Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Yoga and Self -Realization

It has been many moons since I wrote in my blog, February to be exact.  I am grateful to say it has been an incredible journey.  I was fortunate enough to return to NYC in the Spring to attend the graduation ceremony with my beloved teacher Sri Dharma Mittra, for the 500Hr LOAY Teacher Training. 

The team of mentors, my inspirational fellow yogis in training, and of course to be reunited with a true yoga master, it was awesome.  I have written enough blogs, and over the years I have encouraged every student of mine to take at least one class with Sri Dharma Mittra, because it truly is transformational experience in the most authentic way.  I cannot write enough words to express my humble devotion and gratitude for this magnificent teacher.  I am so grateful to call him Guru.

While I began the first three months of this year in India, then back in NYC, I wound up being called back to the mother land in June and July.  I had the amazing opportunity to teach daily classes, 200Hr Riya Yoga Teacher Training, and Reiki at the beautiful Ram Yoga House, McLeodganj, India.  Ram has a deep part of my heart, and I am grateful for every chance to teach along side and at his center.  Also in my mind we share a beautiful Puppy named Bella.

Like with every chance of teaching yoga, I feel like I evolve while teaching the course.  These amazing yogis allowed themselves to immerse completely in every challenging aspect of asana, meditation, and self exploration.  They maintained humble appreciation for the practice, and I felt tremendously blessed by their presence.  One month intensive courses can be very challenging for students, and I am always impressed by the dedication students have to learning.  We had such a diverse group of people for daily classes, which is always great for Yoga Teacher Training, because you can see how a teacher navigates everyone, offers adjustments, demonstrates, includes everyone, and addresses therapeutic concerns/modifications, as well as encouraging advanced practitioners to dive deeper into asana practice.

Having the majestic Himalaya Mountains as the backdrop of our daily classes was an amazing bonus.  These students were "receptive" as Sri Dharma says, and therefore, had incredible out of body experiences during meditation, and healing.  Both the girls had their own awakening experience and challenges during teacher training, which is common and made it to the finish line victoriously.  I am very grateful to have been part of their journey.

I had a unique experience the following month where I had unexpected cancellations, and one solo student desperate to enroll in TTC.  I was still scheduled to be in India the rest of July, and I have been open to teaching one to one in the past and it has always been an amazing experience, so I agreed.  This particular student displayed some serious anger management behavior towards hotel guests, the owner Ram, and finally me.  There were even a number of racist comments toward Indians, that while I can acknowledge as an individuals ignorance, perhaps when embarking on a Yoga TTC in the birthplace of Yoga, India, with a teacher of Indian decent....silence may be a better option.  Om Namah Shivaya, Halleluia!  Each day I would calmly encourage peaceful reactions, love and compassion, and silence during class times to make full use of class time.  While her final outburst was directed at me because I requested her to "please come on time/complete assignments so we can utilize time effectively", the anger erupted in her, eventually transformed into tears explaining how she has a short fuse, and she has been through a lot.  I knew that this repeated behavior would take time to heal, and our clearly limited time was not enough for me to facilitate what she needed.  Since she did not pay a deposit or tuition fees, I asked her to return her manual, assured her that one day she will find the right teacher for her and possibly make an amazing yoga teacher, encouraged her to look into other teachers or an ashram setting, and calmly said the course is cancelled. 

This experience taught me to respect my boundaries, to maintain my sense of calm, and be true to what I believe in.  Students earn certification, and perhaps some students resonate better with other teachers.  It also taught me "Bear Injury, Bear Insult, that is the highest form of yoga." because she quickly decided to spread twist the story saying the course was cancelled because I yelled at her.  Well lucky for me my calm reputation has left an imprint with the locals in McLeodganj.  While I was unable to certify her, I wish this young lady all the best in her journey.

While I prefer to write posts about positive experiences, I choose to look at the positive in this experience.  I share this to encourage everyone contemplating teaching yoga to spend some time with the practice, cultivate some gratitude, peace, and joy as much as possible because this is energy which shines beyond a sexy instragram photo.  Nobody is perfect, and it is true that we all have our own painful past experiences, our own karma, and some people even battle with serious anger or mental health issues that are carried in the subconscious.  Yoga aims to calm that monkey mind, the poses are just one limb of an eight limb path, so before you want to teach someone else about it, spend some time doing your own inner work.  The saying "hurt people, hurt people" is far too often true, and even a yogi with years of experience is still working through the 8 Limb practice, so before we try to become a yoga teacher, spend some time cultivating a peaceful heart and devotion to the practice.  There is nothing to lose, and only peace to gain.  This is also a positive lesson for Yoga Teachers, to react with compassion for both yourself and others.

This experience was challenging for me, because I wanted to help this young girl. The beauty is the reminder that yoga is a life long practice, so everyone has a chance to continue their journey of self-realization.

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