I spent the last four days in a 40-hour intensive yoga teacher training program at a local studio here in the District (hence the late post). I’ve been playing with the idea of teacher training for a bit and fell in love with this specific studio’s program in large part because of their focus on hands-on assists, but also because they require this initial 40 hours before you can register for the other 160 hours that result in your certification.
They want to make sure you’re settled in–at the studio and to your commitment to both learn and, eventually, teach.
Being on the fence regarding whether or not I want to pursue a full 200-hour certification but looking to deepen my own practice, this weekend seemed ideal.
It absolutely was, and, as it turns out, last week’s VOW had a lot to do with it.
Have you ever learned a new word and then suddenly started to see it everywhere? That’s kind of what happened to me these past four days. In fact, that’s what happened to me on a consistent basis when I played a version of this VOW game a few years ago. Each week, each verb seemed to show up for me, and settle was no different–it met me on the mat in a handful of different ways every day to teach me all that I would let it.
It started with my intentions for the training: Stay on the mat. When given the opportunity, challenge my comfort zone (e.g., volunteer for a demo, ask a question, etc.). Gain confidence in touching others. (That looks creepy.) Develop my voice; get comfortable using it. Be open to others; if you find someone uninteresting or irritating, the fault lies in you. SETTLE IN.
To be honest, I’m not sure why I wrote the last two words. Given that it was my VOW, settling had been on my mind, but I didn’t know exactly what I meant by it when I listed it as in intention. I just knew it felt right.
And as yogi Baron Baptiste says, “Your intuition is always right. ALWAYS.”
And it was.
Settle showed up for me in the form of 22 fellow yogis. It invited me to extend a hand or a hello in our first awkward meeting. It challenged me to accept them as a comrade and teacher without knowing anything more than that they had shown up too and for that to be enough. To take feedback from them and to give it, accepting and extending it as a precious gift. It gave me the chance to hold space for them to root and rise and fall and start again. And to be held by them (both figuratively and quite literally).
Settle made me touch their sacrum or pelvic bone and get comfortable there. It made me realize how energy and intention can be so powerfully communicated with the slightest bit of pressure, and that this is not only a responsibility but a gift. It reminded me that touch is not a part of everyone’s life–in the absence of a romantic relationship or close friends or family nearby, people can go years without human contact. It made me conscious of this and has be considering how I can not only hold space for another but perhaps a hand. We were made to touch.
Settle showed up as acceptance of their very-different-from-mine yoga bodies as I held those bones with reverence and awe. It showed up as acceptance of my strong-back-soft-stomach-weak-tricep-flexible-hamstring-knock-kneed yoga body. It’s hard to hate it when you see what it can do.
Settle showed up as a focal point that told me I was strong enough all along and finally allowed me to fly. I’ve been trying to get into crow pose for longer than I can remember, and I’ve always focused at a spot a few inches in front of my face. Turns out if I look farther ahead, finding a drishti a foot and a half or so in front of me, I can come into the posture and hold it.
Settle showed up as a reminder that yoga (and life) is a process; it’s called a yoga practice for a reason. As Baptiste wrote:
There is no prize for perfect poses…The point is that sometimes results are barely visible, but every fraction of an inch of progress is meaningful. Don’t seek better poses, a perfect body, or an immediate inner peace. Let go of the ambition and embrace the practice of peeling back your layers. Just be where you are, play your edge, and the prizes will be revealed along the way. Transformation is a process to be lived. It cannot be captured or possessed; you can only participate in it.
So settle in here; take a few breaths.
Steph’s SETTLE textual inspiration:
“…to live in this world
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”
Steph’s Song of the Week: Humble & Kind by Lori McKenna
Be sure to read Lin’s post on SETTLE.