Week 7 at yoga teacher training at Essence of Living was a massive weekend of assessment for us yogi teacher trainees. We had to deliver 3 one-hour classes: one for a special population of choice (e.g. someone with a hip replacement or obesity), one for a specific type of athlete (I chose AFL players) and one for kids! We also had to give an explantatory presentation on one of the yoga sutras of Patanjali.
Delivering our classes at yoga teacher training Essence of Living
When we deliver our classes we pair up and one of us teaches while the other is the student. We’re all in a room together so it’s a bit loud and hectic but it’s actually a really great way to practise being comfortable teaching one-on-one. It’s great experience for teaching private classes and it forces you to teach off your mat and adjust your student. Something I’ve only recently started doing properly in my classes to be completely honest, since doing the training at essence of living! I always found it too complicated to not demonstrate on my mat while teaching – I thought I’d forget the sequence or which leg I was on. But I know as a student how amazing it is when the teacher adjusts you instead of being on the mat so I’m really glad we’re forced into it straight away! Somehow Michelle observes all of us teaching at once and fires out commands, tips and corrections as we teach. It’s hilarious, mildly frightening and super helpful all at once!
My main takeaways from Saturday of week 7 of yoga teacher training at Essence of Living were Kitty Cat’s special populations class and Helen’s interpretation of her sutra.
I was paired up with Cat and she chose to sequence her class for someone with Parkinson’s disease. She did such an amazing job of sequencing a whole flow with warrior poses and everything while being seated on a chair! She also used lots of poses where the arms and legs cross over the midline, which is said to create brain coherence between the left and right hemispheres, which can help people with Parkinson’s. Her class was amazing, I was super impressed!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
I also loved the explanation Helen gave of her sutra on imagination. I asked Helen if I could share it with you all I loved it so much! For a bit of background, the yoga sutras of Patanjali are ancient Sanskrit yogic texts from 300BC that were written as 196 verses called ‘sutras’ (meaning threads) that expand on each other and are divided into four chapters. Patanjali is said to have been a great sage and scholar who collected all the wisdom and knowledge of yoga and combined it to form the sutras. Sanskrit is a very complicated language where one word can have a huge number of meanings or translations. On top of this the sutras are extremely convoluted and hard to interpret. Because of this there have been hundreds of commentaries written on the yoga sutras written over the decades, with a huge number of different interpretations and translations.
Helen’s sutra was the ninth sutra in the first chapter: sabda-jnana-anupati vastu-sunyah vikalpah. It talks about imagination which is explained in sutra five to be one of the five types of fluctuations or thought waves of the mind. These five thought waves cause us either pleasure or pain. It is the ultimate goal of the yogi to quieten, or still, these thought waves to ultimately reach an equanimous state of samadhi.
This following is adapted from Helen’s interpretation of the ninth sutra.
Imagination is knowledge based on words that have no real corresponding object.
We use imagination to create non-existent realities.
Imagination forms the basis of preconceived ideas and is the flame of our personal narrative. A constant editing of our own life story is inevitable, which results in false beliefs and altered memories. Even if we don’t think we are, we constantly edit our life story and our memories in our brain. We think our memories are so reliable, but actually most of our memories are edited every day. Each time we remember something we are actually recalling the memory instead of the actual event!
“Each time we remember something, the memory can be affected and altered by our thoughts, perceptions, and emotions. Slight changes in the memory of an event each time it is recalled can eventually snowball into a completely false memory, one that we will firmly believe to be true as it evolved in our own minds… Neuroscientists say that many daily memories are reconstructed to false ones because our view of the world is constantly changing. If there are gaps in our recollection of an event, our memory ultimately fills them in with current knowledge as well as beliefs or expectations.”Kelly Tatera, 2015 from http://thescienceexplorer.com/are-your-memories-real
Imagination may also be the source of misunderstandings and conflict with others, where each person believes something happened in a certain way, and so a different memory is held by all. Five different people experiencing the same thing at the same time will remember and recall the event in totally different ways.
Perceptions are created by imagination and can result in disillusionment. For example, we may hold high expectations for a holiday, event, or festival, and imagination will create an enjoyable experience even before we arrive. However once the real event has been experienced, we may feel let down or unfulfilled.
Similarly, imagination can create disharmony in relationships when a partner does not live up to the imagined expectation of another.
Gaps between what we think and what actually happens are sources of agitation. This distracts us from being fully present right where we are.
Yoga can help us work towards distinguishing between our mind activity and our experience.
We should endeavour to operate in the present – in the now – and try to avoid predetermining the future with imagination. We should “just be”.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What stories do I tell myself?
- Do I believe the stories that I tell myself and others?
- Is my imagination making me worry about things that are not real?
