Teaching Yoga

Another yoga teacher training weekend has passed. They fly by. There are only 3 weekends (7 days) left, and we are teaching to the public for each of those days. It seems unbelievable that we've come so far in what seems like such a short amount of time. We've met for 5 weekends (11 days) since September, and it's amazing to see the progress each and every one of us has been making since the beginning.

I love the way this teacher training is set up. We began by teaching to (and learning from) 3 of the other students in the class, for 2 sets of 10 minutes at a time. It was a rocky start for all of us—we listened to Jacqui's (the YTT teacher) advice, read our manuals about the transitions in and out of each pose, and jumped into teaching. I know I'm not the only one who felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

Then we switched to another set of 3 students, and each time we taught and got more advice from Jacqui, we grew a little more and felt a little more confident. For the last 2 weekends we've been also teaching for five minutes at a time to half the class, which is about 16 students, while the other half of the class works on assisting the students who are following the vocal instruction.

Five minutes may not seem like a whole lot of time, but it's incredibly informative what can be learned during those 5 minutes. It's an amazing experience to vocally guide 16 people through physical movements—to see how each one of them moves differently. What's really amazing is that THEY GUIDE ME too. As I look around the room I see their feet, and their shoulders, and their hips. Because I can see where they are, the words are beginning to come naturally to encourage them toward better alignment. If someone's shoulders are all scrunched up by their ears, I'm reminded to guide everyone toward relaxing their shoulders. So, each student is there to help guide the other students as well… I love that.

Not only does my voice guide their body, but it can guide their mind as well. There are unseen cues that can be given to guide them within; to feel their breath; to focus their attention on the space on their forehead between their eyes; to think of someone they love and send the positive effects of their practice to that person… the cues are endless.

I'm slowly learning that there's a part deep inside of me that really knows the poses. I've done them (the ones I teach, anyway) and felt them all in my own body, so I have the body memory of what they feel like, and how a tiny adjustment can really feel amazing.

I'm also really starting to feel comfortable being myself around the group. It can sometimes take me a long time to really open up and show my heart and soul to a group of people. This Saturday was the first time I walked into the training weekend feeling open and receptive. Each of the weekends before I felt anxiety and self conscious. Perhaps this has to do with feeling more confident about the teaching of the poses. That meek feeling of "I don't know what I'm doing" is passing, and it seems as though the part of me that knows what to do is able to shine more.

The experience of yoga-teacher-training has been, and I'm sure will continue to be a transformative experience. Each of us has shared a moment in our lives when we have been touched by grace. This weekend was my turn to share, and like many others in the class I ended up in an emotional blubbering mess while trying to talk about it. It's incredibly humbling to be so vulnerable in front of 35 people, who just a few months ago had no idea who you were. I have so much respect for the lives and processes that each and every one of the other yogis in the training. They have all gone through so much, and overcome so many obstacles. It really is teaching me that we can't judge any other person. Everyone has a story that we don't know, and they're all beautiful—as hard as they are, we're making it through, and THAT is what's beautiful.

So, I invite you to join me and all these beautiful people in one (or more) of the community classes that we're offering over the next 3 weekends that we meet.

January 18, 19 and 20
February 1 and 2
March 8 and 9

Reflections in others - the shadow self

It's been coming to my attention much more often lately, that everything I experience is a reflection of my own inner life. Each time I run into a person who seems to ruffle my feathers, a little flag goes up for me. I ask myself what it is about that person that seems to irk me? I don't stay with this thought long, it's usually just the question… and it remains unanswered.

Instead of diving into seeking what I don't like about the person, I'll choose to shift my focus away from them and into myself. Each individual person has a bigger picture—something that I cannot see—and for me to judge them for being too needy, or overprotective, or egotistical really has nothing to do with them and their life.

How ever I am perceiving anything outside of myself is a reflection of how I'm feeling inside of myself. So rather than judging or blaming anything outside of myself as the reason for my discomfort, it's a much more healing exercise to recognize myself in what it is that I'm witnessing and investigate internally what beliefs I'm holding onto that cause me to see it in the way I'm seeing it. It brings my power back to me—changes my mentality from the role of victim to creator.

