New Beginnings

Ah! I love this idea of new beginnings; of starting with a clean canvas and an array of paints, brushes and ideas at my disposal. Today is the first day of classes for my last semester as an undergraduate. Having started this journey back in 2006 in California, this (clearly) hasn’t been a direct path, but it’s interesting to notice that the end is near. All the twists and turns have led towards a point, and even though the path will continue (so long as I am inhaling and exhaling), it’s nice to put a little marker in the earth and say “Okay, that much of my journey is complete.” Kind of like a birthday or an anniversary.

This morning I taught a yoga class at the University. The first class. Another beginning. I wasn’t really expecting anyone to come, but it was a nice surprise to see 6 beautiful faces out on their mats, early before classes. The class itself was energizing yet soft. Many of the girls had never taken a yoga class before and I was both honored and excited to be part of their beginning. I was nervous, too. Even though I have taught a few classes at the studio where I have grown up in my yoga practice over the past couple of years, switching to a new environment filled with totally new faces… I was out of my comfort zone. Yet, drawing inspiration from Danny Arguetty’s book, Nourishing the TeacherI found it so helpful in tuning into what it means to start something new. I used his section on mornings (“Graceful Beginnings”) and found the words of Byrd Baylor so heart-warming:

“Some people say there is a new sun every day, that it begins its life at dawn and lives for one day only. They say you have to welcome it. You have to make the sun happy. You have to make a good day for it. Yoga have to make good world for it to live its on-day life in. And the way to start, they say, is just by looking east at dawn. When they look east tomorrow, you can, too. Your song will be an offering — and you’ll be one more person in one more place at one more time in the world saying hello to the sun, letting it know you are there. If the sky turns a color sky it never was before, just watch it. That’s part of the magic. That’s the way to start a day.”

Mornings are like those beautiful beginnings. Everyday we start with a blank canvas, even if we don’t realize it. Waking up early, embracing the day so that we can embrace a semester… ah! It really does mean something to start with the right intention.

Namaste, and may this day bring a new sense of joy and hope to your life.

some of what took place at morning yoga. :)

 

My Current Read: Linchpin

The last semester of my undergraduate career is literally one day away. What does this mean for me? Less time to read the things I like to read… which is unfortunate because I have a stack of books sitting next to me right now, and I am halfway through several of them. Because I can never wait till the end of a book to recommend it to everyone who will listen (or read…) here is one that must be discussed:

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (by Seth Godin)

I realize this book has been out for two years now, but I am behind the times. Catching up, I am so grateful my yoga teacher passed this along to me. She uses it as her business model and with good reason. For a newly minted yoga teacher just starting out on this crazy journey of self promotion and teaching, the insight of Godin and his appeal to the inner artist has helped me in realizing my strengths as a human and a yoga teacher. Though I have been supported every step of the way by my YTT Sangha and my town community, it does, eventually, take self acknowledgment to really believe that I am infinite, eternal and whole and not merely a cog in a machine. Being conscious of this important factor and owning the hell out of it so it reaches out to others is much of what Godin speaks on. This is art. This is more than working 9 to 5. It is innovating, leading, caring, listening, creating… etc. I want to live that kind of life, the kind which is more than work and bills and taxes and worry. I want to live in a world where I love and listen and  care and create and change things! Linchpin is both a guide and a call to arms for the endeavor. I have enjoyed every page (and I hope to enjoy every other page that is left!). This read is a definite part of my book club.

“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.