Diary of a Yoga Teacher Trainee

It was just a few months ago that I said I would be slowing down blogging to focus on yoga teacher training and my book. I never intended to stop blogging and hoped to let you all know about the training as it happened. Something weird took over though and I felt like some of it was too much to share. Or maybe I hadn’t processed it enough to know what to say.

I don’t have a “5 things I have learned so far”…in fact much of it is still muddly.

I started off the journey with some nerves and doubts but mostly excitement. I was still feeling so passionate about yoga as it had gotten me through some very tough times, I claimed before that it saved me. The first training weekend was intense and emotional and beautiful. I was filled to the brim when I left and could not wait for the next weekend.

Then, yoga began to cause problems in my marriage. Apparently my enthusiasm was not so well-received. My husband did not understand what was going on with me, he didn’t “get” what I talked about, and he did not understand the spiritual side of yoga that I spoke of. It caused some problems. We have worked through many of these misunderstandings. Much of it is/was his understanding that because I was passionate about yoga and found something more than exercise out of it meant that I might leave my family and move to India with a shaved head. Ok, maybe he didn’t think that exactly, but he thought I might “take it too far.” This led to my recent post entitled, “Is Yoga Religion?” because in between working through yoga issues with my husband, which by the way, is very common for aspiring teachers and others who become passionate in their practice, I heard rumblings from various people who did not understand yoga or in extreme, were offended by it.

Onto the next trainee weekend, we drove to Mississippi to a Hare Krishna farm. (Yes, I notice the oddity and also beauty of it being located in MS) I had trepidations about this trip because I was in the midst of misunderstandings with my spouse. But I went and loved it. I enjoyed talking to the Hare Krishnas because they are so passionate about their life and about Krishna. They talk a lot and love to share their ideas. They are such loving people and we can all learn from their way of life. We went for the Save the Cow festival. It was a really lovely experience of yoga, community, delicious vegan food and 24 kirtan. I only witnessed about 5 hours of the kirtan. I was the early van back and I was eager to see my kids after being gone all day. But, even 5 hours of:

Hare Krsna
Hare Krsna
Krsna Krsna
Hare Hare

Hare Rama
Hare Rama
Rama Rama
Hare Hare

can be pretty intense; intense but also powerful and amazing. It can truly free your mind in its repetition. Mantra practice is a very useful practice.

krishna cow

Other things came out of this day too. The issue of the face of yoga that I posted about almost exactly one year ago arose again. I know very few yoga snobs (those who think their way is THE way and make others feel “less than”). I am lucky to surround myself with truly honest and beautifully loving people. But there are those who take yoga in what I consider the wrong context. They create an image, a persona, of themselves to reflect what they want to be. Maybe they change the way they dress, they add some accent to their words, etc. I have seen this happen in a few people and it turns me off, particularly the change in speech, wth? In fact, I find it so ridiculous that it has led me to question yoga in general.

This was my state of mind at my third teacher trainee weekend. I was not enthusiastic about being there. I began questioning the authenticity of the practice and wondered if it was all a bunch of hooey. We spent an entire day teaching our individually designed 10-12 minute classes. There are 16 trainees and we did about 12, 10-12 minute classes. That is A LOT of Oms, sun salutes and closing Oms. It was overload of breathy, extended “Innnnhaaalllle, Exxxhaaaaale”. The yoga language was really getting my goat. Needless to say, I was completely over it by the end of the day. I was over the language, over the cadences and in general, saturated with yoga.

It has been a while since I have had a powerful yoga session. Yes, I still love the practice and find the meditation helpful for daily life and still find clarity in a twist. But, months ago, which coincidentally were a time of great pain and heartache, I found such solace in my practice, it was like therapy. Questions became answers and I felt something bigger than myself. Even before the flood, during a time of family struggle, I had intense yoga sessions. And even further back, my early practice seemed to offer the most. But now, when I am more deeply entrenched than before, devouring Patanjali’s Sutras and rejoicing in the Bhagavad Gita, I feel my connection is further away than before. My teacher/friend and I discussed this and there is some truth in her words that perhaps my honeymoon phase with yoga is over and now the deep and meaningful practice begins. I hope so.

My husband and I are working out our differences which come to discover are not so vast. I am learning my authenticity as a yoga teacher, what I hope to impart and the language I will adopt. I continue to question the path and doubt my contribution. But one thing that never fluctuates amid all of it is my dedication. I continue to show up. In the past, I have ended whatever it was I pursued (yeah, I posted about that too) when I got fed up with it for whatever reason. This time, I am committed, for better or worse and will see it through. If yoga has taught me anything, it is steadfast dedication and for that I am grateful.

17 thoughts on “Diary of a Yoga Teacher Trainee

  1. While I have not considered yoga teacher training, I have had many of the thoughts you expressed so well here. I have also seen people who seem to have affected what they think is a yoga-persona, and it has made me question my own commitment to yoga and ponder the real impacts to my life. I do know that it has made my life better in many ways, and continues to do so.

    From your thoughtful posts about the topic, I have no doubt that you will be a kind and authentic yoga teacher, and make a great contribution.

    • Thank you so much, I appreciate your encouragement. Yes, I think many often question if they are a true yogi if they are not adopting that persona as others do. Not to say that everyone who fits that stereotype isn’t being honest, but I think we can usually see the difference. I know some people are turned off from yoga because of this “face” because they think if they don’t fit that mold then yoga must not be for them and nothing could be further from the truth. My goal is to make yoga feel attainable to ALL, not just hippie dippie trippie personas who look the part. xo

  2. I would assume that one would have to have great struggle in order to fully understand peace and zen. At least, that’s how I look at my life, I wouldn’t appreciate the rainbow if I hasn’t first made it through the storm! So today, I am thankful for the challenges you are facing, to me, I think it means that you are going to appreciate the reward, then result, so much more when it arrives!

