Living Your Yoga
I am a master of the written word…and I had forgotten how to talk.
On Tuesday 13 September 2016, I started my 200-hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training at Bird Rock Yoga studio in Pacific Beach, San Diego. Aside from the excitement that goes along with living in a new place, I was also embarking on an journey that I now realise is more about observation, communication and patience than anything else.
I’m currently halfway through the 10-week part-time course so I write to you from the trenches. In five weeks I have injured my back, got a head cold, learned a vinyasa sequence and made five new lifelong yogi-pals, among other things. Simultaneously, I am writing up my PhD thesis. I balance study with yoga (pardon the pun), diving head first into both with the gusto of a toddler on ice cream. It’s exciting, sweet, messy and generally all over the floor.
The first tasty morsel of advice bestowed upon us as trainees was to be economical and direct with our alignment cues. Get rid of the filler language – the ‘so’, the ‘um’, and the ‘go ahead’ – and focus on telling your student exactly what you want them to do right here and right now. I discovered I had forgotten how to talk in the present tense. Spoiler alert: almost all of us have. We get so caught up in the story of where we’ve been and where we’re going that we lose sight of the only thing that we actually experience: the now.
Taking this advice, I started practicing. It was awkward, uncomfortable and weird. New things inevitably are but they move into the realm of familiarity pretty quickly. At the same time, I was reading the book Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater and came across a profound mantra that merged my academic studies with my yoga-dventures:
Life is practice and practice is life.
Reading this, I paused, then thought to myself: what is practice? The researcher in me went straight to the dictionary and this beautiful definition leapt off the page: the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.
Practice is putting into action what you believe.
Duh. So what do I believe in?
That is a much more nuanced and complex question, but in the name of practice I started to answer it.
Truth. Space. Play. Creativity. Love. Freedom. Knowledge. Art. Beauty…
It’s a lot to expect all of these beliefs to manifest at every given moment, so I choose to focus on a couple at a time while I continue to bend and stretch my mind and body. Life is practice and practice is life – thanks Judith.