One of the questions I’m often asked is, “how has teacher training changed your body?”. I definitely feel as if my body has changed. I often thought I understood my body as an athlete prior to teacher training, I could push through pain and exhaustion and learned again and again how to improve my form or balance to become a better athlete. Teacher training though taught me that I had so much more to learn. Now I feel as if I am able to control my body and utilize the strength in my muscles to get in to deeper backbends and more challenging arm balances. While I still have my fears (um hello headstands and handstand) I’m slowly overcoming them and starting to trust in my body and strength more.
My running has improved thanks to yoga too. My hips feel more open and my core stronger so each step feels more powerful. I don’t feel as if I struggle with the pain in my hips as much as I once did and I definitely no longer struggle with ITBS. I feel more balanced when I’m out running. I haven’t had to wear my brace to help with runners knee in almost a year and I’ve never once thought I needed it!
My posture is much different. I stand taller with my shoulders back and open more, my hips are more open on my front side and my tail is tucked. It feels so good and natural. As a taller woman, I’m 5’9″ I was always slouching and rolling my shoulders forward in an effort to look shorter. It would make my back and neck hurt and was often really uncomfortable. Today, I feel so much better and more confident standing taller.
I could talk all day about the subtle changes in my body but I think it’s best if I just show you. Back in August we had to choose 3 challenges poses. David photographed us in each one and then in January we came back and photographed them again so we could see how much we’ve changed.
Challenge pose #1
I choose wheel for my first challenge pose. I really wanted to go from wheel to standing but knew I had a long way to go.
You can see I have really deepened my backbend. I’ve worked to open my shoulders so I can straighten my arms completely and I’ve been working to open the front of my hips and contracting my glutes so I can continue to walk my feet closer to my hands. With the support of a teacher to help guide me I can come up to standing and drop back to wheel again. I’m still deepening my backbend to be able to come into this on my own. I’m impressed with how dar I’ve come!
Challenge Pose #2
Handstand was my second challenge pose. I’ve always wanted to get into this pose but struggled with getting upside down.
Back in August I couldn’t even kick up to a wall. Now I am able to kick up to the wall and better understand how to control my body, which muscles to contract, how to hold my arms and shoulders to support my weight and I am slowly starting to get over my fear of being upside down. I’ll be honest, I HATE kicking up to a wall but I’m learning and perhaps someday I’ll get into handstand without the wall.
Challenge Post #3
Forearm stand. I always think people who can do this in the middle of a yoga class look ridiculously awesome and I wanted to be one of them. Forearm stand scares me less than handstand but I’m still learning.
For me, what is most noticeable in this pose is the approach. You can tell from the photos I’ve learned to engage my entire body in this pose and the chaos from the first pose is not visible in the second pose. When I look at these two photos I see calmness and strength in the second photo and chaos and lack of trust in the first photo. To me, that transformation is huge!
Like many things in life, I’ve learned we have all our strengths. For me, I really wanted my strength to be going upside down or backbends but in the last 6 months I’ve learned that my strength is really in arm balances! I have the strength and flexibility to twist up my body and lift it off the ground and have so much fun doing it! Arm balances are definitely my favorite now. Next week I’m taking a workshop on arm balances and hope to learn some new balances and share photos!
Yoga is a journey and I’m impressed with how far I’ve come in the last 6 months. I can only imagine how my practice will evolve and change in the future!