Day 20 of my Moksha teachers training, I don't know where the time has gone. It is hard to believe we are more than half way through. In our first week when we were trying to adjust to what seemed like a grueling schedule it appeared as if time was standing still. Now in our third week; 5 am wake ups, 3 asana practices a day, several hours of lectures and walking to and from the studio has become a welcomed routine that is now second nature in my body.
I would have loved to have captured my thoughts and feelings from the amazing lectures and "aha" moments that have happened so far, but exhaustion usually extinguished all thoughts of dong anything more that eating and sleeping when the day was done. That was until today when one of my sangha members gave a presentation that left me speechless and reflecting on my own presence in this world. Lisa, for the sake of protecting her identity, started her presentation by discussing a moment in history that she bore witness to and changed the lives of many of us. Lisa did not dwell on what lead to the actions of 19 individuals that day or the devastation that she saw but instead she discussed the role we all played in what happened. Lisa described her theory as "owning our shit". We may not have sat and devised the scheme that forever changed the lives of many but on a smaller scale our inaction everyday in matters that we can change is just as harmful. As taken a back as I was today by no means did I think Lisa was trying to make a comparison and neither am I but I totally get where she was coming from. How we show up every day and our inability to take responsibility for our own actions or lack there of has more of an effect on the world than we think. Everyday we hear of atrocities occurring throughout the world, some closer to home than others. Besides an empathetic sigh what have we done? What have I done?
Today I felt the embarrassment of my inaction and witnessed a similar reaction in the rest of my sangha members, I realized that this journey we are on is so much bigger than learning to teach yoga. It is about learning to take our yoga off our mats and into world so that we could create change. Fifty six warriors of peace all willing to own our shit and with any luck, teach others to own theirs as well.
Have you ever noticed how fluffy the clouds can be at times? While driving to Montreal I was completely fascinated by them. It was as if I was seeing them for the first time since my childhood. As a child I remember laying in the grass with my friends at recess and starring up into the clouds trying to make out shapes. We could spend hours letting our imagination run wild. It wasn't until this drive to Montreal that I remembered what that felt like. Random thought I know, but this is just one of the many thoughts running through my head as I lay here in this foreign bed in the middle of downtown Montreal. As this thought passes I am struck with the realization that as foreign as this place may feel right now it will be my home for the next month. This is the first time in my life that I am living on my own without any family nearby and of course I pick a city where English is not the first language. Even though I am nervous and yes, a bit scared. There is still a sense of excitement and liberation about this journey I am about to embark on. Hmmm, how fitting is it that Moksha means freedom in Sanskrit?
As I sit here writing this post, it is exactly one week before I leave for my yoga teacher training in Montreal. The last year, nine months and two weeks leading up to this moment has been a roller coaster of emotions. There have been many days and nights of self doubt of whether it is too late in life to be trying to follow this dream or I am being a horrible mother by putting my desires before my children. One of my biggest fears is whether I am cut out to be teaching yoga? I counter these thoughts by telling myself that a dream could never become reality without an attempt; it is only 30 days of their entire lives and my kids will be fine with their father; and when you love something as much as I do yoga, the tools you need to share it will be provided by God and the universe. Even though I know these things to be true I am still nervous as hell, but I guess that is normal.
This week I have been really preoccupied with getting ready but I have also been trying to stop and take in every moment. Sometimes when we take a moment to be still we catch the signs that arrive is subtle messages to comfort us. This week those signs came in the form of an unexpected message from a friend, comforting words from a stranger and incredible support from my Sangha family. I am so happy that I took the time to acknowledge these moments. They have definitely helped me. Before I go I wanted to share an analogy that came to me. For the last week I have likened my nervousness to the term butterflies in my stomach. Then I thought to myself when a butterfly starts out it is a caterpillar. Cute and fuzzy but not necessarily appealing. However that caterpillar takes it time and endures it metamorphosis to come out on the other side of change as a beautiful butterfly. Really and truly, that is all that I could hope for in my training.
In preparation for teacher's training later this year I decided that I would venture out of the comfort zone of my usual yoga practice and try something different. For awhile now I have been rotating between the same two studios with the occasional home practice when my schedule just won't stretch anymore to make it out of the house. Don't get me wrong I love my studios and the teachers I have gravitated to. Not to mention, since my 30 day challenge a few months back, I have managed to maintain a fairly regular practice with this routine. However with any routine one can find themselves in a "rut", even with yoga.
In the spirit of changing things up I decided to attend an Ashtanga class yesterday at my studio. In the past I have tried a couple of Ashtanga classes but definitely not enough to consider myself versed in the practice. Also I had never practiced with the teacher leading this particular class. My first thoughts were that this would be a refreshing change.
