Monday, July 9, 2018

Yoga Teacher Training: Setting an Intention of Discipline

I am heading into my fourth week of teacher training and am taking some time to reflect on the first few weeks. We had week three off for the holiday and spent that week in a self-study, so I have really been thinking a lot about the first two weeks we spent together.

During the second week, we had a guest lecturer come in and speak about the history and philosophy of yoga. This lecture confirmed some things I already knew about the history of yoga, but also taught me a lot about yoga as a philosophical practice to be practiced in everyday life. I began practicing yoga a few years ago with my friend Dominique and continued to practice mostly for the physical aspects. About a year ago, I was taking a class with a teacher who was really focused on being present in the moment and that was the first time the mental component of yoga really clicked for me. It took a few years of my practicing to begin to unravel the mental and other non-physical benefits of practicing yoga, even then at a high level.

In week two we were introduced to Pantajali's Eight Limbs of Yoga and focused on the first two limbs, the Yamas and Niyamas. I should note that there are many translations and interpretations of Pantajali's Eight Limbs of Yoga, and I am simply sharing one interpretation. The Yamas can be thought of as moral restrictions for everyday living and how we interact with others, and the Niyamas can be thought of as guidelines for healthy and moral living. I don't want to get into all of them in this post, but a brief intro to them can be found here.

In our teacher training session, I described the Yamas and Niyamas as answers to the question of how can I be a good person? They advise us to be non-harming, truthful, non-stealing, and to have discipline, among other things. It is the Niyama of "tapas" meaning discipline in this context that I have decided to set as my intention for the duration of teacher training. Oftentimes, during yoga classes, you are invited to set an intention for your practice that day. An intention can be whatever you might be hoping to achieve in practice that day, like balance, or something you are seeking outside of the studio, like balance.

In setting an intention of discipline, I am hoping to keep myself focused during this busy time. As mentioned in my last post, teacher training has me in a classroom for about 9 hours a week, on top of attending about 4-7 yoga classes per week (my choice, not a requirement). To finish teacher training successfully, I need to remember that the time consuming aspects of are not forever, simply time I need to put in to get the outcome I want - to be a certified yoga instructor. Outside of teacher training, I am channeling tapas in my spending habits, trying to aggressively pay down a student loan, and in my diet, trying to tame a sweet tooth. Oh, and of course, in training for my half marathon in September. I've got a month and a half left of teacher training and I am excited to see what I can achieve in this short period of time through discipline.

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