Class Preparations, Thoughts, and Feelings

the process.

Today is the day. Today I begin my 4 week series, “Relax and Unwind”. Coming up to this point I thought I would be a lot more nervous. Now that I sit down and quietly plan my class at the coffee shop, I realize there is nothing to fear. I know this. I know it as a student, as a private practitioner, and now, as a teacher. All that is left is to simply do it.

As I thumbed through “Love Poems From God” (Daniel Ladinsky) looking for those perfect opening words, I came across this gem from Rumi:

The Chance of Humming

A
man
standing on two logs in a river
might do all right floating with the current
while humming in the
now.

Though
if one log is tied to a camel,
who is also heading south along the bank–at the same pace–
all could till be well
with the
world

unless the camel
thinks he forgot something, and
abruptly turns upstream,
then

uh-oh.

Most minds
do not live in the present
and can stick to a reasonable plan; most minds abruptly turn
and undermine the

chance

of

humming.

I am excited to teach my class tonight. I am excited to guide a soft and gentle class and help bring people into the present moment, so they have the chance to breath and hum.

I thought I would be nervous. I thought I would be afraid. I thought I would be so many things, but today I am me. A yoga teacher preparing to teach. I let that camel run away abruptly… uh-oh. But for now, it is back on track.

Jai!

My Post Kripalu YTT Ramblings

the view from Kripalu, as seen through the rock art.

I have been back from my YTT training for a week. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to my teacher, my yogi friends and family, and other members of my community about parts of my journey. July proved to be an intense month. Kripalu was more than just a training experience; it was a doorway into myself, a doorway I have seldom opened. In many ways, talking about Kripalu is difficult for me. I am reminded of a place where I felt so at home in myself, yet I am also reminded of the transformative breakthroughs I had, many of which were not always pretty. It was emotional, to say the least. Many tears were shed, many “ah-ha!” moments were had, and the amount of loved poured into every interaction, movement, word, and thought was astounding.

my beautiful and wonderful teacher, Jovinna.

Can you imagine a place where everyone is present for you? Where every one wants you to succeed and do your
very best? Where mistakes are made and relished because you learn, rather than run, from them? I didn’t know what to think at first. It was hard to get used to constant love and kindness, since so often I have lived with a negative monkey-mind telling me all about my mistakes and short-comings. Coming to recognize this constant defeatist mind-chatter was my first step towards building a relationship with myself. I came to find that to be a loving, caring human being, developing a love of the self is vital in my ability to love others fully. This was (and is) my journey.

But by the end of the program I felt so wrapped in love that going back into the “real world” was something I felt ready for. I feel confident in myself and confident in my abilities to love and be loved. To give and to receive. Teaching yoga is going to be my special way of giving and I want so much to do this with all myself. Holding back my caring and loving spirit is something I hope is forever in my past, though I know, realistically, that old habits die hard and that little monkey-mind is still trying to sneak in comments when it can. Not taking them personally is new to me, and not always easy. Focusing on love and realizing that I am not perfect is helpful in this endeavor.

While I could write about my daily schedule and particular events that happened during my YTT, I don’t feel that those necessarily capture the experience I had at Kripalu. I wish I could write about every person I met, but there were 63 students in my group, not counting teachers, assistants, and guests I sat with at lunch and dinner. To sum it up, I couldn’t imagine a more caring and giving group then the one I had. They were all immensely important in every Shiva-tastic transformation I had. My experience would be different if any one of them hadn’t been there. I love my Sangha and send them all the metta I have in me (which is a lot!).

Kripalu was kind of like taking pictures…. there are some places that pictures are not needed because you know you could never forget the place or the moment, and the work to take the camera out, set up the shot would only distract from the ability to be in and enjoy the moment. Kripalu is that for me. The picture I just couldn’t take because I could never, ever forget.

my fortune.

What I’m Reading

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I love summertime! Give me some warm sunshine, soft grass, an iced tea, and a good book and I am in heaven. Having this little “college break” is perfect for catching up with the things that I want to do, like whiling away the hours reading literature of my own choosing. Not that being a philosophy student is all that taxing,given the fact that most of what I am required to read I would want to read anyways. It’s mostly the general education crap that gets in my way; but not anymore! Not in the summertime!

That’s why I am excited to write about a couple of books I am currently finishing up: The Heart & the Fist by Eric Greitens and Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait by Father Leo Maasburg.

