Home yoga practice, Music and yoga, My YTT

Singing can be yoga

We had our May YTT intensive this past weekend. We sang a lot. We learned a ton. So, so much.

Just this morning, while doing laundry, I found myself singing while meditatively folding my family’s clothing into stacked bundles. I decided to go with it, and after singing / folding for about ten minutes, I found I’d worked up quite a bit of heat.

When I finished, I drank a glass of water and my two year-old and I shared a pear. These simple things felt like a full, gratifying morning.

Sometimes yoga is something other than a “workout.” Sometimes it is sitting with friends and and connecting by singing. Sometimes it is doing something for you, even while conducting the most commonplace tasks in life. Whistling while you work, so to speak.

“Don’t worry about how well you carry a tune or whether you know all the words… Come. Sing along. You’ll have the time of your life.” Melody Beattie,”Journey to the Heart,” page 147.

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My YTT, Yoga on The Farm

Starting small, planning, growing

A force that pushed me to yoga teacher training, and drives me to write about yoga, is the desire to share yoga with “non yoga people.” To clarify, yoga is for everyone! But it isn’t obvious to everyone how to find class or teacher that fits their needs and style, and booking a class in a traditional yoga studio can be intimidating. As with so many things, “fit” matters.

Within days of sharing my mission, a member of my local community offered space on their developing farm for me to teach yoga while I am in training. We have become friends, and I have been visiting the farm to get a feel for the space. There are chickens, cats, and a Labrador named Scout. There is a pond, relatively flat and clean grass, and a barn with a fridge, sink, and bathroom. It’s perfect.

Growing up in Maine, I spent my fair share of time on farms, and countless glorious hours outdoors. I treasure my connection with the land, and am thrilled to have this opportunity to teach plein air, to borrow the artist’s term.

Starting small and familiar feels right to me, because connecting to the land, to my students, matters. I am developing a five class summer series for the farm, and inviting a few friends to join me. Yoga is about practice, and I am grateful for this space and the support of my friends on this journey. Who knows where this will lead?

My YTT

About sitting and teacher training, after the first weekend intensive

You are prepared to learn a lot during yoga training. You bring your mat and you are ready to go! But now you bring an additional bag. Your books. Your paper (which I forgot. Twice. Thanks, B, for sharing). A screaming yellow highlighter. Pens, etc., and so on.

You know there will be a lot of sitting. But in the beginning, even though you set up for practice with your mats on the floor, the sitting is not about Sukhasana, or “easy sitting pose,” aka, sitting up straight, criss-cross applesauce. It is taking notes. Sitting lecture/seminar style with a yoga practitioner/expert instructor at the helm, along with a life-sized, plastic anatomically correct skeleton with rubber ligaments. Intermittent discussion, legal talk, teaching methodology, lecture, snack time, and Asana /exercise practice, and breathing. 

Now I understand that when I asked my mentor what I need to bring or prepare, she didn’t mention planks or fasting. Her response was along the lines of, “a highlighter and some index cards.” She meant that literally.

It is really cool to tap back into the student part of my brain, and also be handwriting again! When was the last time you spent about 8 hours in one day, sitting in class and taking notes by hand? It had been a while for me. And still, we have hardly even cracked the books out yet. There is so much to learn.

My YTT, On Aging

Things change, things stay the same


This weekend I was at a junior high school where Dove was competing in an academic competition (aside: she placed 3rd, so proud of her!). I was struck by how little schools, the actual structures, have changed. Take a look at the girls restroom, pictured. This could just as well been my middle school washroom, back in coastal Maine, back in 1986. Yet this is Texas, 2018. Is it possible that they have not made any changes to school restrooms in thirty+ years, or longer? Why?

I have had similar thoughts about mens wallets, toilet paper, mailboxes, envelopes, thermometers… things that have not really changed in my lifetime. Sure there probably could be improvements. And sometimes “new” versions pop up, like those neon velcro wallets, or the mood-ring-like forehead thermometers… (Maybe I’m dating myself?). Sure some men use money clips and some moms use temporal thermometers now,  but the old standards persist over time. 

