Monday, August 17, 2015

Ready…. Or Not: Preparing For Yoga Teacher Training

by Eva Brockschmidt, September 2015 200 hour Bali Yoga Teacher Training student

Eva gets ready to climb
500 hours of yoga teacher training in Bali are probably not an experience that you can just throw yourself into without some thorough preparation. That's why I’ve spent the past month stepping up my asana practice, making my way through the reading list, and generally putting my house in order. During this time it began to dawn on me what I had really gotten myself into. I was in for a wild and wonderful, but also frightening ride.

Getting Ready

Everyone probably expects yoga teacher training to be physically intense and challenging, and so I’ve tried to make sure that my body is ready. Living in London I’ve been blessed with a host of amazing teachers. After a month of practicing six days a week, sometimes twice a day, I could notice real physical progress. My body feels stronger, more flexible and generally more responsive and my energy levels have been soaring.

However, beyond asana practice there was also a lot of reading to be done. Coming from a law background, processing a lot of written information has never been a big problem for me, although this kind of writing was completely new to me. A lot of the books I thoroughly enjoyed, almost wolfing them down. Others didn’t really seem to relate to my current life – “if you can hold your breath for 300 counts you will reach enlightenment”. Say what? More like pass out from lack of oxygen. But on the whole, the reading seems to have started a transformative process. I’ve begun to re-examine and reevaluate not only my relationship with myself and others, but also all my long-held beliefs, ideals, behavioral and thought patterns. While this is a tremendous opportunity for which I am deeply grateful, at times it also feels extremely confusing and rather scary.

Starting Over

Flowers in my garden in London
Having spent the past three years doing a degree that made me miserable, I knew I needed a change. So I decided to take a break, do my yoga teacher training in Bali and then spend a year traveling. For six months I have been looking forward to this point with increasing anticipation, joy and excitement. But now that the training is just around the corner I have noticed that there are new, darker emotions creeping in: anxiety, fear and doubt. Am I making the right choice leaving everything behind at least for a while? Should I have stayed in London? What about my friends, will they still be there when I come back? Ego innately resists change, and it's probably human nature to prefer the present status quo. So every time these questions arise, in my mind, I try to rephrase uncertainty as possibility and opportunity.

Tackling Insecurities

Yoga forces us to look inward, and the prospect of yoga teacher training has forced me to confront a number of deeply held insecurities. I find myself repeatedly questioning whether I’m really good enough. Are the other students better than me? What if they are? Even in yoga it can sometimes be extremely difficult to escape our society’s competitive mind-set. In class, it's sometimes all too easy to feel jealous of the super bendy student next to you, or the one who’s seemingly effortlessly balancing in a handstand. Even though I’m happy with my own practice, it’s sometimes hard to shake of perfectionistic tendencies and I’ve been wishing I were more flexible, stronger with a better sense of balance. Oh, if only I had more time to get ready.

Fortunately I’ve had the chance to share these fears with one of my yoga teachers who has encouraged and supported me on my journey these past few months. In recounting her own doubts when embarking on her own teacher training many years ago, she made me realize that these doubts are completely normal and almost anyone will have them to some degree. In addition, she gave me a helpful reminder that will hopefully stay with me for the rest of my time: “If you’re worried that you can’t hold pincha mayurasana, then you’re completely missing the point.” And she’s right. That’s not what yoga is about. It’s not about fancy poses or how well you can stand on your head. Although these things are fun too, yoga is really so much more than that.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, I know I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Instead, I choose to have faith that I am exactly where I need to be right now. If I already knew everything and my asana practice was perfect, then what would be the point in me going? Instead I am ready to learn and to grow, and am excited to meet some wonderful people along the way. Ultimately I am so grateful for the opportunity to completely immerse myself in something I love. How amazing is that?

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