Originally published on facebook – May 20, 2009.
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You all want to know about the first week of yoga training so here goes…. Our first day was Sunday (a half day) we show up in the afternoon and meet our teachers. One of them I can tell right away is amazing, beautiful energy, very able, and open, the other I instantly have some reservations about but I think, maybe I’m being judgmental, give it time before forming an opinion, try to find out who she really is. Turns out a few of us ended up having difficulties with her, however we all seem to be working through them and trying to let go of any differences. The important thing is we are here to learn and part of that learning process is to deal with different personality types and to be accepting of them. She has a lot to teach us so we are trying to stay open so we can learn. Don’t want to write too much about this so I will tell you a little about what we have been up to.

During this first class we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves, our names, where we are from etc. We did our first Asana practice together and we did three “communication” exercises. In the first one we had to choose a partner, someone we had never met before, and then we had to sit in front of each other with our eyes closed and meditate on the other person, trying to feel their energy, for 5 minutes. This was pretty easy to do except most of us found that instead of trying to connect into the other person’s energy we ended up just going into ourselves. The second time we had to partner with a different person and do the same thing except this time we had to keep our eyes open, looking into the other person eyes, harder for sure. A lot of people ended up laughing, my partner and I had a small chuckle at first and then we got into it. I tried to think about sending her heart energy, I visualized it as if our two hearts were connected by a loop of firey energy and we were opening to each other. I was thinking about the idea that what you put out is what you get back , energetically, and I was trying to send out pure love. It worked, but after a while I began to feel anxious, uneasy (maybe too open to a woman who was, after all, a stranger) and started breathing quite shallowly. Involuntarily I had to break the eye connection and inhale a deep breath, my hands moved as if to pull more oxygen into my lungs. She noticed this obviously and right away I sensed her sending me calming energy. I noticed her make her eyes smaller and I thought about how I had read that to calm an aggressive or scared cat you can half close your eyes and it soothes them. It worked (I’ve always thought I was part cat) and I felt calmer and started trying to allow the connection to happen again, unfortunately our 5 minutes were up a very short time later. We talked about it a little afterwards and she told me she had felt the heart connection initially as well, and had tried to send calming energy to me when she realized that I felt anxious. Was quite beautiful really and brought me near to tears. For our last exercise we had 3 minutes with a new partner and this time one of us was to try to stay in meditation while the other did anything they could (except touch) to make the other break concentration. Being the person staying in meditation wasn’t so hard at all, it was being the other person, the person who had to be silly, that most of us found challenging (myself included for sure). We talked about our experiences at the end and then finished for the day.

Day 2, really our first full day. We started our day at 7am with a 1-1/2 hour Asana practice. Afterwards we did a little talking about what we would be covering that afternoon and our teachers told us a little about themselves and their experiences both with their personal yoga practice and with teaching. we break around 9:15am and then come back at noon for 5 more hours (this is the typical times we are in class). In the afternoon we cover various things, sometimes we break down poses to learn how to make corrections or increase sensations for our students, sometimes we cover theory like, the 8 limbs of yoga, or philosophy or anatomy (both physical and energetic, eg: chakras) as well we are expected to learn all the Sanskrit and English names of poses (tricky!).We also have to start to learn and memorize sequences of poses like the Sun Salutations.There is so much to learn it is sometimes a little scary. I am struggling with the Sanskrit, my brain just does not seem able to retain this stuff very easily, it appears that it really is harder to learn and memorize once you get older! Old dog, new tricks….. We have started trying to design our own sequences of poses, eventually this will lead to designing full classes, sometime soon we are going to actually teach parts of our sequences to the entire class, good practice for the real world. We are breaking each exercise down and learning how to make adjustments in the poses as well as moves that will help students feel the poses more deeply and bring them into better alignment. We have to learn variations and modifications on all the poses as well as which chakras are associated with them and, as well, what the benefits (physical, mental and spiritual) of each pose are. There is more, much more but I’m kinda done writing about it…lol.

