I have to admit that during Teacher Training I was a very bad student of Yoga.
My main concern at that time was exploring the wonders of what I could do with my body and learning how to guide others to do the same. I skipped the philosophy homework because I felt that it was taking time away from my physical practice and slowing me down from reaching my goals.
My mentor obviously knew what was going on and said to the class (glancing at me), “Even if you pull on just one little corner of your Yoga mat, the rest of the mat will follow, whether you intend for it to or not.”
At the time, I wasn’t sure if that actually applied to me, but I did know that I wasn’t ready yet.
In Yogic tradition, the main purpose of asana (yoga poses) is to prepare the body for meditation. The basic theory is that creating a strong back and supple legs allows one to sit in comfortable stillness for long periods of time. But for me and many others, there is much more to it than that.
Practicing physical asana effectively clears blockages in the body and opens up paths for energy to flow through, whether you are aware that this is happening or not—I wasn’t. I was, however, very aware of the changes that were happening in my mind. As I became stronger and more flexible in my body, I started believing in myself more and began to be more open to new ideas and experiences.
I started to believe with some residual hesitation, that anything is possible.
At a time not too long ago that I can’t pinpoint or remember, I instinctively knew that I had to take things to the next level.
I was finally ready to do my philosophy homework.
I began with a group meditation class, feeling that I needed all the help I could get with the seemingly impossible task of clearing all thoughts from my mind.
This first group session gave me exactly what I needed—a space with no distractions, reassurance that I was “doing it right,” the support and understanding of like-minded people and most importantly, the hint that meditation can potentially be so much more than just quieting the mental chatter.
After a few more sessions I became aware that meditation offers a rare opportunity to spend time alone with my soul—the essence of who I am—or rather, who I was before life on the physical plane took over. And really, the only way you can get to know “someone” is to spend time with them.
When I walked into my first Yoga class a few years back my intention was to get my body back into shape and to once again be able to do the things I could do as a kid. I had no idea that it would eventually lead me all the way back to the start.
Now, when people walk into my classes with the intention of working on their core, I often get a sense of those who really need to engage their core. Sometimes I plant seeds and mention my positive experiences with meditation and most of the time I feel like it is dismissed; but, I understand from my own path that everyone is at a different place and people need to be ready for it.
So the best that I, or any other teacher, can do is work to open the pathways in their body that will eventually lead them to their soul.
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Asst. Ed.: Kathleen O’Hagan/Ed: Sara Crolick
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