Ashtanga Pre-Teacher Training Week 2

I am back from the second week of training and I have to say it keeps getting better. I had quite a few new experiences this weekend and can’t wait to share them all.

Unlike Jurre who I knew before the teacher training, this was my first time taking a class with Marilou. I ran into her just before the class. She seemed to be one of those energetic people who infuse you with their energy and enthusiasm right away. I am usually quite wary of perky people who often tend to be quite pretentious but I didn’t get that feeling from Marilou. Sure enough, I was proved right once the class started. There’s a lot of seriousness hidden behind that enthusiasm. I think it’s a great quality to have as a teacher: enthusiasm inspires people and seriousness makes them believe in you.

We started off the day with a brief discussion with Marilou about our thoughts on the previous week of training. It was interesting to hear what everyone had to say about their week in retrospect and the things they realized about their practice over the week. This is one thing that I like the most about classroom experiences: learning from each other. I feel there’s so much more you learn, unknowingly, from other people’s experiences and how they apply to your own life if you think about it. It helped me reflect on how my week had been. Funnily enough, I realized that I felt more excited about doing yoga in class than I had felt about doing it at home. I think there’s something about being surrounded by people who feel the same way as you do about the practice. Everyone working towards the same goal almost like our own version of Dumbledore’s Army.

After the discussion we moved onto a few pranayama exercises and then a led class. Before the led class Marilou gave some very useful tips and exercises for learning about our bandhas. I was surprised to know that an exercise as simple as just lifting our toes while standing could make me feel what it’s like to lock the udhiyana bandha. I had always overdone it. I even knew I was over doing it but didn’t know any other way to feel the lock. With this knowledge about the bandhas we moved onto the led class. It felt more like a mysore class as Marilou was quite hands on during the practice. I also really liked how she gently nudged us all on to explore our boundaries. She could tell who was hanging onto a modified asana but had the potential to go deeper. She would adjust whenever she felt a student could do more. For those who were trying too hard, she would sweetly advise to step back. We ended up moving a little past navasana in our first class with her.

We broke for lunch exactly on time and returned for some more asana practice. This was again like the ‘adjustment clinic’ during our first week where each posture was broken down breath by breath with the correct alignment. We started where we had left off with Jurre the previous week and delved further into the sitting postures. Patrice, another teacher from the studio who I forgot to mention before was also there to assist Marilou. Patrice demonstrated the asanas while Marilou explained them in detail. Again, like the previous week we had adjustments done on us whenever we felt we did not fully understand or weren’t doing the asana correctly.

On the second day, most part of our morning was spent doing meditation. This is the longest I had sat for meditation in a while. It is funny how hard it can be to sit quietly listening to our breath for sometime. It’s a good exercise if you want to know what forever feels like *wink wink*. Jokes apart, I think given the kind of powerful practice Ashtanga yoga is, meditation and pranayama serve to complement it with slowness. More than that, I feel that given our busy lifestyle, where we don’t get even a moment alone with our own thoughts, meditation is the much needed time-out. Remember the time you wished for a refresh button? Well, this is it! I kid you not. It’s such an accessible way to get in sync with yourself.

By the way, I love these Dharma Doodles on meditation 😀

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We moved onto a the led class and did the Full Primary Series this time. Those gym freaks who say yoga is for pussies need to be put into this class and I’ll see how long they last. It was the first time I attemped the Full Series. Every muscle in my body was made to move and stretch. It was hard and many times I wanted to give up but not doing so felt great at the end. Every now and then during the class Patrice would come to help me and whisper in my ear reassuringly that I just needed to focus on my breath. It’s amazing how much that helps you get through the tougher things. I believe it’s exactly what yoga does for me in life, it helps me get through the hard parts without falling apart. I think the real challenge at the end of the day is not the physical form of yoga. It is about endurance in life and feeling strong inside. It is about what you do when you are pushed to your limit. You can either whine or complain (which i tend to do mostly) or say ok, I am here now, how can work with this difficulty without dying inside. I am not fully there yet, but I am glad that I am at least aware of it now. I think the physical aspect also helps me a lot. I haven’t been the most healthiest all my life and that weakness spilled over into a lot of other aspects of my life. The form of yoga, the physical challenges it poses has helped me overcome a lot. I guess, the body is a metaphor after all.


And since I am taking about physical challenges, guess what happened after we returned from lunch? We found out we had to do another mysore class! I was so not ready for it. We were allowed to cut the sequence short but even the short sequence felt like an Everest given the hectic morning session. I was tired and my body needed time to digest the lunch in peace. While my typical flight mode kicked in I decided to just get up and start the sequence before my brain could get a chance to fire any more negativity ammo at me. I got onto my mat and started the practice. Sure enough, every inch of my body protested while I was going through the asanas. At every step I felt like stopping but kept telling myself to try a little more. Before long, I had made it through the sequence. We all made it through and were rewarded with thirty minutes of “yogi sleep” after that.

Towards the end of the sukhasana Marilou covered me up with a blanket and also put a cushion on me. It felt like a much needed hug and before I knew it, I was in a deep, happy slumber.

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