the 'Ytt' acronym unwraps to mean 'yoga teacher training' and last week i had my first very own ytt experience. this time i stood up at the front of the class instead of sitting cross-legged on the floor gaping at the trainer. although the idea of fronting to a group of beaming and open-faced yogis, sharing some of the goodness i've learned over the past few years is a daunting prospect, it's also something i've been waiting for and wanting to do since i took my first training as a student.
being posted to a training position was unplanned. PRAGYADHARA IS the wonderful lead trainer and yoga co-ordinator at kawai purapura retreat center in albany, auckland. she invited me to a job interview late last year and i thought we were meeting for a chat about teaching hatha classes but!... it turned out she was on the hunt for an 'applied anatomy' trainer. she somehow thought i had the goods to pull off teaching this module on her 200hr course and she wasn't phased by the idea that this would be my first ytt rodeo. a week later, i ran an audition lecture and she gave me the gig. Hooray! time to freak out now!
and so i did mildly freak out. but of course, deeply, i knew that i could pull this one off with the grace and integrity required. so i got down to preparing myself for six lectures. a total of nine hours teaching time, covering the musculoskeletal, respiratory, nervous and endocrine systems studied through the lens of yoga. i needed to distil the information that i have found most useful in my teaching career and figure out how best to pass that on. EASY. (?)
Now that the experience is in my rear-view mirror, i've had time to reflect and i'd like to share a few thoughts for anyone about to, or planning to, eventually head off down the same path.
advice numero uno:
believe it or not, my first reflection is to do less! or to be more precise, take less prepared notes with you.
i went on a mad overkill bent by writing all of my lectures up as powerpoint presentations. i TAPPED OUT every concept, down to the word, in my notes. a script, almost. this helped to build the shape of the lectures i presented and to massage everything into place mentally for me - order, pace and delivery of all the points i wanted to cover in each subject. now, while the writing part of this exercise was invaluable for putting everything into mental order, once it came to dishing out the goods in class, i found my notes were so detailed that they were too hard to read while presenting.
After my first lecture, i stripped back my notes to very basic bullet points. i know these subjects well, so really, preparation is more about deciding what and what-not to teach and the order of each lecture, rather than scripting the entire delivery. bullet points are fine for this. keep it simple and sweet.
this leads on nicely to my second observation.
leave space around each important point for discussion. students are students and they are likely hearing this particular set of knowledge for the first time in their lives. (OK, there are always students who already have an understanding of your subject but many are super-fresh to this game!) something that i will do differently in the future will be to time out my lectures with about 25% of the time left spare for discussion.
i learned that while you can explain a concept in full - even giving multiple examples and explanations to define it cleanly - people need to take on new knowledge from within the framework of their own experience and mindset.
you just. can't. predict. the angles from which people come at you asking you to re-define a concept further. because you're not them. different people, different perspectives, different ways of learning. it takes a bit of discussion sometimes, to do away with misconceptions and to clarify the true shape of something. to focus the lens, get it right and make sure all of your students have absorbed the correct definition of what you teaching there, teach.
so leave space for that.
finally, a piece of wisdom that applies specifically to somatic trainings. this one might seem obvious, but it almost caught me out.
when you teach an experiential subject, make space to allow for your students to have that experience themselves.
theorise! yes, of course! but then follow that up with some practice so that they get the real juice. every time.
a moment came about while we were riffing on some discussion and we detoured into a topic i hadn't planned on covering. yet here we were! and i was explaining what it feels like when you do this...... the smart thing to do here, even if it's off-the-cuff teaching, is to take your students into the experience and let them understand it somatically. especially with practices like yoga and meditation. especially!
my "last-last" brainwave is..... when you learn from ya own experiences, reflect and write it down so you don't forget for next time. hashtag, journallingontheblog. hashtag, lol.
if you're a trainer reading this, and you'd like to expand on any of these thoughts, please, speak! or if you have a separate little nugget of advice you'd like to share, please... please do! spread love!
check out the 200hr course at kawai purapura here, and this is the page of pure yoga with pragyadhara, a fully legit yogi, who is always running fantastic courses, if you wanna get yours :)xx
Also, Kawai purapura retreat center are hosting nz's first international yoga festival in february, so check em out!
