red cheeta
Red Kitty watches Arah eat lunch and enjoy the sun, during a yoga break on Sunday.

So, I’m just over halfway done with my yoga teacher training. “How is it going,” Jamie, one of my trainers asked. I couldn’t decide on which thing to mention. Here are my observations:

  • I’m feeling stronger, more stable in the shoulders. And in some other areas, as well.
  • I’ve got the C1 series memorized. “C1” is the 1-hour series of postures that we’re learning to teach.
  • In spite of that, I need to practice teaching it. As much as husband and friends dislike my assessment that that I had fail sauce at our first practice-teaching session, I want to accept a fail, so that I can learn from it. Husband will be student, tonight.
  • I’m more aware of how my body feels, from day to day. For example, I started the training program with some trouble in my shoulder. I’ve made some changes, and the shoulder has less pain, and I sense less of the troubling mobility. Additionally, I feel that I’m getting more full breathing, especially on that left side.
  • I have deepened my understanding of anatomy and structural limitation. A real revelation to me is the difference between compression and tension, in kinesiology. Two bones colliding and so limiting the range of a movement (“compression”), is a different issue than the tension of muscle and other soft tissue limiting the range of a movement (“tension”).
  • However, what is still unresolved for me is when you’re at the point when you can stop “pushing.” For years, I’ve been working to increase the degree of flexion in my ankles, partly goaded by a physical therapist who told me that I have “tight heel cords” which may or may not have been contributing to a posture imbalance. And yet I still cannot do a parallel-foot full squat without standing on a short lift. I learned in an anatomy class recently that my limitation in that area may be due to compression: I may have an adequate degree of suppleness in my Achilles tendon; the bones in my ankle may be what’s keeping me from flexing more, and there may be nothing I can do to increase my flexion, short of removing an a bone that poses no functional problem: I ran about 500 miles last year, and I have no pain in my back, nor anywhere else, for that matter.
  • So, “going to your edge” is still a pretty fuzzy instruction to give to students, in challenging poses. People have different ideas of what pain is and different levels of tolerance of it. I’m still working on the wording I want to use, to address this, when I teach.
  • The real point, however, is that there’s no reason that my goal should be to do a parallel-foot, full squat, with feet flat on the floor. If I’m looking for a lumbar release, I can do child’s pose. Or, I can do that squat, with my heels on a rolled towel. If I’m looking for a hip opener, there’s a variety of other poses to do, which don’t rely on active ankle flexion. Yoga asana practice is more about breathing, balance and focus, than it is about looking a certain way. One lovely thing about the names of the yoga asana is most of them (the english version of them, anyway) have rather poetic names. They are creative, and open to interpretation, and for some of them, it’s more helpful to think about the idea of the pose name (lotus, mountain, warriors) rather than whether the human body looks like that object.
  • As such, with every day I attend another class at this studio, I’m appreciate that the teachers demonstrate very few of the poses as they teach. Every body will look different in a pose, especially if they are doing it “correctly,” so it’s best to avoid setting a visual example.
  • My house is a mess.
  • My husband has a cold (I noticed!)
  • I’m getting creative with food shopping. I’ll go to one store in over lunch break, rather than hitting multiple shops and taking up whole Saturday mornings.
  • I’m thinking about my food choices more, and continuing to add more variety in the produce and grains area, and to eat meat even less frequently. I’m avoiding most dairy.
  • My jeans are tighter. I may have gained a pound or two.
  • For the first time in 5 years (other than vacations), I am not tracking all my calorie consumption and use. It was a useful habit but I fear it had become a crutch that wasn’t even useful any more.
  • This training program is an outstanding opportunity that I wish more people could benefit from. My class of 30 or so people, who have gathered together to learn more about yoga, and to learn how to teach it to others, provides a great opportunity for personal growth, even outside of yoga. At many of our training sessions, we’re getting opportunities to step out of our normal habits, and to test ourselves in skills such as observation, memory, and analysis, and to challenge our conception of things like compassion, contentment and beauty. At first I was thinking that any sort of intense training program could result in this, but lately I’ve been thinking that it’s unique to a yoga teacher training program.
  • Husband and I have managed to keep the snail-mail in-box empty. We’re sorting, dealing with it each day it comes.
  • I’m still 40 pages from finishing the book I started several months ago.
  • I’m starved for sunshine/the outdoors.
  • I’m starved for forward movement, as I’ve had to forgo most walking, running, skiing, et cetera, that I would normally be doing in my free time.
  • My heart tells me that I am going to be good at, and that I’m going to love, teaching yoga.

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