Day one of teacher training started today. There is a fairly small group compared to TT’s in the US so we are very lucky. Mark, Marc, myself and Patrick from Hong Kong- Pure Yoga– are all observing. All of us are intensively writing notes from all that John teaches. That makes me feel good that even though these guys are high level and certified teachers they are still totally rooted in the seat of the student. We are all constantly refining our teaching and our practice- not one of us sat there going, “yeah- I know all this already- whatever…”. We all were intense and focused. Great company to keep.
John’s theme was “meaning”. He began by talking about energy- shakti- and how the energy follows meaning. For example- when I make dinner for just myself it is a scrambled egg and toast. But if I am making dinner for an old friend I haven’t seen and I love dearly it becomes the gourmet extravaganza. Still both dinner yet radically different. Why? Because I put more meaning on the dinner I make for my friend- I want them to be impressed and I want to show them that I care.
Yoga works in this same way. You can do the physical practice of yoga and just run through the poses but then that is just a work out- it’s not yoga. Yoga is when we come to the mat to get answers to the bigger questions- “why am I here?” “what do I want out of life?” “What makes me happy?” If you start with that intention then you put meaning into the practice. John was saying, ” why does a student not keep their leg straight? It’s not because they are not strong enough- it’s because it doesn’t have meaning to them”. If I lose mental focus teaching , it’s because I have not put meaning into it. That’s big. I try to teach from my own experiences so that my teaching is infused with meaning. If I do that consistently than the energy comes and supports me- even if I am tired. It does the same for you as a student. If you think of something important to you- something that has a deep meaning in your heart- your practice will become more than physical- it will become yoga- union. Meaning is a way in which we build a pathway to our heart.
I have been sick for a few days now with a sinus thing but have I told John, “I’m sick- I am not going to practice.” No. I invested a lot of money, studied many hours, sacrificed time with my children and husband- I am going to practice and practice well- because this time I have now is infused with meaning.
I came to yoga because of my dad. He never practiced yoga- he would probably would scratch his head in disbelief if I told hm the money and time I had spent on it. But I can’t tell him- he’s dead. When he died my world went upside down- I lost the person I most admired in the world. He was my guide- and now I was alone. He left some money to all of us and I put most on the house and in my kids RESP’s but I kept a little nest egg for myself- for something special. I had no idea what for but I knew it would come. A bad asthma attack took me away from running and so I turned more fully to my yoga practice. I began to want to learn more and so I took my nest egg and bought private yoga lessons. It changed my life.
Every time I practice now I remember my father, my teacher. I remember his love and sacrifice that brought me to Japan and how his death brought me to yoga. I remember his teachings- to be good, honest, work hard and love your family. I learn from those things that he did not do- I share my feelings, I take time to do things for myself, and I never put off life’s opportunities. My father spent most of his life wanting to travel- especially to New Zealand where most of his family was. He kept putting it off- not because he didn’t have the time or money- but because he was too busy taking care of everyone else and ignoring himself. He never made it.
I practice for him. I practice to learn how to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better friend. That has meaning. My physical practice, when practiced with meaning, is transformational- it takes me to my heart.
During the lunch break today, John invited me to practice with the merry band- that is what he calls the entourage of assisting teachers. I was right beside my teacher. Every bad habit, every misalignment was right out there to see. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. John noticed something in my legs and gave me a great tip right off the bat- a way to work my shins more. He does that- he will give you one thing and then watch to see if you integrate it and then he will give you something else. He can always find someway to help you refine your pose- even if you are the most advanced student. He’s also nice enough not to tell you everything that is wrong and overwhelm you!
We ended the training at 6pm- we had gone non-stop since 9 am and I wasn’t even that tired. The merry band proceeded to wander the underground of Yokohama station in search of a restaurant that Mark had been to but couldn’t quite remember where it was. We did manage to find it and all had some good conversation and laughs over lovely organic food. Except for the pudding- Kelly and Marc called it ” soy cream with apple sauce”- I went for the spinach custard myself. John didn’t touch either and was going to go look for a real dessert.
I bought a little bouquet of flowers after I said goodnight to the merry band and made my way back to my hotel. I plopped them in my bathroom cup and made myself something pretty for my tiny room. I had a very full day but it didn’t seem long or hard- because it had meaning.