Our graduate #yogastory series provides insight to firsthand student experience while in training. This one is particularly unique in that it’s broken down into individual journal entries, courtesy of our 2017 Santa Barbara graduate, Uta Plotkin.
WEEK 1. DAY 2. April 24th
The days feel sooo long! I can’t believe it’s only day two. Our lecture tonight was on meditation. We did a twenty-five minute meditation, and it felt wonderful! When Elias asked us how we felt after, I said I felt relaxed and content, and that’s when I realized that I belong here. That I had picked the right training to go to. Truth be told, I was so filled with anxiety before coming here but all of that has dropped away now. I killed it at half moon recitation today and felt exhilarated. I loved our yoga class. I loved our food! I feel good and happy and focused. I feel like I’m doing something meaningful. I feel like I’m supposed to be here, and I feel like our teachers are taking excellent care of us and teaching us valuable things. They have so much personal experience to draw on. I haven’t had cravings for booze or coffee either! Well, not strong ones at least I’m sore and tired, but I just don’t care.
WEEK 1. DAY 5. April 28th
We practiced on the beach this morning and saw dolphins! It was good to practice on the beach because we had plenty of space and were forced to project our voices and deal with the distraction of dogs sniffing us. Our training group is made up of all women, which I’m really enjoying. Apparently we cry way more than past groups, haha! It feels so good though. I’m starting to feel special and powerful again where I was feeling so diminished. I’m feeling hope and strength where I was feeling cynicism and impotence. Every day the things we learn, physically and mentally, make every yoga class better than the last, and every yoga class strengthens my physical and mental practice. It’s an amazing loop we’re in.
WEEK 2. DAY 5. May 5th
I was starting to feel tired and depressed so I did some good meditating today. It was a gray, foggy day and my mood was low. Tomorrow we teach the postures Tree, Toe and Savasana. I’m not enthusiastic right now. I’m tired. Maybe tomorrow will be a coffee day. I’m teaching myself to walk with a micro-bend in my knee since I recently learned that I hyper-extend. It aggravates my old knee injury when I do that so I have to walk slow while I re-train myself. Who knew that walking would take so much concentration? It’s draining. I’m accessing muscles and tissues that weren’t being used before so that’s pretty cool. And I’m actually really grateful at this point that I injured my knee because it allows me to better relate to my students with knee injuries. That is the bright side of it! I think the best teachers teach from experience, so “thanks for tearing, ACL” (haha, never thought I’d say that).
WEEK 3. DAY 5. May 12th
We’ve been studying anatomy this week, which is fascinating because it’s directly tied to all these actions we’re performing every day. Being here is physically intense so it’s interesting to get in there and see what’s happening. Torrey is a great teacher. She keeps it interesting and encourages us to ask questions and provides great answers to our questions.
Our lecture was fascinating, as always. We talked about willfulness and surrender in yoga and in life in general. I love the idea of finding a balance between these things – making it happen and letting it happen. And I love the concept of non-attachment. We talked a lot about relating to people from a “higher” place, which requires you to step back and evaluate, to self-reflect, to detach so as to figure out what serves the highest good (in your opinion) for the situation at hand. Then you’re more likely to be honest, compassionate and do what’s in everyone’s best interest. Maybe the other person will sense the place you’re coming from and be elevated as well. Shivers!
WEEK 4. DAY 6. Graduation May 20th
Wow. Graduation day. We got our butts kicked by Mark in class this morning. I liked how he sprinkled in yoga wisdom fluidly and matter-of-factly throughout the class, reminding people of other helpful aspects of yoga besides the physical. Following that, Zefea led us in wall walks and we all shared what we learned at training (mine was to trust my decisions and my path more). Then we began our graduation which consisted of [TOP SECRET (haha)]. Afterward we all drove into town and the girls escorted me to a tattoo parlor where I got a spider (eight limbs!) in a circle with a crown over it. It’s on top of my right wrist where a watch might be. The spider presented itself as my yoga spirit animal. I want this tattoo to be like a mantra, reminding me of my yoga path of non-attachment, higher good and cessation of the modifications of the mind. There have been so many things leading me to this point in my life that I can’t help but feel it’s part of a grand plan, a long play and a weird circuitous journey, but a purposeful one.