Day 8 was hot, humid and almost tropical. I can’t even begin to tell you how tired of being hot and sweaty I was but like all the other days I woke up smiling and ready to get into the studio. The practice was another back bending practice and I was excited to continue to work my body like the day before. My most significant accomplishment was going from camel to wheel. It was one of those poses that had me questioning my strength and overcoming my fears. My success from the day before definitely gave me more confidence and I found myself feeling a little more daring. I love that I’ve done so many challenging poses that I’ve only ever dreamed of doing before!
Friday was challenging because the group as a whole was feeling a bit more down and tired. We spent the remainder of the morning watching the video of us each teaching. What I found so interesting about this is everyone’s reactions. For some people it brought up past emotions, for others it brought down their confidence levels and for some it built them up. It just made me realize how we all view ourselves so differently and more times than not we view ourselves negatively. The reality is though that people’s perceptions of us are completely different, they view us for our strengths and positive traits. So I ask you to stop and think about your negative perception and consider what others may say about you. I’ll bet they think you have something amazing to offer the world.
After lunch we paired up and did evaluations with our partners as if we were teaching a private session. The goal was to be able to create a yoga practice that would help strengthen the client’s weaknesses and allow them to grow their strengths. It was hard to remember all of the tools we’ve learned and combine them in a meaningful way for the client. I loved the exercise and am guessing that I’ll probably love teaching privates, to me there is nothing better than creating an amazing yoga session that is mindful of client.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent learning how to do shoulder massages. It felt amazing to have my shoulders released and massaged after 8 days of practicing yoga. What I love about our training is that it is not about just practicing and learning yoga but also about taking care of ourselves and treating our bodies as our temples.
Friday was my birthday and to close out the day the entire group sang happy birthday to me, the yoga version of course. I felt so loved and smiled so big, it meant a lot to me and will definitely be something special I’ll always remember.
Day 9 started differently than the other days. We were led through meditation by William, he is a former monk and has been through meditation training in India and on numerous retreats including silent retreats and year-long meditation retreat. I was fascinated by this. He gave us some tips for meditation and answered many of our questions. The biggest take away for me was his tips to counting the breath so that you stay with it. You count until 8 and then repeat. Eventually you move on to just being mindful of the breath and can move on to further steps to deepen your meditation. We started with a walking meditation and focused on sound and stillness. What I found profound was how much more space I felt when I slowed down rather than when I was walking fast. As a type A who is always rushing, this hit home with me. I NEED to slow down more and experience sounds and space more than I do. We concluded the practice with a seated meditation. I really focused on my breath and felt so calm and peaceful at the end. I’ll be taking William’s classes in the future, I’m curious about meditation.
Saturday’s practice was a forward fold and felt amazing. My hips and hamstrings thanked me. Forward fold practices tend to turn the attention inward and leave you reflecting on yourself. After class we were quieter and more subdued, the change in energy was quite noticeable.
For the afternoon we worked with a body worker. We used balls to massage and release the deep tissue in our shoulders and along our spine. The work was insanely painful. Before starting I ranked the pain and discomfort between my shoulder blades to be a 1. While working on my shoulders the pain was about a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. After finishing the work on one shoulder the difference I felt between both was significantly different. I could not wait to work on the other shoulder because the difference between both was uncomfortable even. I really learned the importance of body work and massage over Days 8 and 9. Massages are something I often skip and don’t take the time to do. I view them as a special treat when in reality I should view as a piece to my over all well-being.
We closed the day by creating our mala beads. Mala beads are used in the practice of yoga to help with the counting of chants. A set typically has 108 beads due to the significance in the hindu culture. The beads allow you to focus on the sound and meaning of the chant rather than the counting or repetitions. Sitting on the floor surrounded by my fellow trainees was amazing. I loved that we closed out the intensive with the mala beads.
I’ve been wearing mine as reminder of all that I learned and to be mindful as I head back to the real world.
As I sit here and reflect back on the 9 day intensive it’s hard to put in to words how I feel. Mostly I feel intense gratitude. I’m thankful for David and Todd to give themselves to us so unconditionally, to support us as we looked deep inside ourselves and for literally taking the time to break us down and slowly build us back up and for changing the way I look at myself and the world. I’m thankful for my fellow trainees for opening themselves up so deeply and honestly to complete strangers and for trusting the process. I’m thankful for my body, for being able to withstand 9 days of yoga and take me to places I’ve never been (like wheel to standing). To say I feel don’t feel different would be a lie. I feel incredibly different. I feel stronger both physically and emotionally. I feel more confidence in my life, in my relationships and in where I am going. I feel peaceful and calm, but I suppose if everyone spent 9 days with 35 people nourishing their bodies and souls they would feel that too. When I look at the world and how I fit in, it looks a lot different. Mostly I feel like I spent 9 days reminding myself of the things Michael, my parents, my brother, and my friends always tell me; I am talented, smart, beautiful and have so much to offer the world. I shouldn’t let fear stop me from being authentically me.
Now that I’m back at work, sitting in traffic and going about my life it’s time to apply all that I have learned. It’s hard, I already feel my old habits creeping back in but I’m determined to keep working and keep growing. I’m excited that I have 6 more months with these incredible yogi’s and yogini’s, this journey has just begun. On the last day as we settled into savasana David played this song for us, the lyrics resonated with my so deeply…
May I suggest this is the best part of your life.