July 31, 2012

Five Things Yoga Teacher Training Has Taught Me So Far. ~ Carolyn Gilligan

I am so thankful for my yoga teacher training experience.

It is with an overwhelming amount of gratitude that I write this. Gratitude for my teacher training, for my teacher training leader, for all of my truly amazing fellow trainees, for all that I have learned, for the studio, for my practice and for that brief God sent moment of complete courage to send the e-mail and apply for the training despite my self-doubt that I wasn’t good enough or ready or any of that other—excuse my language—bullshit.

I signed up for yoga teacher training expecting to learn all of the technicals of how to lead a yoga class. I was prepared to study sequencing, theming, alignment, adjustments, pranayama and memorizing Sanskrit names for the asanas. Surely enough, we have dedicated entire weekends to doing just that.

What I was not expecting was a much needed attitude adjustment and a miraculous shift in my perception. On an existential level, I have come away with so much more and that is:

1. Let it go. We hold on to so much, but we don’t have to. Let go of the fear and doubt and worry. Let go of expectation. Let go of what happened yesterday, this morning or five minutes ago. Stop pushing, pulling, doubting, analyzing and thinking so much. When we let go, we can fill up. Fill up with breath, love, friendliness, compassion and gratitude.

2. Stay. When you’ve been holding Warrior II for what feels like days and your front quad is starting to shake and bake and the salt from your sweat that is uncontrollably cascading down your forehead into your eye sockets, temporarily blinds you, and surely your shoulders are going to collapse and your arms are going to fall off completely, stay. The same goes for our relationships with ourselves, our significant others, our lovers, our friends. When difficulty and discomfort arises, stay committed. Be patient. Be compassionate. You are immensely stronger than you think you are.

3. “You stop trying to fix yourself and start being yourself.” ~ Baron Baptiste.

This one speaks for itself.

4. Our happiness is not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to it. Life is full of broken hearts and broken bones—that is just part of this beautifully wild ride. Everywhere, everyday we are confronted with our fate. You can try to resist—kick it in the face and scream at it at the tippy top of your pretty little lungs—but you can not stop the universe from unraveling as it should.

While we can’t choose our fate, we can chose our reaction to fate. We can choose our attitude and and we can choose our thoughts. We can remain steadfast in our commitment to hope. We can have unyielding, fiercely ferocious courage to shoulder our suffering with grace. We can keep our hearts wide open and love more. We can choose to smile. We can choose to be happy. The universe, your God, whatever higher power you choose to place your faith in, it supports you. So put your feet up on the dash, lean back and let the universe do her sweet thang.

5. You are ready now. I never feel ready. I always feel like I need more preparation. More studying, more research, more practice, more, more, more. I didn’t feel like I was ready enough to take my training, but I took the leap of faith and that has turned out marvelously. Sometimes you just have to stop preparing and procrastinating, put on your big girl shoes and fake it til you make it.


Carolyn Gilligan is a daughter, sister, best friend, listener, lover, ice cream eater, sometimes writer, easily excitable, embarrassingly gullible yoga teacher in training who drinks too much coffee, makes a lot of mistakes and has too much fun for her own good.



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