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Monday, October 20, 2014

Yoga Teacher Training ~ Day 11

Completed the first 100-hour yesterday. Phew! It really was tough. And this is only the first half. Only yesterday morning when I was on my way to the studio (around 6am) I was contemplating on not returning for Part II in January ... to be honest, I wasn't looking forward to another "morning intensive" and, err, "test" later in the day. Like, why am I putting myself through this? Is it necessary?

Flying Pigeon

Then I got on the mat and course instructor said the morning practice was to focus on arm balance poses ... I was, like, okay cool ... I prefer these poses (most of which I can perform) than, say, parsarita padottanasana (standing wide legged forward fold)... no, my head cannot touch the floor and it's quite painful to hold this pose for, like, a min, let alone five... anyway, we went from one pose to another (a bit of a blur now) but apparently we did at least 15 arm balancing poses. For me though, the high point was when I could do the eka pada galavasana (well, kinda doing it...but I can now hook my foot onto my arm!) because I couldn't do that only a week ago. So what happened? My guess is because the regimental routine had helped build strength as well as perhaps I had a better alignment. I felt my body was so ... opened ... that, yesterday, I could do a lot of poses that I'd previously thought v challenging... it was as if I wasn't in my own body (isn't that totally weird?) But I have to say by the end of the day I was COMPLETELY exhausted (hence I didn't blog last night). The challenge ahead is definitely how I can maintain this physical and mental form until, like, next January.

Well, the programme does ensure we continue to practise in the coming three months: we have to practise at least twice a week (which is fine) in open classes, at least twice privately as well as teach at least ONCE a week. There is also a lot of reading to do.

And because course instructor was quite encouraging when we said our temporary good-byes, so I just might return to Part II next January (all depends on whether I can wholeheartedly do my homework in the next few months....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Yoga Teacher Training ~ Day Nine

Today is less satisfying and I wonder how many of my classmates really understood what was going on in the workshop on alignment principles. I don't think my team partner knew what he was doing and to be fair to him, I didn't have a clue either. 

But first, the day started off quite poorly cos I felt physically exhausted this morning (@ 4.30 am). Whether it's accumulated fatigue I'm not sure but I do think the course is taking its toll on me physically. I cannot help but wonder whether this programme is being physically tough just for the sake of it? At times I also feel like we are being treated like a bunch of school kids when all we (most responsible, mature adults) want to do is to learn more about deepening our yoga practice and having the discipline is only one of the many aspects. Yoga IS about discipline. Fine, we get it. Yoga is about having the right alignment ... and the discipline of keeping ourselves aligned, lot of hard work. We get that too. Now can we move on? We totally get it that our instructor is a serious yogi and he himself has pushed limits to better his practice. Well, good for him, but some of us are not as uncompromising (his own term) in our approach to our practice as he is in his. If that works for him great ... but kinda thrusting that down our throat is a different thing. I'm just a bit too old for that kinda ... cit. 

I do enjoy his teachings on, and interpretations of, the several yogic philosophies, with a focus on Tantric Yoga. All the stuff about divinity residing in all of us is fascinating and we can only catch our moments of "clarity" and "grace" through an aligned practice. I think that is what it means.

Anyway, gotta start revising (yes...) cos there is a test tomorrow, the final day of the first 100-hour teacher training programme. Am I thrilled? Hardly to be honest. And I thought yoga is supposed to release stress, not piling it on!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yoga Teacher Training ~ Day Eight

Have to admit the initial frustration I had with this training programme has mostly evaporated. Having now practised - hard - every morning for two hours over eight days, I feel my body has become a lot stronger. I can now slip into (proper) Virabhadrasansa II, Ardha Chandrasana or even Sirsasana without much problem (okay, fessing up, I have NOT been practising regularly the past 2-3 months). Though I still disagree with some of the stuff our instructor has been saying about yoga/ practice (he's for too military in my humble opinion), I think his teaching does work. This morning he showed us how to get into Urdhva Dhanurasana and I felt totally LIGHT in this pose (which I find totally incredible and amazing). 

