I’ve been meaning to write for ages about how yoga teacher training stole my yoga practice! But I have been too busy planning and teaching classes, learning Sanskrit and studying the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutra and Hatha Yoga Pradipika to write the post.
Then I realised something else… I don’t get up at 7am anymore to practice asana, but I do get up at 7am to study philosophy. My evenings are no longer spent in a Hatha Yoga class, but yoga philosophy has permeated every aspect of my life.
I am constantly watching and noticing my thoughts. I have a greater awareness of the stillness, or more likely, busyness of my mind. ‘Yoga chitta vritti nirodha’ has become like a mantra. Whenever I get a moment to sit I watch my breath and paying attention to its quality make a real effort to sill my mind. On the nights I don’t fall immediately to sleep I do Ashtanga Vinyasa primary series in my head.
So maybe yoga teacher training didn’t steal my yoga practice after all. Instead it deepened and enhanced it…
Yes it shifted my focus from the asana practice that, like so many others, led me to yoga. But my practice is still very much alive, it just manifests in the form of self-study and concentration at the moment.
Back in May I was practicing Mysore style Ashtanga Vinyasa around five times a week. The last time I attended class my teacher (a man to whom I owe a huge amount) suggested I should: “Take off my armour.” He told me to: “Open the treasure chest,” when I asked what he meant with a knowing smile told me to go and ‘figure it out’.
Bizarrely reducing my asana practice seems to be leading me to the answer. Maybe the strong physical practice was my armour. I hid behind the physically and strength of my asana practice. In the past it had helped me cleanse and burn through a huge amount of negativity. But now l needed to peel away that protective layer and discover what yoga is for me on the inside.
What I have begun to learn and discover is love, compassion, peace and equanimity. It feels as though many aspects of my life are starting to fall into place, I have a love in my heart that I have never felt before and I am beginning to really feel things for the first time in years.
Much of the insight that has helped me see this is because I realised I have a real love and passion for studying the ancient philosophical texts, their wisdom knows no bounds and, in many cases, is as applicable today as it was thousands of years ago when they were penned.
So yoga teacher training didn’t steal my practice at all, it help me find a new way of bring that is unlocking the doors to the different levels of yoga practice.
Now with a new focus, love in my heart, and the lid of the treasure chest prised open maybe it’s time to rediscover my asana practice….