Yoga Teacher Training-Episode 5

The last blog posts about my yoga teacher training were a review of the asana and philosophy practice, but this blog post will be different. I don’t feel like writing a summary of these last 3 days, I feel more like writing how I’ve experienced this intensive training from a mental, physical and emotional point of view.

We started on Friday 4pm again and I was so happy to go back to the yoga teacher training. At the same time, I realised that the completion was about to get closer, so I don’t really know if it was pressure I felt or excitement. Maybe both.

Nevertheless, once I stepped into the yoga studio and sat down onto my mat, I just felt ‘home’. I’ve been practicing yoga many times per week, in the studio or at home, but being in this peaceful and protected environment again, just made me feel at home, silent and loved.

We did loads of forward bends on Friday and whilst I’ve been making massive progress on going deeper into the poses, especially in Uttanasana, I really felt my hamstrings and my inner thighs working, to make a long story short, I could feel my entire body working. I don’t know how you feel about physical work, but I love it. I simply love it. I love it from a physical point of view to go further, and I don’t mean pushing myself into poses, nevertheless, yes, I am challenging my body by practicing and executing the poses properly, by really working those muscles, by being in proper alignment and trust me, doing that, builds up loads of heat in our bodies. And then again the challenging yoga poses reflect life for me. That’s the mental and emotional aspect.

The 2nd and 3rd day focused on backbends. I am not the kind of person that you would call bendy. Bendy Nina probably wouldn’t be my nickname, but you can call me Ninja. I had respect for backbends especially for the wheel, Urdvha Danurasana. Since childhood, and until I started practicing yoga, I’ve not been doing the wheel or bridge at all. Simply because I didn’t really like it and I thought – for whatever reason – that I cannot do it. Here we go: another limiting belief that I imposed on myself. The good news is with being on the yoga way, I realise just how much more I’m trying out, I say yes to things way more often, I experiment more, I am just offering even more openness.

This life attitude made me realise that I’ve actually got a good chest opening and that I am pretty ‘strong’, but there is definitely still potential in my shoulder opening. After day 2, I was so physically exhausted (but happy), that I just ran myself a bath with some herbal salt that my closest friend got me as a present from Peru. I listened to a podcast about health and essential oils whilst relaxing in the bath tub and I noticed just how happy and grateful I was.

I started day 3 with feeling literally every single muscle in my body, especially the ones that very obviously I’ve not been using a lot or intensively enough. Getting out of bed this morning was not easy, I felt my hamstrings, my quadriceps, my triceps, my hip flexors, and the area between my shoulder blades. Phew, plus I knew that today’s practice will lead to Urdhva Danurasana as peak pose.

We started the training with a lovely opening. It always grounds me, it gets me to my happy place. Literally 10 minutes later and an intensive warm up – especially for shoulder and chest opening – I had built an immense heat in my body. And yes I had seconds of thinking ‘Why is this so damn hard?’ but the next second I focused on my breath again thinking

Wow, it’s incredible what my body is capable of.

I felt so strong and empowered mentally that I was able to work even deeper into my muscles, because I was flooded by positive energy. We did an intensive training of 3 hours in total repeating forearm stand (Pincha Mayurasana) as prep pose and then reaching our peak pose, the wheel. First of all, I held the forearm stand for a satisfactory duration, but secondly I was so so so happy to be able to go into the wheel, whilst applying the correct technique. Trust me, if you do work it properly, it’s really an intense and advanced pose. If you don’t work it properly, it is still an intense pose, but there is a risk of injury (like in any other pose), so please be careful. This practice made me feel empowered, self-confident, content and strong and it definitely proofed my point of being open to new things, playing around and just trusting myself that I can do this.

Trust yourself. You can do this.

We finished the practice with a beautiful Savasana, gosh, how I love this asana and my teacher’s closing words were

I trust myself and life that all I need to know is already within me.

Match! I left into lunch break feeling very happy despite the physical exhaustion. After lunch, we continued with yoga philosophy and the Yoga Sutra. We talked about the 3 Gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas), how everything existent is a combination of these 3 qualities, and how the gunas affect our mind (Chitta). It’s like a rainbow. A rainbow wouldn’t be a rainbow with only one colour. No, it needs 7 colours, whilst each colour shows up in different intensity. The same principle applies to the Gunas in Chitta. However, the closer we get to Sattva or even beyond, the less we are being controlled by our ego, which in return leads to a calmer mind.

Since Friday, I wished for a Yoga Nidra session with our yoga philosophy teacher Ralph Skuban.  And when he wasn’t sure today whether to continue with the topic Chitta, I suggested a Yoga Nidra session. He said yes and led us through a wonderful Yoga Nidra journey.