THAT'S ALL FOLKS <3
throwing yourself down the rabbit hole of meditation without due diligence, without full understanding of what you're embarking on, without structure & support... well, you're rolling the dice.
there are a few common misconceptions about meditation: that it makes things 'easy'; that it's pleasant; that it fixes all that needs to be 'fixed'
in reality, your meditation practice can be challenging. on the periphery, just sitting still is a real pain for some people. as we go deeper, for meditation to give us clarity, first we have to go through the muck.
it takes a very mindful approach, best supported by people, teachers or guides, who understand the mental terrain & who can guide you through the course.
as they say in the vippasana method, a solid MEDITATION practice is akin to spiritual surgery - the opening of mental & emotional wounds, done so that you can sanitise them & no longer allow old experiences to influence your life. however, just as in surgery, you need qualified professionals to carry out the process & to oversee healing, if that is what is required.
jumping into a solid, daily 60 minute meditation practice without training, experience or a teacher to guide you is bold at best - dodgy at worst. not only do you need a reference to tell you what to do when you meet common obstacles, you also need a reference point for any negative stuff that comes up & advice on how to deal with it. i'm not saying that you need to spend hundreds of dollars on some guru quack course just to have someone play youtube mantra & blow incense in your face... but if your yoga studio has 'intro to meditation' courses, it might be worth taking one!! then at least you have a person, or point of contact, to check in with if & when you hit potholes in your practice.
because inevitably, you will. the whole point of meditation is to clear out old shit to make room for new insight, & even spiritual evolution. you need someone to rap with about this process. 100%.
my point is this. from the outside, yes, meditation is as simple as sitting still & closing your eyes. internally? there is a storied terrain containing your entire life story to navigate. take a navigator!
check this vice article on bad meditation experiences & keep it in mind if you decide to dive into a practice of your own. which is a freakin' great idea. just get some advice first! join a group, a studio, find a guru or community, do a course or hit me up. if you gonna do it, do it right.
yogi rod stryker talks about yoga & tradition; the importance of the teacher / student relationship & how that creates the unbreakable chain of lineage
When we take time out from our busy lives, when we slow down and explore our internal landscapes, we all inevitably arrive at the same experience. It is the discovery that we each harbour an endless reserve of power and capability.
In Yoga, we call the first layer of meditation, Pratyahara, or ‘withdrawal of the senses’.
In the ugly world of bullfighting, it is called Querencia. thankfully, it is a practice that empowers the bull and not its' opponent.
Querencia is a state that the matador does not want the bull to achieve. If the bull, taunted and enraged, is able to step back from battle, even for a moment, it has the opportunity to gather itself.
Tara Brach writes about it in her book Radical Acceptance...
“.. in the midst of a fight, the bull can find his own particular area of safety within the arena. There he can reclaim his strength and power. This place and inner state are called querencia”
The job of the matador is to keep the bull engaged in battle, and therefore, off balance. If the bull manages to find a moment of pause, it experiences remembrance of its most authentic self, apart from the violent situation at hand. It recalls that it is an 850kg beast of intelligence, which has the capability to outsmart and defeat a scrawny little human being.
The bullfights in which the matador does not triumph are invariably the bullfights in which the beautiful beast has captured moments of querencia.
Querencia is the ability to withdraw from the aggravating circumstance of battle (or life!); evaluate the situation clearly; draw strength from the inner well; then continue with the fight ahead.
This is when the bull becomes a ‘truly dangerous’ individual...
...with a regular meditation practice, so do you
#querencia #pratyahara #meditation #animalkingdom
IMAGE - WWW.KERRYBEALL.COM
why is mantra so important?
the word mantra itself means 'to expand and protect the mind'
man = mind + tra = expand and protect
everything in existence has a vibration and each vibration has A SOUND. the source of all life originates in this simple concept.... if it vibrates and creates a sound, it is an example of manifest creation. and that is why mantra is the supreme object of meditation.
Focussing your meditation on a vibration of spiritual quality such as a mantra imbues the mind with the attributes of the mantra. different mantra have the power to enlighten, expand and transform your mental qualities.
some have been around for eons and have been chanted by millions of people over thousands of years. they are their own energy imprint that exist on their own plane. by aligning yourself with the mantra, you rest in the palm of that mantra and it's own unique energetic vibration.
chanting your chosen mantra ALOUD works with the conscious mind, while chanting silently goes deeper into the unconscious layers and is the most powerful path to transformation, or remodelling of your subconscious programs.
my favourite is the gayatri mantra.
the first time i was made to chant this 108 times, i found it impossible and annoying. and since then i have loved it.
the gayatri first appeared in the rig veda, an ancient vedic text written around 1800bc. it was referred to in the upanishads & is called out as 'the poem of the divine' in the bhagavad gita.