The afternoon unfortunately did not start off the way I had hoped. To begin with I was on nights and had an awful sleep (nothing new on the first night shift). Then organizing dinner for the kids prior to class was not as smooth as it could be, which lead to me getting to the studio with just enough time to change and get into the hot room. Not good. Shortly after settling down on my mat in walks Eric, our instructor for the next 75 minutes. Eric seemed pleasant enough with a gentle confidence. I immediately had a good feeling about this class. Sigh...how soon things can change.
Well Eric is clearly a man of action because he wasted no time. He started the class with a serious of vinyasana flows holding each posture for a few seconds. Not only were we holding the postures but working through them in reverse order as well. Needless to say within the first ten minutes of class my body was screaming WTH! This is where the phrase "be careful what you ask for" comes in handy. Change is what I was looking for and it is definitely what I got. Being a very determined individual I forged ahead. Funny thing about yoga is that it is never without its lessons. As I bent, stretched and twisted trying to keep up with the class I felt my ego grow louder and my self confidence shrink. It was like I was attempting yoga for the first time. I welcomed the familiar poses when they came in and attempt to try and gain some sort of confidence that I knew what I was doing. However by the 105th vinyasana flow (a slight exaggeration), even downward dog felt foreign.
Eric being the skilled and thoughtful teacher came by my mat and gentle adjusted and encouraged whenever he could. Each time he came by we shared a chuckled. At that point it was good that I could laugh at my awkwardness as there was not much else I could do. During the class when I was not stumbling through the postures I watched the array of students who were in the class. They ranged in all different ages. It was easy to tell that some of them had taken Eric's class before. I am sure there were some who were stumbling their way through the same as I but my ego never focused on those individuals.
As the class neared the end I was so happy that I made it through. It may not have been pretty but I completed the class. As I thankfully lay there in savansa I decided to concentrate on the positives. I was looking for a shake up to my routine and I found it. This class not only shook up my routine but it brought me back to when I first started yoga and the vulnerability one feels in a class where there are people more experienced than them. It's good every so often to humbly be reminded that we are all constantly learning.
One of my favourite quotes is "it's what you learn after you know it all that counts." This definitely was the case when it came to my ashtanga class with Eric, and I am grateful for the lesson. Sore muscles and all!
One of the intentions that I set for myself this year was to spend more time focusing on my passions and the things that bring me happiness. One of those things is yoga. It has changed my life and my perspective as cliche as that may sound. Yoga is not just an asana practice that I perform to keep me in shape. It is not just a means of relieving the stress of my job, family or finances. Nor is it because of the cute clothes, even though they really are cute. Yoga has become a way of life. A principal that I can use any time even when I am off the mat to conquer my fears, clear my mind and focus my thoughts. Oh yeah, and keep myself in shape.
When you find something that speaks to you, you want to learn all you can about it. You want to submerge yourself within it and share it with others, in hopes that they too will feel the same way you do. I figured the best way to accomplish all of this would be to become a Moksha yoga teacher. As scary as this thought was for me I knew it was something that I desired to do. So I spent the last year preparing myself. My first step was to "submerge" by becoming an energy exchange student at MYSO. During the year that I volunteered I really came to understand the incredible support that is the Moksha Sangha (community). This support is felt from the owners, the teachers and the other members of the community. I also learned a lot about running a studio and the delicate balance of giving to others without allowing yourself to be taken. While my year as an EE was absolutely amazing, I found that I was not getting in as much time as I would like on my personal practice so I reluctantly ended my volunteer time and moved on to the next step, learning.
This year being my year of change, I felt in my heart it was the best time to apply for Moksha teacher's training. Even though I was not sure when the training would be held I had a rough idea and started preparing myself to attend the training in September if it was available. My first hurdle was to arrange my holiday in such a way that I would only have to use 3 weeks of leave to cover the 30 days of training. The catch was this was all happening while my work place was under going a new shift pilot. After miraculously acquiring the perfect vacation coverage I submitted my application at the end of February. I then spent 3 weeks agonizing and stalking my own email account before I got the reply my heart was hoping for. An email congratulating me on being accepted into the training program this fall.
While I still have a long road ahead to achieve my goal it is important to acknowledge that without clearly stating what I want and putting my intention out into the universe, I may not have reached as far as I am right now. It truly feels as if the universe (God) was working along side me and slowly each obstacle started falling into place. As beautiful as this sounds there is an unpleasant side as well. It is important to know that not everyone is going to understand or accept your dreams and you may have to change your circle to include people who support you and eliminate those who are hindering you. As long as you know in your heart what you want the only person stopping you is yourself. So what are you waiting for? Start speaking those intentions into fruition.