Yoga Training: Week 2

Number of times I practiced: 3, aside from training. Number of times I wanted to practice: 0.

That pretty much sums up week 2! It was one of those weeks where I discovered endless excuses to skip yoga--I was too busy at work, I didn't feel well, I didn't get enough sleep, etc.--but managed to push past that feeling of "Ugh, I don't wannaaaaa." Basically every time one of my excuses popped up, I was like, "Hello Mr. Excuse. I see you. Now move out of the way."

Monday was the worst; after a long day at the office, I came home and literally got back into bed with a book. Sometimes you just have to do that on a Monday, you know? 10 minutes before yoga class started, I somehow got out of the cozy covers to put on clothes and gave myself the "IT'S ONE BLOCK AWAY, JUST FLIPPING WALK THERE ALREADY, GOD" pep talk. And it turned out to be an excellent, challenging class, full of chaturangas in a row and handstands galore. The instructor, Michelle, has the sweetest voice of all time which is in direct contrast with how hard she makes her students work; I was sore the rest of the week!

Tuesday we had training and spent almost 3 hours on a few introductory poses (standing/tadasana, chaturanga, upward facing dog, etc.), breaking them down individually to get our form corrected and adjusted. It's going to make a huge difference in my personal practice, and I loved receiving some personal attention to improve my poses, but I realized that my yoga effort has only been at about 50%. (Concurrent example: when you go for a run, and really just slowly jog, and then you run with someone concerned about pace and stride and your lungs are like, Shit, this is work.) I also felt happy to see all my new friends again.

Wednesday I hit up a 6 a.m. session, which is rare for me. The nice thing about early morning yoga is that class seems to fly by because you spend the first half feeling sleepy and generally unawake; I also love getting my workout out of the way early because it sets my day off right with a little sweat and peace.

Thursday I felt sick all afternoon, so I had decided not to go in the evening. Last minute I conceded to myself that I didn't actually feel that bad, just a little lazy and tired . . . and as always, I was so glad to be there the second I walked into the studio. Friendly faces, warmth and a chance to breathe deeply and leave the rest of the world to the side. That instructor, Vince, really pushed our class to think about what lifts our spirits and how to dig deep when trying new things. And he played Avicii's "Wake Me Up" which is my workout JAM these days, so I loved that.

Friday I ran around like a crazy person at work, so deemed it a rest day and spent the evening enjoying a much-needed dinner and movie date, followed by an early bedtime.

Saturday began early, since I had to skip over to the farmer's market to drop something off at our sponsored tent. As much as I love sleeping in on the weekends, I enjoyed being out and about in the brisk fall air with all the other early birds, and snagged some delicious coffee and a La Mie pastry to bring home before the long day ahead. I'm glad I opted for that little moment of peace and quiet before training, because it felt LONG. We discussed teaching yoga (tips, tricks, general principles and how to give/receive feedback), broke down more poses and learned more about the Yoga Sutra.

Short version: Yoga Sutra is the guidebook of classical yoga, and it was supposedly written by a sage named Patanjali more than 1,700 years ago. Comprised of 195 sutras (or words of wisdom), it also outlines ashtanga, the eight-limbed path for how to live a meaningful life of purpose. The eight limbs include:*

1. Yamas: restraints or internal observances of behavior, such as non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation and non-hoarding 2. Niyamas: actions or external disciplines, such as purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and devotion 3. Asanas: physical postures, such as the actual poses within a yoga class 4. Pranayama: breath control 5. Pratyahara: sensory control 6. Dharana: mental focus 7. Dhyana: meditation 8. Samadhi: state of union or sameness

Lots to digest and learn on those subjects!

Then we experienced our first foray into actually teaching sequences to our partners. Teaching. Is. Humbling. I consider myself pretty good at explaining things to people, and I taught gymnastics for so many years that I anticipated teaching yoga coming somewhat easily to me. Nope. As someone in class put it, teaching yoga is like a game of Whack-a-Mole--as soon as you ask someone to focus on one part of their body, something else pops up that requires direction, and then something else. That became clear really fast. When my partner guided me, I easily could anticipate what she might say next and realized how some of her directions were confusing or unhelpful. And then when it was my turn to guide her, I quickly discovered how damn hard it is to tell someone how to move their body. Good teachers are concise, direct and action-based, and as a newbie, it was so easy to overdo and overthink it. Instead of "Exhale, move your right foot through heart's center to low lunge," it became "Step to low lunge . . .  oh wait, Exhale first . . . now step through, no, in between your hands." And we're supposed to do this for 5-20 students, all at the same time? Plus music??

I know that we will all get so much better as the weeks go on, but again, it was super humbling. Just that small slice of teaching completely changes how I will experience yoga classes going forward, now that I understand how thoughtful and intentional each instructor is being about the movements of the students.

*Power Life Yoga © 2013.