It's an ancient and sacred blessing of three layers.
first, it offers gratitude to the never-ending embrace of savitur, the sun. second, it is a call for guidance, wisdom and enlightenment and assistance along the path to meditation. and finally, it is reverence to the divine in all things.
as far as mantras go, she's a bit of a babe.
repeating it 108 times takes around 30 minutes and can be considered a complete meditation, whether you chant along vocally or silently.
i've posted my favourite version from youtube to assist you in your meditation. sometimes i just put it on when i'm alone and allow it to be a friend to me while i potter.
here are the words and translation:
bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dheemahi
dhiyo yo nah prachodayaate"
"Eternal light of the soul
whose radiance dissolves the darkness of the three lower worlds
your glory can be felt in the resplendence of the sun
please purify our minds and guide us towards meditation"
we'll explore this mantra tonight in class
corban estate arts center
see you there x
#mantra #gayatri #yoga #meditation #kohayoga #auckland
The chakras are the seven major energetic intersections in the body that run from Muladhara chakra, the ‘four-petal lotus flower’ at the base of the spine to Sahasrara chakra, the ‘thousand-petal lotus flower’, just beyond the crown of the head.
Each chakra has a certain number of energetic pathways, also called nadis, which pulse through them, giving them their ‘flower shape’. accordingly, each chakra has a specific number of ‘petals’, the same in every human body.
But how do these energy centers relate to the Sanskrit language?
If you think of the chakras in their lotus flower form, and add up the number of petals from Muladhara, the base chakra, to Ajna, the sixth chakra, (excluding the seventh, crown, chakra), you would count exactly 50 petals.
Muladhara has four ‘petals’ or corners to its shape. The second chakra, Swadhisthana has six. The third, Manipura, has ten. Anahata has 12. Visuddhu, 16. And Ajna has 2. Together, 50 petals.
HERE’s THE THING. Those 50 petals, or nadis, each emits its own vibration, its own specific sound.
The ancient Yogis became so still and silent in their meditations that they could hear these universal sounds and they became the 50 syllables of the Sanskrit alphabet. Put together as a chant, the Sanskrit alphabet becomes the Mantra Laya. But that’s another story ;)
And the seventh chakra? Sahasrara is the culmination of all of the Sanskrit sounds which combine to become the sound of AUM, or OM. The collective sound of creation, containing all of the sounds of the universe.
Sounds like magic, but it's science!
#yogaphilosophy #tantra #hatha #mantra #sanskrit #chakra #mantralaya #om
I'VE FINALLY GOT THIS KOHA YOGA THING INTO A STUDIO! it's something that has been on my mind for such a long, long time that i want to share the story... to release it from my brain and let it out into the world! here we go....
YEARS AGO, I HAD A 'ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME' EXPERIENCE in MEDITATION. I TOUCHED 'THAT SPACE' WHICH IS FORMLESS, NAMELESS. I FELT like i was being HELD AND SUPPORTED IN A CRADLE OF UNBREAKABLE PEACE AND ENDLESS JOY. IT. WAS. DIVINE.
LITERALly. CONNECTION. WITH. THE. DIVINE. 💫
THE THOUGHT THAT IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED MY FEELING OF CONNECTION WAS THAT I WANTED MY MOTHER, MY SISTERS, MY FATHER, MY FRIENDS, MY COUSINS... EVERYONE whom I LOVE TO EXPERIENCE THIS MOMENT, this FEELING OF SUCH WHOLENESS, THE MEMORY OF WHICH WILL SUPPORT ME THROUGH THE REST OF MY LIFE.
A YEAR LATER, I HAD THE SAME FEELING AGAIN. THIS TIME WITH PSYCHEDELICS. SAME FEELING, DIFFERENT PATH. BUT AGAIN IT FELT LIKE SOMETHING SO PRECIOUS AND VALUABLE THAT I'D CALL IT ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENT. FOR THE SECOND TIME.
TWO YEARS LATER, THE ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME FEELING, BUT THIS TIME THROUGH A YIN YOGA PRACTICE. UNBREAKABLE PEACE, ENDLESS JOY, A FEELING OF COMPLETENESS AND A THOUGHT THAT I WANTED TO SHARE THIS SOMEHOW.
EXCEPT THIS TIME DIFFERED SLIGHTLY. I FELT GRATUITOUS, SPOILT. WHY DO I HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE, NOT ONCE OR TWICE, BUT THREE TIMES? HOW DO I SHARE IT?
