You get to do yoga in yoga teacher training?
Yoga has been indispensable in getting me through numerous challenges and rough spots in life, so it seems if evolation wanted to make yoga teacher training really rigorous they would disallow us from refreshing our mental and physical reserves with yoga practice. After all, we are here to learn how to be yoga teachers, in an extremely short time, and we already know a lot of yoga, so why not spend all the time teaching teaching?
Oddly, it seems the evolation trainers are not so sadistic as that, and, of course, we do have the opportunity to experiment with things we learn in the posture clinics in yoga class, so the hot hatha yoga classes are helping deepen our teaching skills.
encouraged to learn something new
There is another aspect of the evolation training program, encouragement to learn something new, to expand one’s understanding of yoga in many of its dimensions, including the many types of physical yoga practice. As one who has practiced the 90-minute Primary Series (26+2) exclusively for 10 years, trying variations and other styles of yoga has been nothing less for me than a mind-bending revelation.
We first did the evolation 60-minute hot yoga series, essentially all but one of the Bikram-series postures, but done once, not in sets of two. I found this very enjoyable; feeling about the same physical and mental benefits as the longer series, but less “wrung-out” and less dehydrated. While I find it hard to do the 90-minute series in the middle of the workday, I would have no problem going back to work after the 60-minute series. Bikram may or may not be right when he insists that the 90-minute series is the minimum time needed for daily maintenance, but even if he is right, the reality is that few people can dedicate that much time to their practice every day. Is it better to do no yoga or to do the still comprehensive series of 26 postures in 60 minutes? There have been days where I had no more than 5 minutes for yoga, but I can still get substantial benefits throughout the day from just 5 minutes.
In any event, my feeling was that the 60-minute series is the not a compromised version of the longer series, but that there could be advantages to including it in one’s yoga mix to prevent over training and burn-out.
the advanced series
The 60-minute series was just an appetizer. Zefea Samson taught a kind of introduction to the Advanced Series, an intermediate level selection from the full set of hatha yoga postures. This class was preceded by an hour of Sadhana (free practice), for a total of 3 1/2 hours of continuous, wonderful yoga. The entire experience was completely new to me and I was blown away by it. I feel that I had my first real insight into what yoga at a higher level is all about. Sadhana, designed to prepare for the Advanced Series, was a joy all in itself, the first time in yoga I just listened to my body and did what felt good … yoga play.
Zefea started the Advanced Series with the Five Tibetans, an amazing series of exercises, reputed, according to Wikipedia, to be the 2500 year old “Fountain of Youth”. The Five Tibetans are vigorous, calming, focusing, strengthening, loosening; an extremely powerful of set of exercises which would be an excellent warm-up for any number of physical activities aside from advanced yoga. We continued with many different postures, few of which I had ever done before, hip-openers, moon salutations, lotus series and backbends. I was delighted to find that my Bikram-series body was able to do many of these to some reasonable degree, and that my ACL-repaired knee was still able to get into Lotus.
These postures super-stimulated parts and systems of my body that are not, or hardly, reached in the basic series. My body was buzzing all over from new and exciting sensations. Now that the door has been opened, I am thrilled at the prospect of having so much new yoga to learn.
going with the flow
I had yet one another opportunity to experience a new yoga style: Vinyasa. Back in my days of yoga ignorance I thought of yoga like many guys do: some girly stuff for bendy chicks. Yes, I was that ignorant … though I think the yoga community is partly responsible for its “guy problem” … but that is another blog. My impression of Vinyasa was that it was on the extreme end of girly stuff, whereas a boot camp style Bikram class was somehow acceptable for sports-minded guys like me. Yes, yes, I was really that stupid. Of course, the Vinyasa class was totally recognizable to me as the language of yoga and I did not have too much trouble getting the postures and flow. As most guys would, I absolutely loved all the arm work, largely absent from the Primary Series. Vinyasa was fun, and like the Advanced Class, it got my body and mind buzzing in ways that were delightful and different from the yoga series I have been doing for 10 years, and am learning to teach now.
I’m extremely grateful evolation training has placed a priority in opening up my eyes to different styles of yoga as well as yoga in the largest sense of the word. Eclecticism will make me a better teacher, with deeper insight into the style of yoga I will teach, better understanding of students coming from different backgrounds, and a more profound sense of the “real meaning of yoga” that will inform my actions inside and outside of the yoga room.