And for the first time, I experienced something truly beautiful. The left side of my body felt like it was lifting off the floor, like it was floating, being very light, whilst at the same time, my right side felt totally grounded, touching the floor.

And I happily realised that I was coming closer and closer to a sattvik mind symbolising light, ease and clarity in life. I hadn’t realised just how emotional I was about this experience, until I left my closest friend an audio message on Whats App with tears in my eyes.

I would like to conclude this article with the following words:

I feel truly grateful for my yoga path, as it is leading me to my true self.

Yours, Nina

 

Yoga Teacher Training-Episode 3

Here we go, I will give you my insights about episode 3 of my yoga teacher training. No, episode 3 didn’t take place at the beach, but I wanted to feature an image that I love, with a mood that I love, in a place that I love, for something that I love doing. Yoga.

Day 1: Episode 3 (have you read about episode 1 and 2 yet?) started on Friday afternoon, kicked off with a 90 minute yoga practice. We obviously didn’t know what peak pose we were working towards, but all we knew pretty soonish is that it’s going to be hard. We did lots of hamstring and hip flexor stretches, so suddenly it became clear. Peak pose = Hanumanasana (Splits). Whilst I’m aware of the all the benefits this pose has on offer, I’m simply not there yet, I’m still coping with the steps before, and I’m afraid I cannot see any benefits as yet. Now, I must say that my hips and my groins have been feeling quite stiff for the last months, so anything hip opening related is quite hard work for me at the moment. However, I’m confident that with the yoga teacher training, the right stretches and support through my osteopath, I will be able to ‘heal’ this part of my body and eventually, it will losen up.

After the sweaty asana practice, we had a break and did some revision of last week’s poses. We repeated the Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) assists plus added on the assists for Trikonasana and Parsvokanasana. Loads of input, but endlessly valuable. I’m so grateful for all I’m experiencing during my teacher training, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Day 2: I’m getting up at 7.30am, so that I have sufficient time for a good breakfast, since this day starts with theory instead of yoga practice, so I might as well have a big bowl of porridge. We read about inversions, such as handstand, headstand and forearm stand, so that in the afternoon we are ‘ready’ to go into our inversion practice. I must admit that I’ve been super excited about this part of the YTT. I have of course done these poses before, but I have never really learned it in that much detail, so I was curious to find out more about my body, my physical reactions as well as my feelings afterwards.

I always thought that I’m quite tight in my sternal and shoulders, and that I’m not able to open this body part properly during the inversion training. However, it turned out I did pretty well. I was beyond excited, trust me, to find out that I’m actually capable to do these asanas. And again, we talk about limiting beliefs. Limiting thoughts. Limiting emotions. I’m glad that generally speaking I like trying new things. The same in this case. After the warm up, I was keen to know, keen to try everything. And I absolutely loved the inversion training. It is challenging, yes. But it’s majorly fun and exciting. It is literally a change of perspective. And honestly speaking, we should all have a change of perspective way more often.

Take down your limiting beliefs. Embrace change instead.

After this challenging and exciting day, I’m heading home, feeling exhausted, yet so happy and grateful. And ready for a hot bath. Sleeping at 10pm. Fabulous!

Day 3: The training commenced at 9am. Since I went to bed early, I felt really good when the alarm went off. Plus I have a new morning routine that I’m looking forward to, because it means I can relax in bed for another 15 minutes. I do some stretches directly in bed, like child’s pose (Balasana), stretches for my hip flexor and cat-cow pose. It is nice and I can only recommend you a similar morning routine, especially when you feel stiff when waking up and also when you are struggling to get out of bed. Find something that excites you and puts you in a positive mood in the morning. A couple of months ago for example I danced for 5 minutes to feel refreshed and bright. I switched on my favourite song on Spotify and off I went, ahem danced. Just as a suggestion, it does help me, so it might help you, too. Back to the YTT. We started with a 90 minute practice again focusing on warming up our lower back, shoulders and chest, so that we can go deeper into more inversions and also backbends. Glad we focused on a different body part, since I could really feel my hamstrings and my hip flexor from the Friday session, phew.

The second part of the session consisted of corrections, assists and some theory by working through our script. We then went into groups of 4 people to do practice-teach of Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (shoulder bridge) and Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand). We learned some techniques on how to teach these poses to a beginner class, for example by using the wall, and tools such as blankets to really support the shoulders. Most of us in the group said that they have never learned it like this before, so it was indeed helpful and very valuable to look into these poses in more detail. Thank you, Nella!

We finished the weekend with a beautifully relaxing Savasana and a strengthening meditation speaking to ourselves:

I trust myself and life that all I need to know is already within me.

On this note, trust yourself. Love yourself. Be yourself.

Yours, Nina