As I make my way through the first few days of hot yoga teacher training with evolation I am already experiencing some mini epiphanies about yoga, my practice and my Self. It started with the feedback following my first teaching clinic for Half-Moon pose and lightbulbs have been flashing in my brain ever since. Here I will share a couple of the things that have resonated the most clearly for me as a way to record them for my own learning, and to give some insight into the depth of experience we are all receiving at this training.
1. I am already a yoga teacher
From the moment you sign up to evolation yoga teacher training you are told by the senior teachers that you are “already a yoga teacher.” How is this possible when I have only been practicing for little over a year and I’ve never stood at the front of a class and tried to get a group of people to follow my instructions. Simply put, I have been reminded here that all my actions in the world impact on other people – and my behaviour alone will teach those around me. Whether it is interacting with Mark and Zefea’s wonderful children, supporting my fellow trainees or day to day interactions with strangers I am a teacher in every thing I do.
I am a yoga teacher because I have a practice. In this teacher training I am developing the tools to make me a great teacher, but the toolbox is already there, waiting to be filled. In our philosophy lecture in a sunny Amsterdam park yesterday we were shown that the first yoga sutra states: Now is the exposition of yoga. Yoga is happening in the now, and it is always now. This can be extended into saying yoga is always, and yoga is everything.
2. The primary series(26+2) is a mantra
All of the meditation techniques I have encountered throughout my life have been built around a simple set of words, a single point of focus like a candle or a flower, or my breath. One of the reasons for picking something simple as the focus point for quieting the mind is that then there is no space for extra thoughts or reacting to new stimulus. If you tried to sit in a busy street while meditating there would be so much distraction that it might become impossible. Of course after much practice it could be a wonderful exercise to try, but as a point of entry for stillness then a quiet space and a simple message is a sensible place to start meditating.
The fact that a 90 minute hot yoga class is always the same, that the postures are always in the same order and that the instructions given by the teacher are almost identical every time creates a similar space for a meditative state. There is no opportunity to worry about what might come next when you practice enough you already know. The heat and the physical exertion already contribute to the “cessation of the fluctuations of the mind” – as the second sutra puts it – but I believe it is the confidence created by the knowledge that the class won’t change that really reduces the amount of chatter in the brain.