- Are my beliefs based on direct experience or imagination?
- Is imagination affecting the quality of participation in my life?
- Do I use imagination for creativity – or to flee from reality?
Imagination helps to create life – which is a necessity – but it can also separate us from life.
More dharana techniques at yoga teacher training at Essence of Living
Read my blog post from week 4 for an explanation of dharana.
On the Sunday of week 7 at yoga teacher training at Essence of Living I absolutely LOVED that dharana practise we did. We used Insight Timer an amazing free meditation app that has guided mediations as well as a timer. Michelle preset the timer to ring bells at 4-minute intervals for half an hour. The practise starts by taking your attention to the root chakra. You send all your energy to this first chakra, not only for the purpose of concentrating the mind, but also to heal and align that chakra. When the first timer goes off you move up to the second chakra, the sacral chakra. You continue in this way until you reach the crown chakra, which you stay focusing on for 6 minutes.
I loved this practise so much and I was so excited because I really felt like I’d found my daily dharana technique. I was getting a little confused and overwhelmed having so many techniques to choose from. It’s good knowing lots of different tools to concentrate the mind, but I knew that if I wanted to see real progress in my mediation I had to stick to the same daily practise for a long period of time.
Last September I did a 10 day Vipassana meditation course where you mediate for 10 hours a day without speaking to anyone. Since then I’d been using their technique for my daily practise but over the last few months I was struggling to keep the routine going. This week I’ve stuck to this daily practise, getting up at 4.30am everyday and then either going back to sleep after half an hour of meditation or getting ready for my day on the days I start early. I’m loving it so far!
I also loved the asana practise we did – it was a beautiful and super juicy backbend and lateral flexion flow. I just closed my eyes and enjoyed the flow, something I seem to be doing more and more of when I practise yoga these days! I just love closing my eyes and sinking into the feeling of the poses, it’s so relaxing!
Week 8… pilates starts!
Last weekend at yoga teacher training at Essence of Living was the first weekend of pilates teacher training – the last three weekends of yoga are combined with pilates because there are some core subjects that both courses do: business, nutrition, anatomy and ayurveda.
Those of us doing both yoga and pilates training start the morning off with a yoga practise lead by Michelle followed by a Pilates class lead by Michelle… And if you’ve ever been to either of these classes you’ll know they’re bloody hard! Safe to say my butt is very sore this week!
On Saturday after asana practise and then an hour of pilates we had Michelle with us all day for the business component of the course. It was soooo helpful not only for business skills in terms of yoga teaching but just general life business and finance skills. We started the morning off writing down the questions we all had on a whiteboard and somehow Michelle managed to answer them all by the end of the day just flowing naturally as if she’d planned the day around those exact questions! Even though ‘business’ sounds kind of boring it was super interesting and really inspiring! We all had to figure out what hourly wage we had to earn to support our lives while only working the hours we wanted to work in a week. I have to earn at least $65 an hour working 30 hours/week. This is actually pretty doable as a yoga teacher, especially if you take on private clients. For part of our assessment we have to write up a business plan and I’m actually so excited to do it! I’m going to use her template and write one up for The Hippie Cook too!
On Sunday of week 8 at yoga teacher training at Essence of Living we had the beautiful Jema from Wellsome come and talk to us about nutrition for the day. She’s studied ancestral health and Ayurveda and talks about nutrition from a super holistic viewpoint. I found it suuuper interesting and can’t wait to incorporate some practises into my daily life! Everything that she talked about was really interesting but as with everything it’s good to choose one or two things to focus on so that you don’t get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing! Her main emphasis that she kept coming back to throughout the whole day was simply ‘listen to your body’. Which sounds so simple and so obvious but how many of us actually do that? I know personally when I’m making food choices I often listen to my mind instead of my body. Its definitely something I’m wanting to start working on! Jema also inspired me to finally make the decision to stop buying from supermarkets and only support local farmers and local small businesses! I’ve been wanting to do this FOREVER but always thought it would be too expensive! Jema only spends $75 a week on her groceries and only shops at farmers markets for her fresh produce and bulk food places like The Source and Mrs Flannerys for everything else! I’m interested to see if I can keep my weekly food budget around the same… Stay tuned!!
With only two more weekends of yoga teacher training at Essence of Living left it’s getting exciting but also a little sad! We’ve all decided to keep meeting up every weekend to practise teaching with each other. We’re also going to keep meeting up for dinner once a month and try out all the vegan restaurants on the coast! I’m so grateful for this course for introducing me to all these amazing souls, I can’t wait to continue growing and learning with you all and I can’t wait to start going to your amazing yoga classes!
As always, I LOVE YOU ALL! xxx