After a full weekend of visiting teacher yoga, this afternoon I still had my “regularly scheduled” teacher training program session to attend. Fortunately, this afternoon was a pretty darn cool session. :)
We started the class by examining two different-but-similar asanas (poses); Warrior 1 and Warrior 2. I adore these poses, especially Warrior 2. I feel so strong, so grounded, so confident in Warrior 2, with my legs solid and active, prepared to meet someone, but also prepared to calmly stand my ground (depending on what the situation calls for); with both arms straight and powerful, sending energy both behind me and in front of me; basically, ready to address anything that might come my way, but also equally willing to simply stand solidly in my own grace and beauty… ahh, I LOVE it!! And really, I love all of the Warrior poses. In fact, I *still* remember a series my old yoga teacher did where she had us move through the Five Warriors; and that was nearly a year ago now. That series was so incredibly cool; it was wonderful!
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon’s asana examination. :)
Next, myself and two of my peers gave a presentation and facilitated a discussion around the first niyama of saucha. And, I surprised the class by giving ‘em a cool little rap that explained the details of saucha – and it went quite well. If you’d like to read the lyrics of my rap, you can do so here.
The second half of our class was a conversation, and the topic was “Why Yoga?”. The first question our teacher asked us was, “Why did you initially come to yoga?” The responses were varied, and ranged from physical fitness and injury prevention, to stress relief and mental clarity, to doing it as a hobby and looking for a community to join. For me, I initially came to yoga because I discovered I was ‘naturally’ good at it. I was not an athlete as a kid (I avoided most sports-type activity because I thought I was uncoordinated, and I was out of shape, and because physically I was pretty lazy growing up), then during college I started running. I was “just okay” at running, but it was really hard work. Then in my later-twenties a friend took me to a yoga class, and my natural flexibility kicked in, and I was able to do more “advanced” poses from Day 1 – and it was easy! (For me.) Here was a supposedly “difficult” physical practice that I could do well with little effort; how cool is that?! So I went to more yoga classes, and just kept going…
Our teacher then asked a second question, “Why do you do yoga now? What does yoga do for you that other things don’t?” Again, responses were varied, and included things like provides increased body awareness, supports self-acceptance of one’s physical being (strengths and limitations), yields better emotional awareness, provides a pause to life’s “busyness”… For me, I continue to do yoga (and chose to actively deepen my yoga studies and practice) because yoga shows me how to access my own intrinsic happiness and joy.
Our teacher posed a final question, “Why is it that yoga does all of the things you have just described? Why doesn’t a treadmill offer all those same benefits?” She then went into a lecture on Tantric Yoga philosophy. If you follow this blog, you may recall that I took a tech session on Tantra Yoga, and I wasn’t a big fan of the concept at that time. Today’s experience was a little different; we didn’t do any forced meditation (which I appreciate), we just discussed the theory/philosophy of Tantra: basically, how the breath is used to move energy in/around our bodies, and how we can affect the energy in us by burning up negative energy, then expelling the remnants of that negative energy, to allow positive energy to exist inside us and flow freely within us. In other words, when we get rid of the crap in us, the good stuff (that is inherent in us all) can then shine through – and as a result we are physically healthier, mentally happier, interpersonally more useful and more productive to our society, spiritually more connected… all in all, just better people.
From our brief, very-high-level class conversation, it seems to me that this spiritual view has several similarities to Buddhism, but is still fundamentally different in important key concepts. And those few-but-important concepts (among the most notable is the Buddhist teaching of annatta, or “not-self”) form a pretty big divide for me. Experience will show me the way, and I’m working to remain open to what is, and to be led to what is true for me; but for today, for right now, I don’t know that Tantra is for me. But, like I said, we shall see. Who knows, tomorrow my third eye might bust open, and I’ll be super-clairvoyant and manifesting all over the place… (And if that were to happen, I suspect I might think I was insane, so probably better if that doesn’t actually happen…) So I’m just trusting that my Higher Power/karma will guide me where I’m intended to go. At any rate, today’s discussion was a cool conversation, and one I’m glad I was a part of.