AND THEN I THOUGHT OF ALL THE PEOPLE IN MY LIFE WHO COULD BENEFIT, REALLY THRIVE, WITH A YOGA PRACTICE IN THEIR DAILY ROUTINE. ALL OF THE PRACTICES THAT HAD BOUGHT ME TO THIS PLACE AND THIS FEELING: MEDITATION; PSYCHEDELICS; YOGA PRACTICE... THEY'RE ALL PART OF THE YOGA SYSTEM. (PSYCH'S FALL UNDER THE LEFT-HANDED PATH OF TANTRA).
THE PEOPLE WHO WERE CALLED FORTH IN MY MIND TO SHARE THIS FEELING WITH.... THEY COULD NOT AFFORD TO FLY TO INDIA TO MEDITATE FOR 10 DAYS AS I DID. THEY CAN'T TAKE A MONTH OUT OF LIFE TO STUDY YOGA IN BALI. IN FACT THE REASON THEY SPRUNG TO MIND AS THE DESERVING RECIPIENTS OF YOGA IS BECAUSE THEY'RE PEOPLE WHO ARE SQUEEZED FROM EVERY SIDE. RAISED IN POVERTY. DIDN'T FINISH SCHOOL. CHILDREN FROM A YOUNG AGE. POOR DIETS, UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLE. UNEMPLOYED. TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS. SMOKERS, DRINKERS, DRUG USERS. AND NO, I'M NOT DESCRIBING DIFFERENT GROUPS OF PEOPLE, I'M TALKING ABOUT ONE GROUP WHO HAVE ALL OF THESE FACTORS WORKING AGAINST THEM IN THEIR ONE PRECIOUS LIFE. PEOPLE THAT I KNOW AND LOVE. some of them, family. BORN INTO SUCH TOUGH CIRCUMSTANCES WITH SO LITTLE SUPPORT THAT THEY NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO THRIVE. NEVER. THEY'RE AT THE BOTTOM LOOKING UP AND A YOGA PRACTICE COULD LITERALLY TRANSFORM THEIR LIVES!
BUT HERE'S THE RUB. THEY'RE Not GOING TO WALK INTO A YOGA STUDIO AND START PRACTICING BECAUSE MOST YOGA STUDIOS DON'T LOOK LIKE A safe SPACE FOR THEM at all. YOGA, especially as it is viewed ONLINE, HAS BECOME THE DOMAIN OF SKINNY, BENDY GYMNASTS. THEse instagram PICTURES DOn'T IMPART A SEnse of healing or empowerment at all?! so how does that invite someone who's never been fit, can't afford $30-$40 a week for membership and can't touch their toes, to start? of course they won't venture into that intimidating space.
so we're bringing it to the peeps. koha yoga. pay what you can afford, just come.
we've had three classes so far with a wonderful response and we hope to do many, many more.
corban estate arts center
tuesdays at 7pm
saturdays at 9am
learn the philosophy of yoga and build a regular practice. we practice in a beautiful, neutral studio space and all are welcome. mats and blocks provided if you don't have them. our aim is that eventually you will have a solid understanding of this incredible science and a hunger for it too.
follow the event here for updates:
koha yoga fb event
There are many modern misconceptions about Yoga but one of the greatest is this – that Yoga is about Love ❤ Or that Yoga is about spirituality 🙏🏽 Or fitness 🏃♀️ Or flexibility? Although the practice of Yoga can inspire each of these elements, it can't be described as any of them alone. In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, one of the ancient Yogic texts, the word ‘flexible’ isn't even mentioned, not once!
The true essence of Yoga, according to the Hatha tradition, is
⚡ POWER ⚡
Through the seven progressive stages of Hatha, you work to (1) purify and (2) strengthen the body; to (3) calm and (4) stabilize the mind🌑; to (5) develop sensitivity to your subtle body and then to (6) train yourself to expand and direct your energy ☀️ to your own best use
It is ENERGY MANAGEMENT, pure and simple. The creation and transferal of PRANA, so that you can thrive and carry out your life's mahi (work). This strong reserve of conscious energy is important because the seventh and final stage of Hatha progression is (7) ILLUMINATION 🔥 and once you reach this point, you’re gonna need alllllllllll the power that you can possibly get 😉😉 But that’s another story about MAHAD
#yogaphilosophy #traditionalyoga #hatha #taketantraback
#dharma #mahad #sevenstages #power #yogini #kohayoga