Ask. Listen. List.

Nine years ago I completed my first 200 hour yoga teacher training program.  It was a seven month program, that met once a month for a three day weekend of training.  There were 23 or so of us in the program.  We came from varying backgrounds in practice and education.  Each weekend was themed, such as anatomy, sequencing, philosophy, or business ethics.  For me, this built a great foundation for both my own yoga practice and learning how to become a teacher.  

Once I began teaching, I started taking supplemental workshops and trainings.  Workshops like Yoga of 12 Step Recovery, pre/post-natal, art of touch, yin yoga and various meditations.

Somehow with these additional trainings, it still felt like I had only scratched the surface of this 5,000 year old practice.

This past weekend I completed another 200 hour teacher training program.  Unlike the first, this program was strictly one to one with a teacher I have tremendous respect for.  We met for 90 minutes each week for one year (minus a few weeks for vacation or retreat).  I had an idea of things I wanted to learn and he had an outline of what he wanted to teach.  I think the two melded well with each other.  From the start, it felt like a natural two-way conversation between the two of us.

Ask. Listen. List.  Conversations often, if not always, have these three things.

WHAT IS YOGA?  This question is on nearly teacher training exam.  The traditional answer may be something like "union or yolk of breath, body, and mind."  What I find difficult about this question and answer is that there are so many ways to answer, because we all have our own interpretation.  And how we answer one question, can lead to many other questions.  If you look at this picture, I asked one of my students what yoga meant to her.  In short, she said that the flexibility of yoga leads to a feeling of qi.  And that yoga holds a space of safeness.  From there, other questions can then be asked.

One of the greatest takeaways I learned from this one-one training is the importance of thinking.  Thinking skillfully may include What do I want? What do I value? Who/what do I love? Who/what do I trust?  When looking at poses/shapes, thinking about influences such as who, what, how, and why.  Looking at ways to support a public class could include external physical support such as props, environmental such as sound, lighting, temperature, interpersonal such as listening, speaking or holding space.  Intention of base of support, breath shape, exploring physical layers of the body and concept of sequencing a class were discussed.  Conversations which encouraged thinking about Buddha dharma, doshas, root/stem/flower, dualism/non-dualism and meditation occurred.

Through this process of working one on one, I have come to realize so much about myself, my yoga and meditation practice, and the importance of continued study.   My hope is that yoga and the study of will always be in my life.