International Yoga Day was a couple of days ago and I couldn’t think of a better way to re-launch this blog, than by sharing my experiences from the last 5 months with you all.
I began Yoga Teacher Training at YogaWorks on January 19th, my husband’s birthday. It’s so poetic because he’s been more supportive than I ever imagined I needed him to be. I spent so many hours away from our family either in training, classes, doing homework or studying and although he seemed more tired than the usual “parent tired”, he never complained nor expressed frustration. He’s my rock and my world.
I was also lucky enough to have met 13 strong and powerful women from all walks of life. I had the honor to practice along side them and listen to their stories of love, loss, struggles, vulnerability, hopes and dreams. Together we encouraged and supported one another, and I will forever be filled with gratitude that the universe brought us together.
On the very first day, we each had to share out loud what we wanted to get out of the training. Some of us wanted to teach, some just wanted an excuse to do what we love, and some just wanted to learn more. My purpose was simple, I wanted to deepen my practice and learn correct alignment. Throughout the 15 years of practicing different styles of yoga and in many studios, I had received so many conflicting instructions that I simply wanted to learn the “right” way to practice yoga.
To my surprise, I received that and so much more. I was able to find a path towards inner peace that I had been struggling to reach as a stay at home. I’m far from being the steady and grounded person I want to be, but I now have the tools and awareness to get back on track, when I lose my way. I’m sure any parent out there can agree that remaining calm and patient, while genuinely appreciating even the most difficult moments feels impossible at times.
About halfway through the training we started to dive deeper into the teachings of the father of yoga, Patanjali, throughs his Yoga Sutras. This book is essentially the bible of yoga and to oversimplify it, they are step by step instructions to reach pure bliss or merge with a higher power. If you know me well, you know I’m not a religious person at all. Although the Sutras talk about a God or higher power, this can easily be interpreted to mean simply a strong and powerful energy of good, and therefore, I believe this message can resonate with anyone who strives to be a better person. There is so much wisdom in the Yoga Sutras and so much more I have yet to discover. But in essence to not bore you to death, I would love to highlight two that have helped me tremendously:
Sutra 1.33– By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.
This sutra is also known as the “4 Locks and 4 Keys”. As this name implies, Patanjali seeks to give us the tools (keys) to deal with everyday interactions with people (locks). I mean, who hasn’t felt annoyed at another person’s happiness when you’re having a bad day? Or reciprocated the bad attitude that we receive from others?
I’ve personally interpreted this Sutra to mean that we are in control of the thoughts/behaviors that we put out in world. It is our choice how we react to those around us, regardless if we’re in the right or the wrong. This perspective has freed me from the responsibility of changing anyone’s mind about me, or the way they handle themselves in challenging situations. I believe that our behavior is a direct reflection of what is going on in our minds. So, if someone is unhappy, mean, or rude, that is their baggage to deal with, not mine. I must still be understanding, loving and patient because that is the energy I choose to carry in my heart and what I choose to put out in the world.
Sutra 2.33- When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is Pratipaksa bhavana.
This seems so simple, but so hard to put in practice. Like everything I learned during the training, I practiced at home with my family. Anytime I noticed that my mind was taking me to a dark place, I would immediately shift to the opposite train of thought. For example, if I felt resentful towards my husband while he was traveling for work, because he didn’t have to be home dealing with the chaos. I’d remind myself of how fortunate I am that I get to be home with the kids because of how hard he works to support our family. Of course, this didn’t change the chaos happening around me, but it did make it more bearable.
Don’t feel discouraged if you try this frequently and still find yourself having negative thoughts regularly. You are training your brain to work differently (yes, you are literally rewiring it, its called Neuroplasticity–google it!)– this takes time but it is possible to get to a point where the positive thought is the first your brain will go to.
I never anticipated the internal transformation this training provided me. The physical practice of yoga is what drew me to yoga, but the benefits of practicing yoga off the mat have changed me to the core.
I encourage anyone thinking about taking a teacher training to go for it! Do your homework and select a training that best aligns with your interests and goals. Some studios have a mild focus on the philosophical aspects, which I think is a big miss. Some studios have a greater emphasis on taking classes on your own vs hours in training. I personally preferred the additional in-classroom training with our instructors.
I’d love to answer any questions you might have about the subject. Feel free to email me directly or leave a comment below.
❤️Be Healthy Mami