The Heart & the Fist

Initially I was not excited to listen to this audiobook, but my sister was really adamant that I give it a try so I went ahead and bought it. Given that my time in the military was less that satisfactory (even somewhat psychologically detrimental) it has been difficult to discuss or even think about that part of my life. Any reminder has just been a means to suppress what happened. Outside of general discussion about my job, I don’t go into specifics. So to listen to a long book about a man who goes from humanitarian work to becoming a Navy SEAL? Um, what? I was glad I did give this book a try though. Not only did I find it incredibly uplifting and inspiring, I really enjoyed the sections about his military training. While it did force me to think about my own experiences, it did so in a way that was not soaked in self-pity and hate, but rather it made me proud that I gave something a try, something that is greater than myself. While it didn’t work out so well in the end (for me), I am proud and inspired by people who make service their life… service in any context, from humanitarian aid to the military. I realized while listening to this book that service does not just mean signing up for the military, but can be as simple as loving and caring for those in your own community, much less in other parts of the world. I think Eric Greitens is an incredible human being. He has a non-profit organization, The Mission Continues, that helps veterans integrate back into civilian life and their local communities by becoming leaders and helpers at the local level. He also gave the commencement address at Tuft’s this year. I found it realistic, inspirational, and simplistically direct… something I believe this generation needs. You can read it here.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait

This book was a life changer… seriously. I don’t know why I decided to read a book about Mother Teresa, but it certainly came into my life at the right time. Her philosophy is so simplistically genius and full of common sense and love that it is near impossible to disagree with. Her ability to love is tremendous, and her ability to not take “no” for an answer is even most so. For a little nun, she sure did make a huge and loud statement during her lifetime (and beyond). It was also nice to read this along with The Heart and the Fist because after getting inspired to serve in some way (thanks to Greitens), I was able to learn about the Missionaries of Charity, the organization founded by Mother Teresa that I would love to volunteer for one day. I can’t really say enough about this book. For 177 pages, it certainly speaks volumes. I highly recommend it.

As for my yoga, my home practice has been getting some much needed attention, but it could always use more. YTT is coming up in a few weeks (July 1!)! I am nervous/excited/scared/happy/ecstatic… etc. :)

Monday 5 Yoga Loves

1. 30 Days of Yoga! : Today marks the last day of the 30 day yoga challenge. I think fulfilling a self-promise, like going to a yoga class everyday for 30 days, is truly one of the most rewarding things you can do. It is easy to feel good when you fulfill someone else’s needs, but when you give yourself something it seems to resonate deeper. We are always doing things for other people, for companies, for children, for spouses, for significant others… ah! the list goes on forever. When do we take time for ourselves and our own needs? The truth… not often enough. That’s why this type of challenge is so good. It addresses physical, emotional, spiritual needs that are all too often not met. Much like running a marathon, attempting a triathlon, hiking a mountain, … anything! Streaks rock and this one was absolutely fantastic!

2. MindBodyGreen: this website. Seriously, how I did not know about it before hand is kind of bonkers. Now that I am privy to this information, I’m completely obsessed. If you like it, too, follow them on Facebook! I love their updates!

3. Yogini Straight Up… Gone Gluten Free!: Kristin, from the blog Yogini Straight Up, recently went gluten-free. This is something I really admire, because I think carbohydrates (especially in the form of breads, pastas, etc.) are WAY over pushed in our society. I do not have celiacs disease, but the way it is spreading in this country leads me to believe that gluten is not all it’s cracked up to be. Also, after my 21 day Cleanse, I noticed that breads and wheat sat really heavy in stomach and caused a lot of digestive hysteria really quickly. I am not ready to go gluten-free, but I am interested in learning more about a gluten-free diet, so I found this blog timely and interesting. I even went ahead and picked up a loaf of Udi’s Sandwich Bread (made with Tapioca Flour). I think lessening my gluten intake is the first step in feeling healthy.

4. Plank: I saw this video on The Reluctant Yogi’s page and died. Seriously, it is crazy inspirational. Also inspirational… these muscles…. I intend to use this video as inspiration to build these up a little more so I can attempt an actual arm balance.

me attempting a head stand… to no avail. but I did discover these muscles in the attempt… WIN! Photo Courtesy of Miss Julie Sherwood 

 

5. Yoga Family: I think the phrase says it all, but after tonight’s practice and the end-of-the-challenge yoga party, I am so crazy thankful for the friends I have made through yoga. Never have I felt more inspired to do what I love and at the same time so incredibly uplifted by and entire community to go out and do it. I love them all! Namaste my friends :)