I wanted to share with you about my first meditation experience, because really it was pretty darn cool! We were on a beach in the early part of our day, I made sure to separate myself from the others walking about 30 or 40 meters down the beach so I could feel space around me. We had 30 minutes. This is what I wrote in my journal immediately afterwards….

Meditation #1 – Difficult. Started cross-legged (Perfect Pose). After about 5 minutes my right hip started to really ache. I tried to bear it but only lasted another couple of minutes, then allowed myself to straighten my legs forward. Initially i tried to focus on my breath and count without thinking. (The idea is to count to 10 breaths without thinking, if you have a thought that you chase you return back to 1). I never made it past one. Sometimes I barely made it to one at all. After 5 or 10 minutes with legs extended I brought them back to perfect pose. My right hip started to ache again within minutes. I was still trying to count. I felt it wasn’t working for me, I felt myself beginning to get frustrated so I thought about trying to look at my third eye instead. Very quickly I noticed that everything was yellow. I kept focused on trying to look where my third eye would be behind my forehead and I noticed that there was a more concentrated light there, kind of like a ball. I remember thinking about the fact that the light was yellow and how that related to my golden tree of light (I won’t get into this but some of you know about it already). At some point I became aware that my hip no longer hurt and of course because I became aware of that it started to hurt again. I realized that I had the power to ignore that discomfort, so I did. I returned to the light. At some point a wave of pinkish red rose up and I immediately thought of the root chakra. Then I had a conscious thought, I wanted to work my way through the colours and up through the chakras in my body so I started to trying to see orange and pretty much failed. I guess when I started trying to control the experience I lost the connection. As I was realizing thiswhen my teacher walked by and whispered “It’s time”. So time was up. The first 15-20 minutes seemed to drag on but the last 10 went so quickly. I actually felt like I was doing something even though there was still thought. At a certain point I felt like an observer, being taken on a very cool ride.

So to add to that I’m pleased that at points I was noticing things and thinking them but wasn’t following my thoughts, I was allowing them to happen and then letting them go, this is what I have been told is “proper” meditation (and I was doing it!) thrilling! We are apparently going to do this every day, working up to 2 hours by the end of the program! I am not sure how many of these I will share, it kinda depends what comes up but I thought you might find this first one exciting, I know I did!

The other students are lovely, I relate to some more then others of course but I look forward to getting to know all of them better as this month goes by. I am glad that I have rented my own place away from everybody, it is good for me to have a place where I can be away from them sometimes as we do spend so much intense time together.

We have a lot to cover this next month (written portion – 8 quizzes, 1 midterm and a final exam, practical testing – I don’t even know), it is intimidating and I am worried about how I am going to learn it all and how this teacher is going to be. But I also know that I am going to do my very best to ace this program and to get along with this difficult person. Wish me luck! 🙂

Namaste….

P.S. It’s now our second Tuesday and the teachers are starting to split up the days a bit more, one will teach the morning and the other the afternoon. It seems to be working out quite nicely for both them and us. The “difficult” teacher is doing better this week, I think she realized that a lot of us were struggling with her personality and she seems to have toned it down in some ways. You can tell she is making an effort to be more accessible and light, so things are looking up! After my first awesome meditation I haven’t been able to get back there, kinda disappointing, I suspect I may be having problems because I now have expectations about what meditation will be like, having had such a great first time. So I’m thinking I have to learn to be more in the moment and not to expect or anticipate what might happen, I just have to let whatever will happen, happen. We are working our asses off, my wrists are in rough shape from all the poses we do. Yesterday we did an hour and a half asana practice, then we did a abs and headstand workshop and then we did 7 sun salutations A and 7 sun salutations B. Today same thing except this workshop was on arm balances. Tomorrow we have TWO, one and a half hour asana practices, an hour or so of breathing exercises another ab workshop and god knows whatever else they throw at us! I think I will be either made of steel or broken by the time this month is over!

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