Coming back from our trip was a shock for sure. Of course the weather was distinctly different, but it was also the culture shock, never mind being on the east coast while the rest of my family are still out west! I came back in order to start the 2011 O2 Yoga Teacher Training program Feb 19. It is one of my favorite and most challenging parts of my job.
Coming back to teaching is always wonderful. There is a distinct sense of being home when I step in front of a group of yogis in Somerville or the South End. There are many familiar faces and many new ones. However, after 15 years, it doesn’t feel like a struggle to slide back into teaching. Traveling does not unnerve me, (well not usually, unless something crazy happens!) rather, it gives me a sense of big picture. The challenges of a regular day at home become much less important. I am able to see how everything really needs time to play out. The challenges in a yoga practice need to be there. There is no way around them. The challenge for me as a teacher and especially as a teacher of teachers-in-training, is to resist the urge to rush ahead; to give more information or advice before the person is ready; to trust that it will all come together. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea in all other situations as well?
I am a parent, a wife, a business owner, a yoga practitioner, and many other things. In all facets of my life, I have needed to learn to have patience. Buddhist philosophy teaches us to sit with uncomfortable feelings and emotions without changing or reacting. This is an incredibly difficult thing to do. The idea is, I believe, to give each experience our full attention and respect without feeling that some experiences are less worthy than others. Lessons and growth don’t only occur with positive experiences. Quite the opposite, the experiences that have taught me the most were some of the worst experiences of my life. In teacher training, it is also a challenge for me to allow others to sit with their own emotions without feeling responsible for changing them.
The practice of breath control, or pranayama, is a method for maintaining a sense of patience, observation, and steadiness no matter what is going on around us. At O2, we practice Ujjayi breath during the asanas. In teacher training, the first thing I teach is the breath and how to maintain the focus on it during a led practice. It all seems very technical and rigid at first, but the real experience of steady breath for an entire 90 minutes can be life altering, especially if practiced regularly.
I believe that I have become more patient over the years. I hope that is true. Do I still get distracted by little silly things? Of course. Do I still lose my mind and freak out from time to time? For sure. Do I believe that practicing pranayama helps me to be nicer, kinder, more patient, happier, steadier, and more focused? Absolutely. Inhale, Exhale, and them keep going……….Peace, Mimi