This weekend marked the start of the yoga teacher training program I’m participating in at Yoga on York in Baltimore. The class is taught by owner and advanced instructor Jayne Bernasconi. Over the past few weeks, leading up to the start date, I experienced a range of emotions from excitement to nervousness to pure joy. But the intention I set for myself coming into it was to be present. So instead of worrying about all the if’s, ands and buts, I’d simply be living in the moment. At least, that was the goal. This was (and is) an important part of the journey for me not only so that I could absorb as much as humanely possibly from the program, but so I could engage fully in an important yogic philosophy.
There’s a saying I’ve often thought about. “If you’re depressed, you’re living in the past. If you’re anxious, you’re living on the future. Contentment means living in the present.” While I feared being away from my family and young daughter for so many hours at a time (much more than her or I are used to) knowing this place was where I was supposed to be and that my past experiences led me here for a reason proved my greatest encouragement. So I didn’t spend the weekend thinking about my family or wishing I was somewhere else and in turn, I was far more grateful than I expected to be exactly where I was.
So gratitude turned out to be a big theme for me, as well. Though my focus was largely on what was going on in the class, certain topics brought me back to how grateful I am for my life and my husband and daughter. I wasn’t dwelling on those thoughts, just acknowledging them and letting them drift away. But I think it’s possible that having this experience may make me more grounded, yet appreciative of the unconditional love I’m given on a daily basis. Either way, it’s something I hope to come back to and continue to think about in the coming months (and beyond).
Over the course of the weekend, we touched on a variety of topics that I spend a great deal of time thinking about and wanting to learn more about. To feel like a student again- like there is so much knowledge to tap into and it’s right at my fingertips is thrilling because this is something that I feel so connected to. Because we are learning about things that I have a great interest in, I’m happy to listen and take notes and develop a greater understanding. We practiced yoga, of course, learned a number of asanas (postures) and their sanskrit names. We learned how to instruct, verbally cue and adjust students appropriately. We learned the seven chakras (energy centers) of the body, practiced chanting and meditation. While it’s certainly a lot to digest, linking the practice with the philosophy somehow makes it easier to absorb. While the names of the asanas are long and sometimes difficult to pronounce, I’m glad to learn their true names and meanings. It brings more truth into the postures. Our instructor noted, sometimes knowing the meaning of the name helps you visualize and often perform it more dutifully. I think this is a good way to think about the names of these postures which do so much for my body and will surely help me to understand them in a new way.
Over the next month, before the class meets again, I have a lot of work to do (and a lot to take in). I’ll be reading, growing my home practice, attending more classes than I’m used to (given those in the teacher training program are invited to attend classes for free) as well as memorizing the names of the asanas. It may be a long road until I’m a yoga teacher, but after this weekend, it looks like one I can march down with confidence. To quote one student (who was in fact, quoting an instructor in a rather operatic tone) “I am not the body! I am not the mind!” While it was quoted in humor, there is truth at the heart of it. But if we are not the body and not the mind, what are we? That’s what I intend to discover.
Sarah Bregel is a mother, a writer, a women’s personal trainer and the creator of BHealthyBmore.com. She loves yoga, food and wine, and believes “everything in moderation” is the best advice in the world. She lives in Mount Washington with her husband, Marshall and their daughter, Piper.