300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training – Week Four

Initially when I started on May 1st, I had plans to be finished with the 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) by the end of July.  I thought I could put in 7.5 hours of studying from Monday to Friday every week so that I can finish in two months.  The goal was quite ambitious, and by the end of week one, it became very clear that I would not be able to study from 7AM to 3:30PM (with two 30 minute breaks in between).  The second week, I let go of the rigid schedule a little too much and barely got anything done.  I started to doubt whether or not I could stay disciplined to finish the program.  I also started to feel insecure about the video exams that I would have to submit (two 75-minute videos each module as well as a video recording of me lecturing on a Yoga-related topic).  By week three, I found a good balance of planning but expecting disruptions which really helped me to approach this AYTT with discipline and grace.  Last week was a great week of progress even though I had more distractions and disruptions than the first three weeks.

My daughter started her summer job as a life guard last week.  Being that she gets scheduled at various locations, I’ve had to schedule my yoga practices and studying around when I had to drive her.  So when I wasn’t chauffeuring her around or teaching virtual classes/private sessions and an hour-long hangout with a friend, I was in my home office/yoga studio studying, listening and watching lectures on Anatomy and Asanas (yoga poses), I found it challenging to stay engaged through all the lectures, but I committed to listening, watching and paying attention for some potential nuggets of information/wisdom that would spark a “Wow” moment within me… and it happened with this quote:

“STRESS IS THE ABSENCE OF AWARENESS”

This quote really got me thinking.  I started to think about how when we are not mentally/emotionally/spiritually in our bodies, we begin to experience regrets (thinking about the past) and fears (thinking about the future) which cause us to experience a neurochemical imbalance, which then leads to the body experiencing stress.  How often do you find yourself not living in the moment?  How many moments do you remember from each day?  Do you find that your Monday bleeds into your Tuesday… and then before you know it, it’s Sunday evening and you don’t know where the week went?  I ask these questions because I have personally experienced all those scenarios.  I do find myself not being aware when I’m worrying or stressing out about the what-ifs of the future.  When I catch myself letting my mind drift this way, I immediately bring myself back to my body and mind by doing the following pranayama (breath control) practice:

  1. Stand or sit still, with both feel firmly planted into the ground.
  2. Either close your eyes or allow your gaze to become fixed on one non-moving object (do not try this while driving).
  3. If you’re standing, become aware of the ground underneath your feet.  Notice how the ground feels on your feet.
  4. Become aware of your breath going in and out through your nostrils.
  5. Feel the belly rise and fall with each breath.
  6. Notice any sounds that you hear.
  7. Notice the scenery that you see.
  8. Take a moment to smile and give thanks to God for that very moment.

I encourage you to try the awareness exercise and comment below about your experience!  🙏

With Gratitude,
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300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training – Week Three

The saying, “Third time’s a charm” definitely fits how last week went with the Virtual 300-Hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) that I started on June 1st.  I was extremely rigid and strict with my study schedule the first week which led to some unnecessary stress, so I decided to go the totally opposite direction on the second week with being unstructured which resulted in barely getting anything done.  I knew I needed to find a balance between the two extreme approaches.  So last week (Week Three), I decided to somehow marry both approaches and here is what happened:

“Sadhana” is the Yoga Practice and Meditation required for this AYTT.

I started the week by creating a schedule but working around some social appointments that I decided to add in (FaceTiming with one of my best friends in North Carolina, having lunch with another best friend here in Texas, etc.).  I made sure that I was getting an average of 5 hours of studying per day, so on the days that I was teaching a class or meeting with clients (all virtually), I did not schedule any social appointments.  I made a checklist on my dry erase board and checked off the tasks as I finished them.  I decided to take Monday off from studying so that I can spend the day with my daughter since I knew she would be gone all day from Tuesday-Friday due to Lifeguard Training and Testing.

My schedule felt more balanced, but I still found myself having to protect my study times; a friend of mine wanted me to meet her and some other friends at the pool on Friday, and part of me felt bad saying no two weeks in a row.  I tried to compromise and agreed to stop by for 30 minutes which ended up not happening anyway because one of my private clients had to reschedule her appointment to Friday morning.  Speaking of clients, I’m always encouraging my private clients to not be apologetic about protecting their schedules, whether it be due to family, school, home business, etc.  Most of us who are homeschool moms, stay-at-home moms, small business owner or working from home can relate with each other on having to protect their schedules.  But the reason why I decided to compromise initially is because it’s also important to know when you’re being too strict or rigid with your schedule (which was my case the first week of my AYTT studies).

LESSON LEARNED DURING WEEK THREE: FAITH & GUNAS

One of the topics from Yoga Philosophy was about gunas.  Gunas are three basic qualities of nature and energy that are present in all things under God’s universe. They are the original elements which are behind all existing beings with life in them.

Tamas represents the element of heaviness and rigidness, Rajas represents hyperactive energy, and Sattva represents harmony and equilibrium.

