Day 83

Style: Teacher Training
Teachers: Mark Laham, Louise Sattler, Todd Lavictoire
Studio: Greco

It's been so long. Actually, it's only been two weeks, but the space-time continuum must be shifting because I feel like I've been away from my teacher training for a lot longer. Nevertheless, today I'm back in my element for another 8-hour intensive, the third weekend in the first 80-hour module of Mark, Louise and Todd's training program. As soon as we got settled we plunged right in, studying the 8 limbs of yoga in detail. Not only is the subject matter absolutely fascinating, Todd's teaching style fully consumed my attention and again I felt myself absorbing the information, processing and internalizing it. Next we moved on to the 5 paths of yoga. Jnana yoga is the path of knowledge or wisdom. Essentially it's the use of the mind to transcend the mind. Knowledge in this sense is not necessarily a collection of data, but is more so the study of scripture and information, then synthesizing that into the light of personal experience. Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion or love, referring to emotional connections made in life, to family, friends, a teacher and so on. Karma yoga is the path of selfless service, to serve humanity without attachment or expectation. It literally translates to "union through action". Kriya yoga is the path of technique and it's the main reason we're all at this teacher training. It's the method of preparing the body for meditation by practicing asana, or posture. Essentially it's the physical aspect of yoga, and often here in the west the word "yoga" is usually referring to this path. Finally there is Raja yoga, or Royal yoga. This path is basically a fusion of the previous 4 paths, incorporating them into one cohesive whole.

After a few hours of study and analysis we moved on to the practice itself. Today's focus was on twists. A twisting practice works out the parasympathetic nervous system, helping with digestion, pacifying all the Ayurvedic energies of Kapha, Pitta and Vatta, as well as focusing on the third, second, fifth and sixth chakras. By the end I felt like a wet towel that had been wrung out by a world championship wrestler, and I was more then ready for lunch.

Upon return Louise took over the class and we delved further into the anatomy of the spine. We studied the various intricacies of the spinal cord, learning the effect of different postures on skeletal structure. Next we delved back into the yoga sūtras of Patañjali. We focused on the third and twelfth from book one, drawing a deeper look at the meanings behind the ancient words. We also made some thirty-day commitments. The first was a promise to solidify a daily affirmation. This will be done by choosing a Yin style posture every day and repeating an internal mantra, over and over again for about five undisturbed minutes. I chose the mantra that "all the answers are within me". Resurfacing back into reality afterward, I felt a sense of calm, a sense that my journey doesn't need to take me far and wide because all that I seek is close to home. I don't need to find and outside authority to obtain clarity and understanding. The answers to any questions I have and more that will arise as time goes on can be found within my own being.

Our other thirty-day commitment was to create a list of all the things we had always wanted to do, but never actually got around to doing. Of that list we had to choose one, then do it everyday for thirty days, for fifteen minutes each day. From all the things in my list, I chose to cultivate a daily meditation practice. It's something I've always intended to do, but in the chaos of everyday life I find it surprisingly difficult to stop the world and take some time to quiet my mind and chill. I mean, I do it every now and then, but it's far from a practice that I do very often. Today was the first day. I closed my eyes and traveled inward, focusing on my breathing. As the time passed, my mind did what it usually does - drifts off into some storyline or another and gets tangled up in the thought process. Every time it did, I gently reminded it to return to focus on my breathing. Eventually the most peculiar thing began to happen. I felt something stirring inside me. It started with a lighthearted, happy energy. After that I started to get the sense of an inner space, a growing vastness within myself. Just as soon as it began the fifteen minutes were up and we were all brought back to the room. Saying our goodbyes until we meet again tomorrow, I gathered my things and climbed back into my car. I leave today with a firm resolve to take the time everyday, just a short fifteen minutes, to stop and turn my focus inward. It has been said that meditation is the practice of slowing and directing the mind to a single point or purpose, to slow the momentum of thought and eventually abide in our real nature. I'm into it.


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