Crucial Life Lessons I Learned from Yoga Teacher Training
After an enriching experience living at the Blue Osa Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica and truly embracing minimalism and inner peace, I decided to take the next step in deepening my practice and sign up for Yoga Teacher Training with YogaWorks.
It's now been a month since I completed my 200-hour teacher training. With time to absorb, reflect on, and understand the life changes I experienced, I have observed an improvement in not only my daily routine but also in my interactions with others. I am excited to share the lessons that I feel made the biggest difference in my life.
The 90-Second Rule
When triggered, anger - or the effects of cortisol causing the feeling of anger or fear - is but a brief emotion that lasts about 90 seconds. Feelings beyond that 90-second window are a result of our own attachment to that emotion, causing a continuous release of the stress hormone.
I've actively remained conscious of this lesson from the moment I learned it. Frequently absorbed and suffocated by worry, stress, and grudges, to accept that those feelings were my own fault, was a difficult pill to swallow.
So, I thought about my life. My romantic relationships. Friendships. My supposed natural disdain for shitty people who have hurt me in the past, or betrayed my trust. And even in those thoughts I would feel my face heating up and my heart rate rising. Reliving the situations that hurt me made me angry!
So I let it go. I stopped remembering. Remembering upset me. Holding on made me angry. Why was I holding on to things that hurt me? Why not acknowledge the pain, let it go, and hold on to things that make me feel good?
Now, when upset, I give myself 90 seconds. I step away. I allow that hormone to release in a safe place and just breath. I do not permit the situation to take hold of my day, conversation, or relationships. Since then, I've noticed a dramatic change in my life because of it.
Live life in Tadasana
Tadasana, mountain pose, was the last asana that I thought would "save" me. In yoga teacher training, our instructors Jeanmarie and Elizabeth made it a point, early on, to stress the importance of Tadasana as a foundation in our asana practice. For me, it became much more.
Tadasana exposed me. It exposed my insecurities. It exposed my scars.
As a tall girl growing up primarily in a Latin (short) community, you can imagine that my life involved me towering over almost every other person. Every day I prepared myself for school by analyzing my reflection and thinking of new ways I could slouch and appear shorter. I was tired of being called a tree, giraffe, or any other tall, skinny comparison both children and adults could think of.
So I slouched. And I curved my long neck towards the floor to lower my head as far down as possible. I curled into myself, becoming shy, introverted, and only semi-confident when I was sitting down, haunted by the anxiety of knowing I'll have to stand back up eventually.
Tadasana brought all of that to light. Being called out in a posture lab wasn't just embarrassing, but confusing. I was standing as tall as I could in the lab and yet it was still not enough. Because I had years of damage. Years of samskaras that I allowed to consume me.
Jeanmarie and Elizabeth began at my feet, encouraging me to press into all four corners of my feet, as opposed to only my heels. They acknowledged the hyperextension in my knees and posterior pelvic tilt - most likely accentuated by a childhood of trying to shorten my body - and encouraged me to lift my front thighs and turn my inner thighs in, toward the back of the room.
I immediately noticed a difference. The natural curve in my lumbar spine appeared. My belly bulge reduced. My torso lifted. I stood well and tall.
Everyday after that, I practiced my Tadasana. On the subway. At parties. Waiting at the crosswalk. And I noticed a difference in my personality. I was more confident. I even found myself releasing those feelings of embarrassment and shame for being tall. In fact, I felt proud of being tall. I would pass tall people and wish I was even taller!
Now I live my life in Tadasana, both literally and figuratively. Tadasana is more than a basis for alignment, stabilization, and elongation; Tadasana is a foundation in which I found my confidence, self-appreciation, and desire to treat my body as my temple on and off the mat.