by Kay Alton, Cambodia 300 hour yoga teacher training scholarship winner

Kay looks to the future


Last night I taught my final yoga class to the women at Shakopee Correctional Facility in Minnesota. I’ve been teaching at the prison every Monday since May. Every week, I dread the long drive and the uncertainty of whether there will be a shut down when I get there that will cut my two hour class down to 30 minutes. And then every week I get back in my car to go home and I remember why I love yoga so much. Last night was no exception, except my heart was heavy knowing I would probably not return to those women, some of whom I have taught for 7 months. When I leave the prison, I know why I do the work that I do, and I am even clearer about why I need more training. I want to better serve the people who need yoga most. I want to know how and what to teach depending on what the person in front of me is encountering every day in their body and in their world.

While I have a strong conviction of why I’m doing this advanced yoga teacher training, I do have some fears. My first worry is about getting through the first week of intense hours of physical practice. Once I started teaching consistently, my personal practice took a bit of a back seat. I would still practice at home and meditate, but I took fewer classes at studios. More recently, I've been looking at my calendar at the beginning of every week and trying to fit in at least four classes a week, which is hard! There is a lot going on in my life between now and Cambodia. For one thing, I am in the middle of finding replacement teachers for all my positions, especially where I’m working with at risk populations. I am also moving from Minnesota to California, taking a long road trip to get there with multiple stops along the way. And then there's the holidays. It’s hard to think too much past that. I’ve had multiple people ask me if I’m excited about my trip. I on impulse say, “Yes!”, and then realize that I don’t know if it actually feels real yet, because there’s so much between then and now.

When I get the chance to be still and imagine being a student again, I’m all smiles. I’m excited most about learning more about working with certain populations and more details about the therapeutic nature of yoga. I have recently been geeking out on the Anatomy of Yoga book from my 200 hour training. I realize that I am scrutinizing the book more now than I did during my initial training. In some ways, that training was so full of information that it took me a year just to digest it all and come out the other end with greater understanding. I wonder if that is what this upcoming training will be like. I am still chugging away at all the required readings and it is a ton of information. I get anxious at times, worried I won’t remember it all during the training. I then back off and remind myself that it’s ok that I don’t have a photographic memory, and I can always revisit the books like I'm doing now with books from my first training.

I am ready to be surrounded by yogis, jungle, heat, philosophy, mantra, good conversation around good food, ocean and pure, concentrated living. I am also ready to take my yoga to a new level in order to better serve all people, whether behind bars, in wheelchairs or dealing with personal demons. I simply have to jump through a couple more hoops before I can relax into a very, very long flight and into a new chapter of my life.

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