Yoga Teacher Training: Weekend One

First some background and housekeeping: the yoga teacher training I am signed up for is my 200 hr teaching. It’s comprised of 3 hrs on Friday, 6 hrs on Saturday and 4 hrs on Sundays with the additional requirement of 3 studio classes a week, 8 books for our reading list and a 9th that we are to do a book report on, we also are tasked with growing our home practice and have a monthly journal we need to submit as part of that, weekly class review sheets and whatever homework is assigned by our instructors (we have three overall-Stacey, Rhia, Sarah- and one as a group leader) one sveda weekend (this means service and it’s cleaning and setting up, breaking down the studio) and it’s highly recommended that we meet once a week with our study buddy.

So. It’s A lot.

This weekend was the opening weekend and I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect. Originally I had been told that every slot had been filled-20 people. I’m not sure what happened between that point and this point but as of right now there are 13 of us in the program and the 13th (my study buddy) was only added within the last week, long after signups had closed (special favor as she’s new to the area).

Friday night was somewhat low-key, opening circle introductions and Stacey asked us to say what we had for lunch as one of our “this is who I am” statements. It was a funny way to get some insight into people because most of the group had recently been traveling for the holidays. We have two men in our group which is nice, I always like to have a male perspective on poses and how it affects their bodies or where their ability in poses falls vs ours. We closed this night with a commitment ceremony, offering the group our commitment to them, to the training, most people offered being available, being present, I offered being a safe place as the studio is for me.

Saturday morning on the drive in, I teared up a little bit. I feel kind of like a dork for that but I really did. Having Sprog so young, I never got the chance to go to college and getting a sort of formal education now after all these years? It’s a really big deal to me. It feels very surreal and like I want to do it justice. It’s also scary as hell because this is a huge time, body and soul commitment and I am not a spring chicken, I am not clear of health…it’s just…I hope it goes well.

Saturday began the very rigorous practice days. Not to say that we didn’t work up a sweat on Friday, because we did, but we also did a lot of housekeeping talk, learned our togetherness mantra (or tried, it’s entirely in sanskrit and I don’t think that any of us is anywhere close to getting this yet) we were assigned our group leaders and small groups and things of that sort. Saturday? Saturday the hammer fell. This weekend was Surya Namaskar weekend, this translates to all the many sun salutations. ALL THE MANY SUN SALUTATIONS. Sun Salutation A is comprised of mountain pose, standing forward fold, half standing forward fold, standing forward fold again, step back to plank (or hop to chaturanga) cobra pose, downward facing dog, standing forward bend, half standing forward fold and mountain pose.

We practiced this several times together as a group as part of an almost two hour long full practice. Then we broke down each piece of the progression and dissected body alignment and positioning, using classmates as models. Stacey would pull a group and have them stand, directing their bodies into proper alignment so we could see the changes in them as they normally stand vs how they should be if all the proper muscle groups are engaged or relaxed. Stacey is hyper flexible and mentioned that has its own drawbacks, there are many poses that do absolutely nothing for her if she doesn’t actively engage her muscle groups, that she can flop right over into forward fold without actually working anything but for someone with short or tight hamstrings it’s vastly different for them to keep a straight spine. One of the guys asked to see that and she called me as the model. I have to bend my knees A LOT in that position to keep a forward tilt on my hips and length in my spine instead of having a cat spine.

Each pose was broken down in this way: demonstration, questions, modification to our own understanding of the pose, attempting it again. And then we had to practice teach with our buddy. We could not use any notes or cheat sheet and we were supposed to do it in sanskrit It was really hard to hear with everyone talking in every different direction and hard to get the sanskrit right. I had some doom feelings start to well up because I knew that the only thing that would follow individual practice teach would be group teach but they didn’t say anything about it, tricky, just closed the evening with another full practice, the togetherness mantra and homework assignment.

Our homework was writing out the progression for Surya Namaskar A and submitting it to our group leader before class the next morning. I practiced in the shower that night. I looked up the sanskrit pronunciation of the words (I still can’t get downward dog right in sanskrit). I had a fitful night’s sleep because that many planks, chaturangas, downward facing dogs and various other poses over two days already started taking the toll on my body and the muscle soreness started before I fell asleep.

Sunday I was seriously dragging ass when I left for class, so tired, so sore, sinus madness. What pumped me up and prepped me for the new day? Blasting old school hard rock and metal and driving very fast on the freeway. I sang along to Ozzy, Megadeath and Crüe and felt much better. I’m not sure that’s very yogic of me but maybe I’m just a different kind of yogi.

Sunday we began much the same way, on the mat, for Surya Namaskar B which has some of the same poses as A but includes chair pose (hate) and warrior one and we spent A LOT OF TIME doing and holding chair pose because a discussion formed around feet together or feet apart for chair. Stacey (and formal training) says feet together, Rhia (and me most the time) says feet apart but feet apart is a bit harder (and quite a bit harder when in a static hold) so that’s a drawback. My issue is that I have super bony ankles and feet together has bone on bone contact which is painful and distracts me from the pose.

So after our practice, it was time for group teach, HA HA HA and at first Stacey called someone else to go first but since there is an odd number in the room my mat ended up forward of the group and she changed her mind. SIGH. First picked on to teach the group Surya Namaskar A. I wanted to hork. I couldn’t even tell you what I said or what it looked like when people were doing the poses, it’s like the most ultimate of tunnel vision. I certainly hope that next weekend when we have to do this again, I get a little bit better. After I went, I ran back up to my mat and the next person down the line carried through the same progression. We did Surya Namaskar A 9 times and Surya Namaskar B 4 times.

5 of us stayed after school to attend a restorative class thinking that would be an awesome way to knock out one of our 3 required studio classes and help our bodies after the weekend. And then the universe laughed in our stupid faces because our instructor started class with SUPPORTED HATHA POSES: STANDING FORWARD FOLD AND DOWNWARD FACING DOG. I laughed y’all. I seriously could not believe I was doing ANOTHER EFFING FORWARD FOLD. There is not enough support in the world that would take away the crying on the inside.

Y’all, breathing hurts. I can barely raise my arms. I think the people that do 108 sun salutations to ring in the New Year are out of their effing minds.

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