(Warning: The following post is lengthy and frankly, a little verbose and boring…. but that is similar to how I felt on my first day of YTT, so with the intention of being totally transparent, here it goes….)
I’ve been thinking about doing my yoga teacher training since I took my first yoga class 11 years ago. There was always a reason why I couldn’t commit to a training. Sometimes it was a good reason (finances, graduate school), other times, not so much (ie: ski weekend in Vail or bachelorette party in Austin- really Lisa?).
Finally, things happened to fall into place, almost magically, that made NOW the perfect time to do YTT. My husband and I didn’t have a vacation planned (this rarely happens), we had the finances, I had the time- it felt like now or never.
That said, it was still a hard decision and commitment to make. My program consists of training Monday and Wednesday evenings, 5:45-8:30 pm, Saturdays 12:45-6:00 pm and Sundays from 8:45-12:00. In addition, we are expected to attend a minimum of two yoga classes weekly, teach four community classes, observe four classes, complete four hours of seva (community service), and complete our required readings and a “Yoga and Life” project. For the next 14 weeks.
It goes without saying that even though I had the time, I have a full time career, and making this decision was completely overwhelming. I probably wouldn’t have done it without the
push support from my husband.
So when I walked into the studio on Saturday afternoon, my stomach was in knots. I had no clue what to expect. What if I didn’t fit in? What if no one likes me? What if everyone is decked out in Lululemon or, on the flip side, tie-dye and a head full of dreadlocks? It was enough to make we want to reach for some Xanax.
As it turns out, my mind created more anxiety than was necessary. We started Day One, in a circle on our mats, with introductions. The basics- who we were, why we were there, and what we were most proud of. It was fascinating hearing about the journeys of my fellow trainees. Some have only been practicing for a year, others have been practicing for decades. Some of us don’t even want to teach when we are done with this program. Some are wanderers, some are mothers, some have lengthy lists of injuries and physical limitations. What we all have in common is a passion for yoga and the knowledge that it just makes us HAPPY- and that we want to spread that happiness to others.
After we did introductions, we reviewed our student contract and the expectations of the program, which I outlined above. I was relieved to find out that we can do our required classes at any studio- as I mentioned before, I have another studio I consider “home”, but they simply did not have a YTT program running at this time, and the training I am currently doing is highly regarded an exceptional program in the yoga community in Denver. That said, I was still concerned about not being able to practice at my “home” studio for the next few months.
My relief over this issue was quickly bypassed with fear, horror and dread at the next requirement. A cadaver lab. Yup. There’s a reason they don’t put that requirement on the website. I’m not easily freaked or grossed out, but for some reason, the idea of this just creeps me out. But it’s not until March, so I’m going to put it out of my mind and pretend it isn’t happening. Denial is a wonderful thing.
After we reviewed our requirements, we launched straight into training. Day One consisted of learning Surya Namaskar A and B (Sun Salutations for those who prefer English- like myself).
To be totally honest, I was a bit….bored…. I’ve been practicing yoga for 11 years. I know Sun Salutations inside and out. Not that I know it all, because one of the things I love about yoga is that you are constantly learning and growing. But it was pretty basic instruction followed by three hours of practicing Sun A and B with a focus on alignment, cueing and breath. I tried to be open minded and not get all “I know this already” (because let’s face it, that’s annoying). And I did learn some new cueing, but for the most part, it was basic review.
Any confidence I had, however, was quickly dashed in the last half hour of training. We learned and practiced the Sanskrit mantras that go along with the Sun Salutations. I looked in my manual. I was like “You want me to say whaaaa???”.
I sat there on my block, glancing at my manual, peeking around me to see if anyone else looked confused. Luckily our teacher had a great sense of humor because, frankly, we butchered these mantras. Our attempts at Sanskrit were followed by nervous laughter. Luckily our teacher laughed right back along with us (Ok, maybe it was at us?). I was quite relieved to see that a sense of humor was welcome!
After a few more
pathetic earnest attempts at the mantras, we closed with a brief meditation. I rolled up my mat, grabbed my coconut water and called it at day.
When I got home, naturally my husband wanted a full report. I didn’t have much to tell him other than “Eh, it was OK, we did a lot of sun salutations, so kinda basic”.
About three hours later, my shoulders and triceps reminded me that “kinda basic” doesn’t mean “easy”. So I popped a few Advil, hit the pillow and hoped they’d recover in time for Day Two.
Which, as it turned out, was my first opportunity to actually teach yoga. Gulp.