Thursday, January 25, 2007

Yoga Teacher Training, Day 1, Module 1

Today was my first day of my first yoga teacher training module, and I think it's definitely money well-spent. The teaching manual Dolly put together is wonderful, and despite the long hours in class, the day flew by! I'm in unchartered territory, that's for sure. But I think this is going to be very, very good for me.

Who are my classmates?
They are Lauren, Cay, Marge, Amber, and Greg. Age range is, I'm guessing, mid-20s to early 50s. We're a total of six students, an absolutely perfect number because we can pair off or split the class straight down the middle. We also get lots of individual attention this way as well.

We're obviously all bonded by our love for yoga, but aside from that, I really like all the personalities very much. There is a wonderful vibe in the class, in large part because Dolly is so positive and nurturing, but also because there is no "judgment" vibe at all. It's a very special thing, and I am grateful that I feel safe enough to work through this process with this vibrant bunch of people:
  • The person I admire most is Marge. She has three sons in their 20s, and she's giving it her all even though she just came to yoga in her 50s. That takes tremendous courage, and my hat is off to her for it. She's seems to be a very kind soul.
  • Greg is the token guy in the class. Greg is also in my regular classes with Dolly, and he brings it every time he hits the mat. He is very focused. From our conversations today, it sounds like he finally feels like he's coming home with yoga, and that is awesome.
  • Lauren is a fitness trainer who is also rounding out her Pilates certification as well as yoga. She's going to be a wonderful yoga teacher, I think. She's already got a lovely cadence and presence, and seems extremely approachable.
  • Amber is a former ballerina who still teaches ballet. She has a face like an angel! Beautiful girl...who can do full splits! We were all envious. I'm thinking she's the baby of our group, and she seems very curious, very ready to turn a major corner in her life.
  • Cay is still a bit of an enigma to me, though I sense she may be a Type A like me. She strikes me as everyone's go-to girl, perhaps a perfectionist, again like me? I could be wrong. But I'm thinking, whatever Cay sets her mind to, she accomplishes. I'm looking forward to getting to know her better.

Some Cool Stuff We Did
We did some wild and very effective exercises today!

In one exercise, we paired off, one acting as the student, one as the teacher. All the teachers were blindfolded and had to adjust/mold the student into a particular pose only by touch—we could not give any verbal direction. Talk about're not only blindfolded, but feeling a stranger's body! But a damn good exercise and ice breaker.

In another exercise, we had to instruct our student verbally only, no touch, and could not give the name of the asana as a clue. Suddenly, I couldn't think of how to instruct the pose, despite having heard Dolly do it many times in class. You forget right and left, mix them up, or omit a key element and the student moves into the wrong position. Again, a brilliant exercise for understanding the importance of verbal and visual instruction.

Our last exercise involved blindfolds again. This time, the students were blindfolded and the teacher had to instruct them into an asana without giving the name of the asana. As the student, you're not only moving into a difficult balance pose like Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), you're doing it blindfolded. I can hardly balance in this pose with all my senses available! As the teacher, again, without being able to show or tell the name of the posture, things become significantly more difficult. Funny—the blindfolds were actually an eye-opening experience.

Our Practice Today
Dolly folded us into one of her normal teaching slots, so our asana practice included other students as well. We did a two-hour deep stretch class, and stretch did we ever. This type of class is not usually my cup of tea, as I was telling my classmates, because I can almost never sit still. So holding poses, most of which really play your edge, is grueling—I'd rather do the fast-paced, hardcore, sweat-inducing classes anyday. But this was a good experience, and Dolly did point out that the flexibility we always seem to crave is acquired through deep stretches that are held and practiced daily. I'm going to be practicing splits in front of the TV from here on out!

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