The teacher training definitely got kicked up a notch this week so I'm upgrading it from summer camp to boot camp.
Monday was our second day off and our second day spent in town in Mysore. (But more about that in a separate post.)
Tuesday was back to our regularly scheduled yoga program starting with 6 AM meditation. After that, I had to sit off to the corner of the class by myself in what felt like yoga time-out, doing my own, gentler practice since my shoulder/bicep still wasn't fully healed. It was so frustrating seeing everyone else do asanas that I know I can do but just not at that particular moment with my almost-healed injury.
That afternoon, I taught my first official class. Our total group of 15 was split into five smaller groups and we each take turns teaching our sub-groups in the afternoon. We were instructed to pick a team name and I suggested The Chakras, which sounds like a hipster band name, and everyone else liked as well. I even drew us a quick team logo: a five pedaled lotus. I volunteered to teach first mostly because it would be easier on my injury and give it maximum healing time. Our teachers observed our classes with emphasis on Sanskrit names & pronunciation, time management and posture corrections. I envisioned they would be standing there all serious with a clipboard and a pen, taking notes and staring at us intently but they just kind of wandered in and out of each class, sometimes doing their own asanas and just listening with a few glances here and there.
So there was definitely room for improvement but overall I felt pretty good about my popping my yoga teaching cherry. I need to learn the Sanskrit asana names better and and I think I need to slow down and be a bit more confident. But I got a lot of positive feedback from the rest of the chakras during the recap discussion. Honestly I was a bit nervous before I started but once I finished, it wasn't so intimidating any more.
Wednesday was ok but Thursday I hit a metaphorical wall. Not sure why but I woke up in a bad mood and everything hurt and the morning practice just seemed to be a collection of all my least liked postures. Extra sun salutations, extra core, extra hip flexer openers. By the end of the class my blood was boiling and I know my negative energy was palpable. At one point I unconsciously yet very audibly slapped my thighs out of pure frustration, stuck somewhere between standing prayer position and forward fold. (A friend told later me she noticed during class and started laughing. Then I started laughing so I'm glad I was at least entertaining to others during my mini tantrum.)
But I couldn't stop it. I think all the pressure and stress and emotion slowly accumulates all week until it reaches a tipping points and spills out onto the mat. Everyone I talked to seemed to have at least one day a week like that.
After that, I was back on the upswing and definitely had more energy and a more positive attitude towards my practice. Sunday night was a full moon so we had a chanting session outside complete with percussion. We went thru several rounds of the usual Sanskrit selections then we mixed it up with people taking turns leading the group to sing their countries' own indigenous moon-related songs. Represented in the international mash up was Norwegian, French and English. But Team English was pretty weak sauce with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The first American Moon song that came to my mind was Bad Moon On the Rise by Creedance Clearwater Revival but I didn't know all the words and would hate to insult Mr. Fogerty with my own inferior rendition.
I found the lectures on Chakras this week particularly interesting. Basically, they are 7 points of Prana energy concentration located kinda sorta along your spine. Each one is associated with different adjectives and affects different parts of the anatomy. Whether you believe the theory or not, focusing on these points definitely helps with focus and meditation.
But hands down, the highlight of this week was our Onam Festival celebration at the Ashram. Onam is celebrated in August in Kerala, South India in honor of King Mahabali. For us, that meant dressing up for a special brunch feast on a banana leaf, singing, dancing, a gorgeous flower carpet and games like draw the bindi on the forehead (an Indian version of pin the tail on the donkey). It was so much fun!
One of my favorite aspects of being here is the shared sense of community.
Its like a cycle - not necessarily with everyone paying back their kindness debt to the one from whom they received it, but more often paying it forward. Maybe the kindness passes through a few other people first before it comes back to you. Hey, that kinda sounds like Karma.
Everyone just wants to help everyone else out. Steph asked her mother in law to bring me some specific meds from Australia that we couldn't get in India. Rama gave me some Ayurvedic lip balm. Clem gave me an amazing shiatsu treatment when my shoulder was sore. Amanda did a Reike energy reading for me. Chand shared his contraband stash of chocolate. I picked up Joi's body scrub in town for her from the spa in Mysore. I shared my ibuprofen with Chand and Caroline. Caroline and Steph gave me natural oil for my dry hair. I am going to attempt to draw a mandala tattoo for Amanda. Joi introduced me to the awesomeness of essential oils. Oh and I'm working on a new logo for the ashram.
Everyone shares everything and sincerely wants to contribute. I can kind of see the appeal of hippie communes in the 60s. But all it takes is one person taking advantage of the system to ruin it.