First, can I say that I absolutely am geeking out about Yoga TT and how much I love it! The group is great, there are only 9 of us, so small, with much chance of individual attenti….uh, wait. Not really, you know? 200 hours is a very short amount of time and there is so much to cover that a lot of attention to any one particular person is not going to work. However, while we are working asana sequences, 9 people make it very easy for the lead teachers and assistant to individually help each of us, sometimes placing an extra block under straining arms, sometimes actually holding someone up in a weird balancing pose (that would be me!). So it’s a great mixture of personal attention and group dynamics and it is lovely.
The thing that I was most afraid of going into this was the “schooling”, in particular anatomy. I figured I could handle the Sanskrit; so much of what we need to know are names of poses, and hearing them all the time in class I find myself saying them easily (altho what trips off my tongue is often very different from how it looks on paper…that Sanskrit spelling and pronunciation can be a bitch!) But I’m kind of all into the Sanskrit/meditation/spirituality of the practice, so this doesn’t worry me much.
In the case of anatomy, however….UGH! I hate science, I hate memorizing anything (and I figured that would be the only way to get through this part), and I have a very strange attitude toward my own body,meaning that I have been really out of touch with it. I take general care of it, feed it, clean it, go to doctors when needed, but it serves as a vehicle to get me around. And I am having a very hard time with the aging aspect of my body, which also serves to disconnect me. Since starting yoga and learning about chakras, etc, I am entering into a more meaningful relationship with my body, but learning about all bodies seemed dry and boring and HARD.
I was not prepared for the dynamic teaching of Maria Christina. I have taken class with her and admired the way she could make adjustments on everyone, myself included, that really helped our practice. But I knew little about her other than that she was an anatomy geek and yoga teacher. Well,she’s a Fulbright scholar and incredibly respected anatomy geek who facilitates workshops all over. She is a certified Rolfer and has a passion for the body that is relentless. I discovered why on Sunday when she told us that years ago she almost died in a horrific accident, had been given last rites, and when she pulled through was told she’d never walk again.
Yet here she was, 30 years later. Her enthusiasm began to make perfect sense, and as she talked I began to get caught right up in her enthusiasm. On Saturday, we did an anatomy lesson where she had us laughing so hard, which was my first clue that this might not be as dry and boring as I feared. And oddly, when we reviewed the material on Sunday, I was calling out answers with the rest of the class; somehow it had sunk in.
Sunday she got more personal, and it was then I saw/heard what all of the learning she could impart might mean to my own body, my own spiritual self attached to this body. She spoke of people that walk around hunched over all the time, the yogic adjustments they need, but the fact that a spiritual adjustment might also be needed. Were they always hunched inward, protecting their hearts? Why do some people hate heart opening exercises…fear of being vulnerable, of having their hearts broken.Why do people hate hip openers? So many emotions stored in the hips. This is my kind of anatomy, a holistic approach based on the realities of each person’s life. Amazing. I found myself tearing up, and opening up.
Later we talked about the bones that make up the spine…starting with the C1, which is called the Atlas bone. Atlas held the weight of the world on his shoulders, right? This is the first bone in the neck that holds our heads up. And then she had us feel it and nod yes. It is the bone that allows us to say YES. That made me cry again. (BTW..next one C2 , is the one that allows us to sake our heads no). We talked about how our whole lives show in our bodies, bones, organs, etc, and how wonderful it can be to work on these areas thru healing modalities like chiropractic or rolfing, massage and therapy, as well as yoga. How alignment changes us, how sometimes the worst things that happen to us can be the best, or at least bring great gifts. (Waterworks? you betcha!)
I had the thought that I was being very self-centered, fixating on how all of this related back to my body, my own self. But, really? How do things come alive for us, begin to have meaning? We look at ourselves, relate ourselves to how we are in the world with others and ultimately with our own selves, our own bodies. Right my Yogi friends? Right my runner friends? Right my cross fit friends? Often we learn just enough to deal with our own bodies; I’m going to have to learn a little bit more.
There’s more. The Chakras and the way they relate to the anatomy. I cannot wait to move into all of that as an extension of the grosser anatomy that I am learning. I know just enough about them to start to relate them to some of the info I got this weekend. And I think there will be so much self-knowledge there that will then translate outwardly to others. For example: Why do I have such a hard time with backbends? My head goes back and I choke, I feel so unsafe. I even hate having my hair washed at the hairdresser, something most people I know look forward to. But those positions where my head has to hang backwards expose the throat chakra, which correlates to feelings and openness, ideas, creativity and communication. All the things I want to do and be and yet find so hard. The words coming out, the speaking my truth, the hiding. I know I am not the only one, and to see this in a yoga pose and be able to name it for myself, and consequently for others, is so exciting.
So after the first weekend of TT, I already see how my old ideas and thoughts will be turned on their heads. My fears have eased and my excitement is mounting. The next time I ask, in one of my groups, “where in your body are you feeling that grief?”, I will have a much clearer understanding of whatever answer I get. When I look around the room and see certain postures that people take, I will have a clearer picture of where they hold their grief and fear, and perhaps I can lead them to place of unloading some of that.
What I feel is such a clear, clear indication that I made the right choice, but also I can see how this training will help me in every aspect of my life going forward, whether I ever actually teach yoga or not. I am really excited.
And oh so grateful.