Our instructors, David and Todd, refer to yoga teacher training as a “process”. We are all growing, developing and learning so much about ourselves, our pasts, our futures, our emotions and our bodies. One of the most challenging days of the intensive is hip opener day. They warned us on Monday that it would be a long, hard and emotional day and to make sure we got enough rest. Well, a good night’s sleep is just not enough these days to recover. I woke up Tuesday morning tired and groggy but made my way to the studio.
We began the day like any other, reciting the yoga sutras. From there we moved in to this amazing meditation practice. We meditated on our bones, David guided us through the body reciting all of the names of the bones (this ties in with the anatomy we are required to learn). I never quite understood meditation but I kind of got it Tuesday. I was not sleeping, but I was not conscious and aware. I was just in this place, feeling completely still and without thought. It was really quite amazing.
Before the practice began, Todd and David walked around with stacks of tissues and placed them all over the studio. When I say stacks, I am not kidding. They put about 10 boxes of tissues all over the room. As we started the practice David reminded us that we often hold our emotions in our hips and that as we release the tight muscles, some emotions may come to the surface for us. He urged us to let them flow naturally.
Todd began the practice seated with a hip opener…the music was soft and soothing but had a movement to it that just made you want to flow. We flowed through our standing poses, in and out of challenging and new balance poses, through hip openers I’ve never seen before. The practice was hard for me as I struggle with tight hips. We then transitioned to the floor and began to open the right hip. We moved through the poses and as we did I started to feel the waves of emotion flowing through me.
My emotions grew stronger and stronger and I thought I might cry. It wasn’t something I could not control, the emotion was just releasing inside of me. And then David said this, “This pose is for all you control freaks with the tight asses” and I lost it. I literally lost it. The tears just came streaming down my face and they wouldn’t stop. In and out of pose after pose, the tears just flowed and flowed. I grabbed the closest box of tissues and used my fair share. I could hear the sound of others crying and knew I wasn’t alone. We practiced for 2 hours that day, and for more than half I flowed in and out of the poses just crying and crying. You know what? I didn’t feel bad and wasn’t embarrassed about it. I was surrounded by 35 people who are on this journey with me, who all want to grow and develop just as much as me. When David encouraged us to let our emotions go, I cried harder. It was freeing, it was a huge release.
As the practice came to a close we moved in to Savasana. I caught my breath but the tears continued to roll down my cheeks. As I laid on the mat I couldn’t help but feel how lose the back of my hips were (they are ALWAYS so tight), how my hips felt almost 2 inches wider, and how much space I felt in my body. It felt amazing. It was freeing really.
When the class closed and we moved to a break, I was immediately surrounded by the girls I have gotten to know so well in just 5 short days. Each were there with a hug, and kind words.
We then moved in to our pranayama practice. On Tuesday this was a 40 minute journey of our breath. It included 5 different breathing exercises with multiple rounds each, all done seated on the mat with our eyes close. This too was fascinating, it was like diving in to an ocean with nothing to focus on but breath. We closed the practice with the laughing breath. The room of 35 people erupted in full-out laughter for minutes and minutes. When the laughter died down, some one would laugh so hard that everyone joined back in. It was so moving, I felt like a kid again. When the laughter died down a calm overcame the room. Some moved in to tears and sadness and others found peace. For me it was pure happiness, joy and peace. It was blissful. I felt like I was authentically me.
After all of this, I spoke with David our instructor. We talked about what kind of emotions came up for me and what they meant. I’m very much type A. I feel the need to live up to some level of perfection. The perfect job, the perfect home, the perfect partner, the perfect daughter, the perfect runner and athlete. Within this perfection I find intense stress with everyday things. I constantly feel the need to have every minute packed from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed. I feel guilty watching tv and doing nothing yet it is all I ever want to do. I hate being late, so sitting in traffic stresses me out beyond belief. At night I am always folding laundry, sorting through the mail, unloading the dishwasher. I do this even when I am tired and just want to relax. Before I leave for work in the morning I feel the need to make sure our house is immaculate. I stress when I miss a run or a workout because it may mean that I don’t accomplish my goal. Being this person is exhausting. For me, so much of this journey of freedom in yoga teacher training is freeing myself from this idea of perfection. Embracing the chaos of life and choosing time for myself, or time with Michael instead of a clean home. It’s about knowing that my friends and family will all still be there for me despite whether or not I have successful career or clean home. It’s about realizing that my happiness lies not in being “perfect” but in being myself, being authentic, and being real.
This journey is just beginning for me and it’s already been amazing. I wish I could tell you all every single thing that moves me throughout the day but there is just not enough time to get it all down. Our instructors, David and Todd, are amazing. To see them work with each and every one of us and break down our walls, help us to find peace, clarity and happiness is simply incredible. With out a doubt, the next 6 months will change my life in ways I never knew possible. And in the end, I’ll be able to share all this every time I step on a mat to teach, that makes me smile more than you know.