Yoga teachers often use the word grounded. It’s a verb (to ground through the feet) and an adjective (a grounded feeling). But what does that really mean? It’s a yoga cliche, a phrase that’s used so often it’s lost some of its punch. And most of us didn’t know the definition to begin with.
Guest post by Christa Avampato
“As a man adorns worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within.” ~ 2:22
On Labor Day weekend in 2009, my apartment building caught fire. I was almost trapped inside and only by following my intuition was I able to get out in time. Almost all of my belongings were lost to extensive smoke damage. September 5, 2009 was a kind of death date for me; a date when stripped of almost all my material possessions, I realized that none of it mattered at all. I stood outside in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, holding nothing but my keys, watching my apartment building burn. Looking back, I think of that day as a day when I stepped out of my old, worn-out Self, and into a new frame. I still don’t know what the art inside this new frame will look like just yet. I’m a work-in-progress.
Verse 2:22 in the Bhagavad Gita, one of the texts I had to read for my yoga teacher training, resonated with me, as does that image of Shiva, the Destroyer, dancing in a ring of fire. Sometimes we get in the way of our own personal development. We get bogged down with belongings, material and emotional. We need not stand on a burning platform, literally nor figuratively, to recognize that change is needed. Yoga can be the practice that helps us recognize our truth, our purpose, our dharma.
Yoga teacher training is opening up my eyes to a whole new world.
As part of my yoga teacher training, we attend Kirtans, a lovely, free-form mash-up of music, call and response, and chanting. I’d never been to one before, and to be honest had never even heard of them. Now I wish I had known about them years ago!
“If you make a rule [or tell yourself a story], be prepared to stand by it with conviction. Also be prepared to change it at any moment.” ~ Will Duprey
My brain is growing exponentially. I’ve been practicing yoga, mostly at home, for 11 years. I read about it, write about it, talk about it, practice it almost daily, and yet this teacher training is growing my practice and consciousness by leaps and bounds, and we’re only two weeks in to a 12 week program. Today Will Duprey, one of my teachers, taught us to fly by grounding us. Continue reading
I began my vinyasa yoga teacher training last Saturday. My head’s been swimming with Sanskrit, ancient Hindu texts, and physiology. I had a moment, or rather many moments, of panic. Maybe I’m in over my head. Maybe this process was a very bad idea given the vertical learning curve I’m clearly on, with no end in sight. It was all a bit overwhelming until one of my instructors, Johanna, made a very simple statement that put the entire teacher training process in perspective for me. “As you are in the mat so you are in the world.” And for that matter, vice versa. Continue reading
There’s a new teacher training program in town. Om Factory, home of AcroYoga and Aerial Yoga, is launching its TT in six weeks. Holly Coles and Amanda Wentworth, two seriously experienced yogis, will lead it. (Holly is in the Tripsichore yoga/dance troupe, with the DVD so difficult that no one can do it, and Amanda has over one THOUSAND hours of certifications.)
In Yoga Journal last month, there was an article about three Olympic athletes are use yoga as a serious component of their training: Chandra Crawford (cross-country skier), Emily Brydon (alpine skier), and Shannon Deanne Bahrke (freestyle skier). As someone who is considering how to build a love of yoga into a career, this is another reminder that there are so many ways this can play out.
“For those just coming back from vacation, think carefully about what you are going to put your fresh, valuable mind to in your first few days. Value this resource highly. It may be your only chance to see the mountain you are on, to decide if you’re taking the right path up, or even if it’s the right mountain to be climbing at all.” ~ David Rock in Psychology Today
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on clearing my mind more often during the day. The natural tendency for a busy mind is to work ever-harder to crack a problem or find an innovative solution. The yogic belief is that a clear, unburdened, relaxed mind is actually a more creative, efficient problem solver. And now that belief has a boost from hardcore science.
A decade ago, a friend of mine noticed the toll that stress was taking on my life. I was in a new career and drowning. He threw me a lifeline and offered to give me private yoga lessons. Not realizing the tremendous offer that he put on the table, I told him I didn’t have time. Without batting an eye, he told me to make time because this work would be important. Then I told him I didn’t have any money for yoga, and he told me he’d teach me for free. The only payment he requested was that I pay forward the favor if I found yoga helpful. His offer changed my life because yoga allowed me to generate and hold peace in the palm of my hand.