    I’ve been doing about 10 min a day, but didn’t do a full class at all last week, it felt good to come back to the mat today – and I picked a digestion class 🙂 But I’ve started doing a meditation after each class, I pop Spring Groove, Gratitude, up on Youtube (Gayatri mantra) and just sit in meditation with a mudra and let those 6 minutes wash over me. I think I am ready to start exploring other mantas!

    • I agree Kate, often the struggle leads us to the good stuff. The hard part is that when you are in the struggle you are unsure if the good stuff will come. But I have faith. Thanks for your encouragement too 🙂 I love so much that you and Nancy have taken up yoga!! And I love that you are meditating. I have gotten a bit off of my home practice but you inspire me to get back to it. What mudra do you do in meditation? Guyan mudra, forefinger to thumb? I’m not well versed in all of the mudras but I would like to learn more of them.

      • I have been doing the forefinger and middle finger to thumb on right hand (signifying receiving) and the middle finger and ring finger to thumb on the left hand (signifying letting go) when I’ve been focused on loving releasing what I no longer need in my life and making room for what I do – and all of the other times, when it’s just plain calm the mind meditation I use the forefinger to thumb. Palms up of I need to receive, or palms down if I feel I need to give.

        And those are the only ones I know at this point!

  3. I was so excited to see a post from you…especially one on your teacher training. I’ve always heard that it brings up things in your life that you don’t expect and I guess that’s true for you. Thank you for being so open and honest. Showing up is the most important thing you can do. The rest will work itself out. I hope to hear more as you continue.

    • Thanks Danielle…yes, it certainly does bring up stuff. Some of the trainees had a really hard time at the beginning and considered quitting but now are very passionate. Everyone seems to struggle at a different time which is really interesting. But I agree, returning to the mat is the best thing we can do, despite the struggle.

  4. HI, Kerry. I can appreciate the movement you’re experiencing in your yoga journey and respect your determination to keep practicing. I have spells of dryness and annoyance in my meditation practice, and in their particular way they teach me–mainly compassion and patience. Please know I keep sending healing thoughts your way. Peace, John

    • Thanks John. It is good to hear from you. I’ve missed my WordPress friends 🙂 I need to check in on your beautiful writings. Yes, those dry spells certainly teach us patience. xo

  5. i am really glad you wrote about this because it was so enjoyable to read and I can relate. It’s interesting to see that for all the wisdom, and history, and sacredness of the practice and the philosophy the truth is it wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t actually really simple. Simple meaning universal, but not necessarily easy to do day in and day out. That is where the real effort is, the tenacity of your practice. So the passion or what you feel like you experienced may not feel as strong today…but it’s like any relationship it changes and transforms and a new discovery is usually right there in the mess. Maybe the passion isn’t as strong but now you are? Maybe it’s actually a blessing? For me, it’s the silence, the emptiness – when i come to a point where i can’t see that the philosophy serves anyone- when I think, how am I supposed to behave in this crazy world, that it drives me crazy and I wonder am I becoming embittered- or wiser? I get very emotional when I feel abandoned by it. i feel not so pleasant yogic things. It’s a hard road that you are on, because now…you were awakened, and it’s kind of impossible to go back to what was.

    • It’s true Miriam, the expectation of how to behave is the hard part of yoga. Am I doing this right or wrong? Then judgments, those “not so pleasant yogic things” come in. I agree, push all that stuff aside and it is the silence and emptiness that make the practice powerful. xo Love you friend

  6. Yoga’s just one facet of your being, not your whole being.

    When I first became interested in yoga, at a very young age, my mum said something about it ‘being religious’ and put me off practising. Or rather, led me to practice secretly, which felt weird that I had to.

    As I got older, I think she understood that I didn’t practice it as a religious ritual, but as a mental / spiritual / physical activity that helped me get in tune with myself. In the end, that’s what it is about – bringing together your mind, body and spirit so all the parts of you are working in harmony with each other.

    Yoga teaching is something I am considering in the near future, so it’s great to read your reflections.

  7. Well, I’m so glad that I actually get email alerts for your posts rather than just relying on WP Reader, because I’m so far behind with reading posts in my Reader, I may have missed this one.

    Kerry, I think this post was beautiful and brave. Thank you for sharing, in such a raw and honest way, the beauty and struggle you are experiencing in your training. I so get what you’re saying about the personas and the ‘affect’ that some develop, including – to your point – the accents and words adopted. Can feel very forced and fake.

    I wish you nothing but love and light as you continue to navigate this path.

    • Nancy, I am sorry I am so delayed on my reply! Thank you for your note. I always appreciate you reading. I actually walked away from ytt this past wknd. Then returned on Sunday. It was a tumultuous wknd and this whole process is more than I bargained for. I appreciate your love and light. All is well though, I am sure I’ll fill in soon. The reading is slowing down so I am hoping to get back into blog reading and writing again.

  8. I was thinking about you this evening, Kerry. At the start of Yoga class! I rejoined a couple of months ago when I discovered a class being held near my home. And I’m enjoying it all over again. It is hard work at times but I’m feeling the benefit of the classes, physically and mentally. Spiritually too, in the meditation and relaxation periods.
    Reading over your post I’m just thinking what a great Yoga teacher you would make. Thinking of my own teacher just now it’s really about who she is as the teacher bringing out the best of what we can achieve as we learn. I’m glad you’re taking on the role of teacher and can imagine you making an excellent one because of who you are not because of who or what other yogis appear to be.
    Your post reminds me of how much I hated teacher training except for the practical and how much I still love teaching. Worth it in the end.x

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