Teacher Training #2

I didn’t write anything for my first day of teacher training.  That was all the way back in October.  At that time, I was open and optimistic to all the changes in my life.  I approached yoga teacher training like anything else – determined and trepidatious.  Fortunately, everyone’s willingness to share in this journey provided the reassurance I so desperately needed.  That was 7 Sundays ago.

Tomorrow is class number two.  We have assigned reading in the Bhagavad Gita.  This little book packs a powerful punch.  It’s generalized enough to apply to everyone and yet written so that Krishna seems to speak directly to me.  The philosophies presented are simple and logical.  It’s the perfect thing to read while my old life crumbles away like weathered stucco.  Stillness has been my meditative focus recently and this book seems to speak the same language.  The Gita addresses the macro-struggles humanity has wrestled with for centuries and simultaneously gives practical advice on how to deal with everyday stress.

In Chapter 2 of Easwaran’s translation, the first question Arjuna has for Krishna is whether there really is any deeper meaning to life.  Is it even worth worrying about?  Naturally the answer is yes, for what is life without any meaning, right?  Not exactly.  It is possible to live without seeking self-awareness and many people do that all the time.  However, some people feel the pull toward something undefinable.  Something unexplainable.  For me, the draw to nurture and study our selves and the world we live in is overwhelming.  There’s a voice inside always asking why and how.  It’s not something I can ignore, so I seek answers in yoga.  I believe that we are all the same and acknowledging our fundamental similarities is vital to living a self-aware life.

The other two keys to my sanity are moderation and detachment.  I’m all about moderation.  When I’m not sure what to do I just moderate.  This is true whether I’m hungry, lustful, sad, celebratory, etc.  Moderation of my emotions, actions, and thoughts works when I’m in doubt.  “Yoga is evenness of mind.” (Easwaran, 85)  That statement is soothing balm to the chapped chaos of my current life.  I try to live in the present as much as possible.  Since I love my life this is usually a good thing.  But it is how we react in times of stress that reveal our true nature.

I believe the other part of finding stillness is in detachment.  Detachment, but not disassociation, is a key concept for me.  When under stress, I’m able to disassociate with my problems until I have some kind of solution.  I essentially forget about things.  It’s my brain’s way of getting me to stop obsessing over things I can’t control.  It’s effective, but not ideal.  I seek the wisdom of detachment.  I want to stay connected to the world – good and bad – as I deal with the fluctuations of life and my thoughts.  Krishna assures Arjuna this is possible.  He says, “Even as the tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will.” (2:58)  That’s the kind of detachment I need to learn.  Instead of running away, I need to calmly observe so I can wade through human existence and stay grounded to who I am.

Those are my thoughts so far.

I also have two assigned poses to teach tomorrow – Dhanurasana and Ustrasana.  Aka bow pose and camel pose.  I like the two poses together because they look like the same shape.  When you look at how they are done you find out how completely different the actions of each pose are.  In one, you are pulling yourself up off the ground so that only your abdomen supports your body.  In the other you are extending your spine while supporting weight with your legs.  I have more to learn, obviously, but this isn’t a bad start.

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