By heather | February 26, 2010
(Hey where has everyone been this week? My feed reader doth NOT runneth over like it usually does.)
This weekend is my next to last weekend of teacher training and so far I LOVE IT. Initially my brain fought with my body during every single practice, because it was HARD. And DIFFERENT than what I am used to practicing – teachers at this studio hold poses until your legs shake and although my butt hurts constantly it is in a good way. I have discovered things about my practice and my body that never occurred to me – for example maybe the reason my lower lumbar spine is always slipping and sliding out of place is because I have a ridiculous imbalance of strength between my right and left sides.
I am learning from an E-RYT 500 who trained with Bikram Choudury and with B.K.S. Iyengar…in person. In the yoga world, that’s like having Slash and the Van Halen guy teach you how to play guitar. The professor teaching us yoga philosophy has a PhD from Harvard and lectures at the Smithsonian and has an amazing way of making all this stuff seem exciting and accessible. We’ve also spent a significant amount of time discussing the concept of Atman, and I am delighted to learn that Finding Atman as a concept still makes perfect sense. (The blog name anyway, maybe not so much the posts.)
The concepts of divine love and uniting our spiritual self have sparked an interest and started to fill a void and I find myself more patient, and able to just…sit…without being antsy, or looking for something to do, or constantly checking email every 5 minutes. I feel incredibly fortunate to have stumbled on a yoga teacher training of this caliber, and it truly was the right time for me to do it, furthering my belief that things happen when they are supposed to happen.
Initially I was dreading the drive to and from the studio – it’s about 50 minutes from my house. Thanks to books on CD, the drive time has become a sort of meditative practice in and of itself. The first book I listened to was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve listened to and love all his books -they have the kind of logic and examples and pace that make me sad when I get to the last CD – but this one was probably my favorite so far.
The second book I got was The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom. Depending on my mood, this book was either heart-warming or unbearably saccharine. Mostly it was the latter, but the concept is interesting and there is a quote in there about children that will resonate with me forever – “All children are damaged by their handlers – some get fingerprints, some get cracked, and some get shattered.” (That isn’t a word for word because I am disinclined to go look up and link to the exact quote.)
In my queue are The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (I think the Omnivore’s Dilemma should be required reading for everyone who eats meat), and Super Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner. Currently in my CD player is Raising Boys by Dr. James Dobson.
Now, about that last one. I read somewhere that it is good for us to listen to and read things that we disagree with – it keeps your brain sharp and engaged. I’ve always tried to follow that and indeed even seek out material that presents a differing viewpoint. That is the single reason that I was able to get through the introductory chapters of this book.
Having made it to Chapter 8, I’ve finally been able to stop gnawing on my knuckles/screaming/laughing out loud and can agree with some of what he’s saying. (SOME. Not all. Not even half.) I often feel like I have no idea what I’m doing with Alex which is why I picked it up in the first place, but the in-your-face approach, blatant disparagement of women in the workplace, and feminism as a dirty word, plus assertions with no hard facts or studies to back them up has been…ahem…hard to swallow. I think my buddy Malcolm G would disagree with Dr D., who thinks that boys are better at math because they are wired to be that way, since one of the examples in Outliers is a fascinating study of why Asian cultures are so much better at it than Western cultures. Anyway.
As part of the teacher training, I’ve also read four amazing books that have opened my eyes to the rest of the practice of yoga. One of the books talks about how to be a student – come to practice with a mind like an empty cup, because any knowledge the teacher gives a student with a half full cup will spill out and is lost. I have tried to make a concerted effort to approach every day of training and every book with that mindset, and not having to be right about anything has made a huge difference in my daily attitude. Humility, I think it’s called. It’s refreshing.