These elements are available for anyone to harness, although tamas and rajas are not the qualities one would benefit from having.  There are many articles and books that explain the gunas in detail (you can find a great 5-minute read on Yoga International), but for today, I’m going to focus only on how it’s related to one’s faith.

A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:4-9

Having a tamasic faith causes one to struggle in keeping their faith when obstacles come.  In Matthew 13:20-21 reads, “The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

One with a rajasic faith uses their faith for selfish gains and is motivated by recognition and/or rewards.  In the next verse in Matthew (13:22) it reads, “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

Sattvic faith, which causes one to use their faith selflessly by sharing their faith, hope and contentment with others, is the kind of faith that will last.  In Matthew 13:23, Jesus says, “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

There are various factors that play into raising your sattva element, but one way to create a sattvic state is in your food choices.  If you eat foods that tend to be heavy such as fast foods and processed foods, you will experience more tamasic qualities (stubborness and unwillingness to compromise).  If you eat foods that cause spikes in energy such as caffeine and sugar (even smoking is in this category), you will notice that you struggle more with staying still mentally and physically, and you will find yourself becoming hyperactive and get distracted easily.  In order to experience the sattvic state, it will be beneficial to eat healthy foods that cause lightness such as fresh organic fruits and vegetables as well as non-processed foods.  So grab that organic apple and take a nice bite and smile, knowing that you just did your body, mind and faith a lot of good!  🍏❤️

With Gratitude,
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300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training: Week Two

Before I begin this week’s blog, I want to let you know why I’m writing about my 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) journey:  First of all, I’m using it as a journal so that I can document the changes that I make throughout this program.  Secondly, I’m hoping that any yogis out there that are considering going through a YTT — whether it’s their first YTT or an additional 300 hours after their initial 200 hours — can use my blogs to make a decision on whether or not they’re ready to commit to a program.  Lastly, I want to speak to the Christian community out there, that you can absolutely be a committed, God-fearing, Jesus-loving Christian and go through a YTT without feeling like you have to denounce your faith.  In fact, Yoga is not a religion but rather a tool to enhance your faith.
Now let’s get into Week Two of 300-Hour YTT…

I learned from the first week that I can’t be super rigid with my YTT schedule.  Being that I’m taking an online YTT that’s taking place in Thailand and (Bali) Indonesia, I haven’t been able to participate in any of the live online trainings (I’ve been watching the sessions that they record during the live trainings).  The good thing is that I can study whenever I would like.  The bad thing is (also) that I can study whenever I would like.  I went from being super organized to the point of getting too rigid the first week to being very laid back this week.  I got more reading done, but I found myself strolling in and out of my home yoga studio/office and taking more breaks than I really needed.  I woke up later and started my yoga practice later which made coordinating “quiet times” in the house more tricky (my family uses the blender for smoothies every mid-morning).  Even though I have an extremely supportive family who are more than willing to modify their morning schedule to minimize noise during my 2-hour yoga practice in the mornings, I just didn’t want to inconvenience them in this way.  Somehow, I got all of my yoga and meditation practice done every day (except for last Tuesday because I woke up feeling a bit dizzy).  Towards the end of the week, I decided to try using my wireless earbuds during the yoga and meditation practices which worked out great!

LESSON LEARNED DURING WEEK TWO:

Each day felt like they were just flying by. I would get sidetracked with some things around the house and by the time I sat down to study, it would already be 4PM!  I started feeling down that I couldn’t keep up with the daily schedule that I created for myself.  On the flip side though, I was learning more and more about yoga philosophy and even about God’s will for me.  In the book that I’m currently reading (Inside The Yoga Sutras), the author (Jaganath Carrera) compares having an inaccurate view of yourself is like looking at your reflection in a cracked mirror.  The cracks represent our non-virtuous tendencies and traumas, so looking at yourself through a cracked mirror and believing that that’s exactly the way you look is the same as believing that you are those tendencies (i.e.- I am lazy, I am selfish, I am worthless, etc.).  Once you fix the mirror so that the cracks are gone, you are finally able to see a clear, accurate image of yourself.

The way that we can apply this to our lives as Christians is this:  We are not the sins that we struggle with.  We are not lazy, selfish, impure, impatient, prideful, etc.  These are the things we may struggle with, but these do not define us.  We need to “clean up” and “fix” the mirror with the Word of God so that we can see our true reflection.  God has made us fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:14).

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Psalm 139.14

One of the ways we can begin to “restore the mirror” is by opening the Word of God and incorporating the scriptures into your yoga and meditation practice.  If you don’t know how to do this or you would like to see how I practice these things, join me in my monthly virtual Scriptural Yoga & Biblical Meditation workshop and/or pick up a copy of my book, “Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation.”

As I start Week Three of the 300-Hr YTT, my goal is to figure out a certain consistency without being too rigid.  I will let you know next Monday how this week went!

With Gratitude,
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