One year ago, I signed up for Shanti Yoga School’s 200 hour yoga certification program through Pure Body Pilates in the small town of Hailey, Idaho (this town is much bigger than where I live in the summer; population 8,000 compared to 63). I thought, ‘200 hours is no big deal! I can finish this in three or four months’. Typical me! Underestimating a commitment and biting off more that I can chew (last week I put a cup of oatmeal into a 36 ounce container).
When I signed up I didn’t realize exactly what to expect or what I would learn. I had only been to a handful of yoga classes in my life and had watched only one 45 minute video featuring Rodney Yee. Although I wasn’t experienced in the practice of yoga, I was extremely curious and in search of information. Living in the central mountains of Idaho isn’t exactly conducive for a search of Eastern philosophy or, as I thought at the time, in finding one’s inner self. Oh was I wrong.
After the first weekend of intense training, I could see the tip of the iceberg with which I was colliding. With a smile on my face, I kept on course, ‘Straight ahead,’ I thought, ‘This is exactly where I need to be’.
Much to my surprise, I found yoga to be more than the poses. It was a way to feel your body, connect it to your mind, and clear out the unnecessary pain, fear, and hate. Not only is yoga a place to discuss these conceptual ideas, but a temple to practice the different techniques which enable these connections.
Yoga enables one to unwind from habitual tendencies. Putting the body into a new position is similar to putting oneself into new situations. The body first tries the usual patterns to escape the uncomfortable in the form of fidgeting, thinking (past, future, self judgement) or numbing. As attention is continuously pulled to the breath, the body and mind stop resisting. The body and mind relax and awaken to the present moment and find themselves in the same place at the same time. This is where bliss lives!
Finding the connection or here-ness in each pose, in each moment (bad or good), is yoga. Enabling the body and mind to be in the same place, with ease and awareness, is where happiness can be found.
At the yoga training, here-ness wasn’t the only thing I found. I found inquisitive people looking for strategies, information, and answers to their own questions. Questions I didn’t know how to ask, but some, I found, I had known the answers. As we learned, a community formed. Teaching and learning became my renewed hobby. Each weekend intensive became a place to share ideas, find inspiration, and experience new layers of myself I never knew I had.
The training brought with it new opportunities, allowing me to teach and connect with others in a way I had never before. I started teaching a yoga class to co-workers (which I am starting again in January 2016 as a graduation present to myself) and began a yoga class at a local gym. These classes bring the body/mind connection to people with busy lives, looking to find answers to their own questions.
As I sit, 12 months later, with the last weekend intensive on the schedule, I find myself happier it took the extra eight months to finish the 200 hour training. Interwoven into every facet of life, yoga will be with me for a long time. I know I will have more questions, but I am better equipped to answer them with a mat in hand and a community of yogis behind me.
To all who have taught me, Thank you.