My journey into yoga began a long time ago, and it was until a couple years ago that yoga became a big part of my life. I began meeting yogis from around the world and attended several workshops, a yoga congress and retreats. I was curious and wanted to delve deeper, so I thought that my most recent move – from New York City to Madrid, Spain – was the perfect time to embrace big life changes and finally signed up for a teacher training course with Yogaone by DIR.
My teacher training course began slowly and I was anxious for more. My lower back ached from sitting on the ground for nearly eight hours per day, I wanted to sweat and stretch and learn new advanced moves. Eventually, the course picked up, I connected with incredible teachers from around the world and learned many new things I never knew existed. I fell in love with a daily pranayama and meditation practice and grew as a person during the experience. Here are a few of my big takeaways from my course and things I’ve learned over the years thanks to my yoga practice.
- A yogi’s age is not dependent on how many years old he is, but rather how many breaths he has taken.
The goal of yoga is to control prana, the energy inside of yourself, the life force. Breath is so powerful.
- There are so many paths a yogi can take.
A physical practice is a great place to start, but it’s not necessary.
- Always be a student and always maintain a beginner’s mind.
We are never finished learning. If you believe that you are an expert in any way, your ego has taken over and you have already closed your mind to new experiences. A beginner’s mind is eager to learn new paths and open to constructive criticism. I want to always be moving forward, always improving.
- Everyone is very different.
A side-by-side comparison is incredibly interesting to see how different everybody is. This is important in order to give proper adjustments, teach new moves and appropriately encouraging people to reach their potential without causing damage.
- Liberation comes from detachment.
Detachment makes all the difference. You cannot allow others to affect your mood or change your day. You do you and I do me. Observe your own thoughts, analyze the actions of others without being emotionally involved and do not get too attached to things or people because everything is temporary.
- Gratitude changes everything.
It’s difficult to get angry or lose control when you believe that everything happens for a reason, the universe works in a methodological way when you are simply grateful and don’t feel entitled.
- Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment to do that thing you have always wanted to do.
There will never be a perfect moment, perfection just does not exist. You will find that every challenge in this world is easier than you thought. You can’t wait forever to ask for a raise, take a teacher training course, have a baby, whatever it is that you want to do – just do it!
- Everyone is anatomically asymmetrical and flawed.
Every body is perfect, but no body is perfect. Anatomy is affected from top to bottom, starting with the head, which is shaped in the birth canal. I am, as my teacher said, “mal hecho” (poorly made); my head is a funny shape, my legs are different lengths, my feet are two different sizes and I have an anterior pelvic rotation, which affects my psoas and much more. Later, we’ll discuss the muscles and discover how everything is related. The great news is that yoga targets all muscles strategically.
- If you are scared, just do it.
I felt unprepared to give my first yoga class, despite the fact I have been practicing for over 13 years and finished my teacher training. This does not mean I don’t have an ego – it means that I let fear control my life! Once I did my first class I felt confident in my abilities. The same lesson can be applied to many aspects of life.
- Test your comfort zone.
Discovery and growth can only be found by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
- Just breathe.
I discovered a pranayama practice during my course, my favorites being: Samavritti (squared breathing), Kapalbhati (skull shining breath) and Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing 1:4:2). However, controlled and deep breath can be applied to everyday activities, and it truly makes all the difference. Some have even claimed that it can control the immune system (read up on the Ice Man, Wim Hof) and use it in dynamic meditation (read about Osho).