But the real challenge is now ahead. There is a two-month gap in between now and the next 100-hour training session. So in the meantime, I will HAVE TO have much self discipline to practise every day, at home. Only then can I really stay in the same physical condition I am in now. I will also need to go over the set one-hour class sequence again and again and again until I'm super familiar with it. Only then will I be able to pass the course next January. I'm just SO worried that once work starts I'll lapse back into the state of slackness again...
Discipline and Focus!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yoga Teacher Training ~ Day Six

Laptop went into service (finally upgraded to Windows 7 from XP!) so wasn't able to blog about my yoga teacher training until today. 

So what exactly have I got myself into?

This is a 200-hour Yoga Alliance Accredited Teacher Training Programme that is billed by my local studio as a foundation course that prepares keen yoga practitioners/ students to teach. It does warn that the course "will require a strong commitment and personal sacrifice, as well as the support of the student's primary support network. We emphasise that this programme may not be for everyone." I'm taking the first 100 hours this month and will complete the entire programme next January. And I've survived 60 hours.  


Getting up every morning @ 5.30am in order to attend a two-hour morning intensive practice actually hasn't been that bad. The session itself is challenging but fun, and fellow students and I do find ourselves learning a lot about not only our own practice (we've been doing some of the poses wrong) but also ourselves. Most of my classmates are, like myself, keen to learn more about "yoga" and don't really have plans to teach (not in the immediate future anyway). But I think therein also lies the problem because I think the head of the programme does (quite rightly so) expect us to be ... more committed. It really is like going back to school. He drills us everyday that we must give our practice 200%, focus, focus, focus and that we must be really, really serious about yoga... learning to chant and all the poses in Sanskrit. 

Sanskrit?

Oh yes. So, downward facing dog is adho mukha svanasana, warrior 1 is virabhadrasana 1, and hand to big toe pose is uttitha hasta padangustasana. Like, what?!? 

Basically, yoga is about suffering (apparently) ... and without which we won't be able to savor the fruits of the ... suffering. It's very Indian (?) and how yogic...

There is also a bit of yogic philosophy and anatomy thrown into the mix. As well as an one-hour sequence that we must all learn by heart by the end of the course. And this sequence is pretty detailed ... like, step you right foot forward, place your back knee on the floor, bend your left elbow and hook that onto your right knee, hands in prayer position and twist. It's THAT detailed. For 60 mins. I guess that will come in useful should I wanna share my practice with my friends.  

Have to say there is a slight discrepancy between my and their expectations of what the course is but will try my best to learn, without stressing self out.  

Okay, bed time! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Yoga Training ~ the Preparation

Okay, will have to put down Sen no Kesike II for awhile.

The yoga teacher training course that I signed up for earlier this year will (finally) start in a couple of days. I feel both excited and anxious: am I physically, psychologically, intellectually and spiritually up to it?? While the course also promises to be a journey of discovery: "You will learn how to listen to the dictates of your own spirit and learn how to be amazed by who you are, what you can do, and what your potential is". Hmm, I think I need a bit of self assurance/ confidence cos at my/any workplace there are always people who undermine others (so to justify their own self importance) and the arrogance on display can be overwhelming to say the least (some don't even know that themselves). Anyway, I shall remain humble ... I actually am hoping that by the end of the first 100 hours, I will feel motivated enough to give up work!!



The course is actually quite intensive; everyday starts @ 7am with meditation, breathing and physical practice for two hours, a break, then 10am to 6pm to "study" ... that is an awfully long time to be studying!!! There are some set texts including The Bhagavad Gita and Light on Life by the late BSK Iyengar. Have to say I tried reading them and they are pretty tough going (and I'd studied Eng Lit as a student!) The Anusara Teacher Training Manual is pretty fun to read though (though this particular yoga style isn't really my thing)...

Over the next two weeks I will be blogging about my experience & basic insight, and I hope I will come out of the first half of the training being able to share what I've learnt with my friends.