The people closest to us reflect to us our deepest hidden truths. They know us best, and in a way, we are attracted to them because they have something to show us that when we see it in ourselves it will allow us to heal on the deepest level. The things about everyone in our lives that bother us are there to teach us about ourselves. Of course, it's always a choice to look at it this way or not to. It's entirely possible to be so upset by them that you need to entirely walk away. But know that whatever is there for you to heal will continue to present itself until you see it with open eyes and are willing to heal through it. Walking away is a temporary band-aid. When we need to see something, the universe will continue to present us with a mirror to encourage the opening of our eyes. If we walk away from one mirror, another will appear.

We live in a vibrational reality—a world where energy creates everything, and vibrates along a range of frequencies. Whatever frequency we are vibrating at—because of our thoughts and feelings—is what we are capable of seeing in the world in that moment. Therefore, whenever we are feeling light and bubbly, the world shows us how light and bubbly it can be. Likewise, when we are feeling depressed or angry, the world seems to be a very depressing and angering place.

Whenever we are presented with something in our lives that makes us uncomfortable, it's an opportunity for us to witness a little bit of our unconscious programming, and bring it into consciousness. We can see what type of world we are manifesting for ourselves. Just the fact that that situation has been brought into our awareness is a sign that there's something there for us to look at inside. It's not outside, it's always inside. Whatever appears on the outside is all a reflection of what is inside. That's how this world works.

This is often referred to as the shadow self. The shadow can be shown to us through other people—they act in ways that we don't like or disapprove of, or don't want to see or be around. These things that they show us—just by being who they are—are the things that we are in denial of about ourselves, but are attracting to ourselves because it's a part of who we are, and we are unconsciously projecting this energy out into the universe asking for it to manifest.

What is there to do about it?
When we can acknowledge and take responsibility that everything we experience is brought into our lives because we asked for it, we begin to look at the world a little differently. We now see each interaction with another person as a gift—as a way of seeing something we might not have been able to see before. We can witness the interaction from an un-attached point of view and watch as our bodies retract and expand, and take note of the things in the interaction that caused the shift. When we can see what causes our bodies to retract and expand, it's possible to investigate into our beliefs about what triggered the shift.

For example, when someone walks by swiftly and starts banging things around in a nearby room I notice my body retract, and pull away from that person. Upon sitting with the feeling and investigating into the reasons why I pulled away I might learn that I believe the person to be angry, then taken it personally thinking they were angry at me for something I did or didn't do. Then… not knowing what it was that I did to cause this anger I might think that they had expectations of me that I did not live up to, causing them to become angry. I pull away from them and wish they would let go of their anger.

All that is a story I've made up. It's not real. When I can take a step back and investigate the feelings I have within myself I may recognize that my resistance to their noisy actions may be because I have seeds of anger within myself that I'm in denial of, and don't like to look at. The person being noisy in the other room is simply a mirror for me to reflect on the angry seeds within myself, and I'm resistant of it because it's not something I want to acknowledge. That resistance so often—when kept unconscious—can lead to us wanting the other person to change, and be different from how they are so that we don't have to look into the mirror anymore. If they change, and become not angry, then the mirror goes away and I'm comfortable again…

But we don't have control over that. The actions of another person are beyond our control. The only thing we can control is how we respond to each moment. When we can respond with mindfulness, and bring consciousness to the resistance we feel within, we can face the mirror and choose to summon bravery to look at what we don't want to see. Each and every instance of resistance can be an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. Some of these things are not easy, but all of them are worth learning, and becoming conscious of. Bringing awareness to things we were once unconscious of is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, our family, friends, community and the world. It removes the unconscious programming that we've absorbed our entire lives, and helps us to wake up to what's real.

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."‬ ~ Rumi

So, when the resistance arrives, before reacting (if possible), or as soon as you become aware, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Know that the actions of the other are a gift for you. You may not see what it is right away. Simply keep breathing, and try to accept the other person as they are without persuading them to change. Keep breathing. If you need to, walk away, but know that your walking away is only temporary relief in order for you to re-center. Keep your focus on your breath, and let your thoughts float past. They will likely be noisy and try to tell you all sorts of reasons for why the other is wrong and why your resistance is justified… simply breathe. Breathe really loud if you need to, letting your breath be louder than your thoughts.

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