The Yoga teacher certification program is finally underway.
It is quite the time-consuming endeavor, not to mention physically ambitious. We have class two days a week (Wed and Sun) for three hours each time.
We are charged with:
1) writing a gratitude journal entry every day; we are encouraged to focus on the things for which we are grateful, but are free to write on anything we desire
2) meditating twice daily and keeping a record of our sessions; it is recommended to meditate twenty minutes per session, although we are required to sit in meditation for as long and as often as we are able
3) taking at least one yogic meal per day, as well as keeping a record of this meal; the guidelines for having a yogic meal are as follows: remain seated; no conversation while chewing; while eating, reduce any external distractions -- no reading, watching TV, listening to music, etc.; wait until food is completely chewed and swallowed before picking up your next bite; refrain from putting more than two handfuls of food on your plate at any one time, finish eating your portions and wait 3-5 minutes before taking more food on your plate; and finally, wait until food is completed digested (2-6 hours) before taking you next meal
4) meeting with our teacher-training partner/group once per week for 2-3 to practice performing and leading asanas
5) observing one yoga class per week
6) practicing the 5 Wonderful Precepts: 1) non-violence (vegetarianism), 2) non-stealing and non-oppression (volunteerism), 3) sexual integrity (don't be a hoe), 4) loving speech and deep listening (no gossip, don't be a Debbie Downer), & 5) mindful consumption (no caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs)
7) practicing daily
We also have quite a bit of homework.
The daily practices are intense. They begin at 6:15 in the morning, when the sun has yet to rise and many are still asleep and waiting for the day to begin. They are held, currently, in the Acadiana Center for the Arts on the corner of Jefferson and Vermillion, which is an incredible building. The studio is a small room off to the left. It is long and narrow, completely dark with the exception of candles interspersed along the walls and it is warm, cozy and smells of lavender. Tuesday morning when I walked in for my first practice, my immediate and visceral reaction was, "This place is like a lavender-scented womb," immediately followed by, "Oh God, I don't know if I can do this." We practice Ashtanga Yoga for an hour and twenty-five minutes and it's humbling/discouraging cause there are things that I cannot do, that the other 56 year-old teacher-in-training can. But then again, she has been practicing a lot longer than I have . . . but still. She's thirty years my senior and in much better shape. That's depressing.
At any rate, I've only practiced in the studio twice and each time, about twenty minutes into the session, I'm sweating bullets. I can do most of the poses, with the exception of a standing/balance pose, and all balance poses that require serious upper body strength like a hand- or headstand. After just two classes, though, I've never wanted to conquer a headstand so badly in my life. And before this training is said and done, I vow to do a headstand, dammit, even if it kills me. Anyway, we reach the end of the practice and I'm sweaty and rumpled but energized and somehow new and we sink into Shivasana, or "relaxation pose." And both yesterday and today, for some unknown reason, I wept a little. I suppose I'm healing.
After we "wake up" from relaxation pose, we meditate together for twenty minutes. I've learned in a short period of time that I have quite the restless, self-nullifying mind. However, this foray into the practice of meditation has been less frustrating than in the past. Now whenever my mind wanders or gets distracted, I just go back to my breath. I have to do it A LOT but it truly is that simple.
I'm sure with enough practice, I'll get better at both Yoga and meditation. But it sure is going to be a challenging, up-road battle to get there.
But hey, I love a challenge! Also, what in this world is worth doing if it's easy or if it doesn't teach you something about yourself and life?
In general, I'd say I'm feeling pretty good about 2009. How does everyone else feel about the New Year?