Sweat, Fatigue & Feelings: A Teacher Training Adventure

I sit high up in the Swiss mountains at 10 p.m., beneath a dark and noisy thunderstorm. The past couple of days have been exceptionally hot for this environment and now the sky is shooting thunderbolts and lightning all around. The picture outside the window is tumultuous: Light and dark, wind-strewn rain, the sound of rolling thunder. This cacophonous light storm reminds me of how my body and mind felt when I was embarking on the Forrest Yoga Foundational Teacher Training adventure.

I had entered the training with openness and left with a football field full of emotions. Ana Forrest eased me into the process. Well… kind of. On the first day, I was excited and curious, on the second day I was dehydrated and tired, and on the third, I felt like I had been there for a month, with the end nowhere in sight. I worked through the icky, dormant emotions we all keep somewhere in our bodies. I was left sweating and freezing on the floor talking myself through asanas in voices I did not know I had. I was left sitting and contemplating my life so that at some point I was rethinking Plato’s Republic—and believe me I would have loved to ask Socrates some questions about that. Still in the midst of other participants, I was alone with my thoughts; I felt them re-group, disappear, and multiply.

It roughly worked like this: Everyday (27 consecutive days!) syncing up with my spirit and redirecting energy to what matters in life during our meditation ceremonies, followed by morning Intensives. In the afternoon we had anatomy and teaching theory with practical adjustments, and at night after homework and reflection I slept like a stone. I cycled myself through a cleansing amount of sweat and grew new skin. I pushed myself to old emotions and new edges. I did all of that and at the end of the training I left feeling emotionally drained, physically exhausted—yet completely light and truthfully happy. My head and my body were in sync, and my mind was all over the place, just like the sky is tonight. Still, it is beautiful to look at the sky; it’s the art of nature and admittedly, the teaching from Ana Forrest and her team takes yoga to an art form.

During the training it rained practically every day – granted it took place in the UK – yet, I cannot help to think that the environment cleansed itself, washing away all the old rusty crap and made us ready for new growth. It seems that the rain of tonight is washing away all the sticky heat from the past couple of days. It makes me think that the thunderstorms inside me after the training were an energetically reorganization of myself. It was time for a yard sale of feelings and mastering the business of ‘letting go’.

These days I feel calm, strong, and connected to my spirit. I have been given the tools to play healthily with my yoga sequencing during class and I have learned to breathe through pain. Since the Forrest training I’ve become a better teacher. Ana Forrest has left her mark in my practice and my mind. Expressing my gratitude to Ana’s life work—the standard of excellence in teaching and in fostering overall health. Thank you, Forrest Yoga!

Forrest Training – Photo by Martina Deltcheva

2015 Note – I wrote this article right after the training in 2012. It has been previously published at The Global Yogi. Today, I am a certified Forrest Yoga Teacher and have been assisting Ana Forrest at her trainings. I am given the opportunity to lead other people through the same training that has strongly influenced my life and my teaching.

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Reaching For The Stars And A Jar Of Honey

I am grateful for all the people in my life this past year: my friends, teachers, and my yoga students. You’ve reminded me daily throughout this icky time of mine that there is sweetness to be found in stickiness.

When I look at the moon and the night sky, I’m reminded how vast life is. And I think right at this moment you—my friend, teacher, and student—might look at the moon too.

I scoop out a spoonful of honey. It’s rough; it’s the hard kind. It stays on the spoon and doesn’t drop. The texture looks like fresh snow, powder as light as a feather. But this spoonful of honey is heavy and dense. It looks the same with its sparkles, but it’s not. Situations can look the same, but beneath the surface they are not. They are completely different. Nevertheless, sometimes the deep structure is the same, the essence, but it looks different on the surface. Good ol’ syntax will teach you all that. Still, fresh powdered snow glitters just like hard crumbly honey.

A couple of months ago I tried the soft kind of honey, the kind that hangs and falls off the spoon. It’s messy, that one; I didn’t like it at all. I had to twirl and turn the spoon to defy gravity and there was only a short window of time to put the spoon into my mug before it dripped all over the place. What a mess. Today, I know that I prefer the hard and dense kind. I prefer it because of taste; I prefer it because it reminds me that I can soften and open up.

There is really no difference in the two; it’s still honey. My friend with blue eyes isnot any different to me than my friend with green eyes; the same goes for hair, skin, and country you come from. Even as yoga students, the deep structure of our emotional work is the same, we all have to work on the stuckness that we have inside. It’s only the surface that shows you as less flexible or hypermobile. There are students working on flexibility, others work on strength, yet we all store some amount of ‘ickiness’ in our bodies. Our work is to turn inward.

My view in California!

My view in California!

The consequences of our actions are the fruit of our choices. Life is messy and hard, sometimes sticky to say the least. When something is essentially the same it can still come in different shapes and textures. Look at a yoga pose that you’ve tried a year ago, it does not look the same as today. You’ve progressed because you’ve worked on it.

The yoga path reminds me of honey. Honey when heated will turn into a smooth liquid and it can sweeten up so many things, on a daily basis. Having you—my friend, my teacher, my student—in my life does exactly that to my soul. The icky spots in our bodies can soften; as we breathe into areas of stuckness we move them and warm them up. Through our sadhna (practice) we create tapas (heat). We make the honey soft.

When I look at the stars or when I scoop out a bit of honey to sweeten my tea, I’m reminded that we—together—share experiences and moments. I know that our path is in front of us and we evolved from where we were. Yet the stars have been there for thousands of years, evolving so slow we literally can’t grasp that concept. Only perhaps, with the thought of patience…? The stars are the eyes of the universe, sparkling and watching over the sweetness of life, moving with our breath, the core of our existence.