When I return home from a yoga training, like the 7 weeks I just spent with my teachers in Maui, I can most accurately gauge its effect. Do I feel rejuvenated, inspired, different or transformed in some way? Is there more clarity with regards to my current goals, intentions, and self-work? Do I have more awareness and compassion for my challenges and struggles? Absolutely! In fact, I am left with new questions and insights that keep me curious and wanting to seek more and dig deeper.
I have a renewed appreciation for how important yoga is in my life to maintain my physical and emotional well-being, especially since having a baby and becoming a working mom. Doing my own practice has become a luxury most days donʼt afford. But after 6 weeks and 500 hours of daily yoga practice, I feel more “normal” than I have in quite a while — like Iʼve been able to press the ʻresetʻ button. I am reminded of the amazing reservoir of energy and stability that a regular yoga practice creates, and from which I can draw to do my work as a mom, partner, yoga teacher, and acupuncturist. I have been a yoga student for 22 years and participating in a yoga training this deep is no common event for me.
I went to India in 1996 for 3 months to study yoga in Mysore and since then, I have only been able to extract myself from my work and life for a week or two at a time. The time and financial commitments for this extensive training were significant for me but incredibly worth it. The importance of making these pilgrimages is invaluable for the yoga student and the teacher. Teachers create and hold the space for us do our practice and challenge us to work and grow in ways that we canʼt do on our own.
One of the meanings of guru is “heavy.” A guru’s job is to provide tangible skills, tools and an environment for practice, and to maintain a steady perspective as the studentʼs “stuff” is arising — and believe me the “s….” arises! Another definition of guru is “one who sheds light upon that which is dark.” A seasoned yoga teacher inspires and offers the compassionate “outer eye.” They help the student learn how to work more intelligently and to see the ways they are working ineffectively, and even harmfully. A teacherʼs job is to “see” the student, and to reflect back what he or she sees, whether or not they like or are ready for it. To be seen is difficult, as any yoga student knows. This is when our ego wants to fight back, get defensive, resist or avoid. It is at this precise moment when we have an opportunity to learn something new that serves us and let go of something old that doesnʼt. This is when after 22 years of practice and 16 years of teaching I still humbly consider myself a beginner.
As a teacher, it is an incredible gift to receive yoga; to fill the well from which we give. I can truly attest that at times that well runs dry. But after six weeks, I feel a refreshed passion and enthusiasm for teaching and have new tools to offer. I also find that my yoga teacher “eye” has been honed and I am able to be helpful, get more specific and deep into the practice.
The level of training was intense. The teachers were firm and relentless with the patterns they witnessed that were out of alignment, physically and personally. They took a hands on approach and were willing to get into it with us. I saw my teachersʼ and fellow yogisʼ humanity and imperfections more clearly and they saw mine. To evolve and grow as yoga students and teachers, we need to be willing to peel away the layers of our being, be willing to be seen.
“To evolve and grow as yoga students and teachers, we need to be willing to peel away the layers of our being, be willing to be seen.”
Our teachers help to reveal that the ceiling in yoga is quite high and there is always a new layer. These trainings can be a yoga pressure cooker of sorts, an opportunity to get “cooked,” and seasoned by our teachers who have walked the path before us. No book or DVD or power hour yoga class can replace these priceless journeys of a lifetime to be with our teachers.