Teacher training has been great so far this week. Yesterday and today we began the sessions with a class in the studio. In a repeat of last week, the Friday evening class was difficult for me, but the class this morning was great.
Friday night I was feeling off balance. The teacher's breath counts were very fast, so I had trouble finding my groove without falling too far behind the rest of the class. It didn't help that I had a hell of time getting to the studio on time... unexpected road construction... isn't that always the case. Grrr. Anyway, I had had a hectic day, and I needed a slower paced class. Instead we were whirring through complicated standing sequences that lasted 20 minutes on a single side. I'm not dissing the teacher or the method here -- I like her and the sequences were dynamic and creative -- it's just that I've worked hard to develop a long, slow breath. It's frustrating that it seems to complicate my experience in a class environment. I know that I should just go at my own pace, but then I end up having to completely skip poses to catch up with the class.
After the class last night, we reconvened downstairs and did more practice teaching, running each other through a series of setting up the breath, tai chi warm ups, and then a sun salutation A. It went really well and I got to play with some different use of language, different ways of cuing the same movement for different results. Very educational. After the session, I got a nasty headache... maybe a delayed reaction from the stressful class. I was trying to study, but my mind was so fuzzy that I couldn't focus for two seconds, so I rolled out my mat and did an hour or so of restorative yoga.... And voila! Headache gone. Let's all chalk another point up for yoga!
Thankfully, the class this morning was much better. Different teacher, very different class... though not so different in the nature of the sequencing. It was her language that made the difference. Also, longer holds. We practiced relatively long holds throughout, really working the poses, so I was able to move with my natural breath and still have time to come fully into the asanas. It was a dramatically different experience. After the class, discussing with my fellow trainees, we were surprised to find that nearly all of us had had a very powerful experience in eka pada rajakapotasana (one-legged pigeon), even the normally open-hipped among us. One person was brought to tears. Personally, I was challenged by the sensation to find stillness in a way I have not been in a very long time, perhaps ever... which I found especially strange since I practiced a long stay in one-legged pigeon the night before during my restorative practice. I figured I'd be nice and open.
After the class, we had the first of two anatomy workshops. Basic stuff mostly. We went over the major muscle groups, the best words to use to refer to them in a class, and we discussed the fascia and it's function. Then we workshopped a few poses, discussing the sensations that arise and how to interpret them. We also talked about directing the awareness of the students toward their sensation with word choice. More language. It's no wonder so many yoga teachers and students choose to write about their practice. We're always searching for the right words.
It's back to the studio first thing tomorrow morning. I can't wait, in part because the dairy prohibition will come to an end and we'll be given new nutritional challenges. I intend to celebrate the occasion with a fancy cheese plate much like this one, with my favorite cheeses propped up on little pedestals. I don't care what else they take away from me. If I can have my brie and smoked gouda, I'll be just fine.