Why? Because they work.

Yesterday, I began my 200 hour yoga teacher training program. I was so nervous, had butterflies in my stomach, which is coincidentally a feeling I haven’t actually had since I was back in middle school.

The basis of study for the first day was an overview of the human body, the fundamental physical principles of yoga as a healing science. The skeptical, modern, researcher in me wondered: can I reconcile my doubts about the spiritual world and metaphysical concepts of yoga (and related healing practices) with my academic nature? And my inner voice kept answering, yes. Yes. YES!

Why? Because it works.

Yoga is an ancient practice. An ancient science. Some of the terminology, some of the concepts, much of them really, predate modern research and Western medicine. But they are the same. The intention of both is to heal. Yoga looks at a person holistically. How can we make adjustments, or exercise this part of the person (literally and/or metaphorically), to be the best, healthiest, happiest, most whole person this person can be? Western medicine is evolving to appreciate that we cannot just treat symptoms or single ailments, we must look at the whole body, the brain, the psychology and the physical, to heal. Because that works. 

I am thrilled to have come to this epiphany. And I can’t wait for day two of my 200 YTT… two hours from now!

My YTT

What does it mean to be ready? 

My YTT program begins Saturday. I am pumped. I’m also a little bit nervous. I gather that is normal. We are jumping right in with two full days.

I’ve been reading, keeping up with my practice, and gathering things I want and need. My friends and family have been incredibly generous with support, time, and love. Everyone asks, “Are you ready?”

What does it mean to be ready, paricularly for a journey like this?

1. I need to be and stay healthy. I can’t afford to lose any time to illness, mine or the kids’!

2. I need to be limber. I have some ideas and expectations, but I’m trying to let them go. My hamstrings and quads are tight as hell, and I’m working on loosening them.

3. I need to show up. My husband and kids are prepared to have me away from home a lot more than usual, and I am grateful for their understanding my need to do this.

Are my bags packed? No. But I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Except for one thing. I’m going to pick up some Epsom salts for sore muscle soaks before Saturday.

Advanced Yoga, My YTT

I’m doing it

I said “yes” and I am doing yoga teacher training, beginning this month. I have even launched a Go Fund Me campaign.

I should be folding laundry, but instead I wanted to outline what this version of YTT (yoga teacher training) is, and where your donation is going. Warning, this is super long.

Honestly, I did not know how intense the academic, scientific, and interpersonal a ground-floor, 200 hour YTT is until this weekend, when I attended an open house with three of the experts/teachers (two of them with advanced degrees in anatomy and nursing).
The program is approved by the National Yoga Alliance*
It is a 27 week program.
 
Residence requirements:
7 weekend intensives. All day, Sat/Sun, with the cohort and teachers at Premier Yoga.
27 meetings (weekly) with the cohort and teachers.
25 hours of weekly contact yoga classes.**
6 private sessions with experts in the field, broadly construed.
10 hours of teaching practicum
6 written homework assignments (one per month)
Weekly reading – required books and manuals will be provided, additional materials and books may be recommended. Not sure how many pages. We’ll see.
1 45 minute teaching session with the cohort. This seems like the dissertation defense part.
Testing – more on this when I get there!
Training and coursework are in anatomy, teaching, all of the asanas (that is the physical part of yoga practice), diet and nutrition, Ayuverdic medicine, breathing, all of the things you have heard about yoga plus a lot more that I will learn about as I go.
So. This is where donations go. To pay the faculty, to pay for the space. Nobody is really profitting from this, beyond making enough to get by.
When I have completed the program and pass the test, by the end of October 2018, I will be certified as a real yoga teacher.
If you have read all this, thank you. If you are able to contribute to this cause, thank you! If you have already supported me here or out in the world, you know how much I appreciate you.
Love, Sarah
** I already take 2-3 hours of yoga classes per week, so this expense does not factor in above the tuition