18 September 2010

The First Day

Last night was our first session at yoga teacher training (YTT), and it “officially” began in a rather surprising way. The entry was typical – students entering the lobby, signing in, chatting with one another as more students joined. Eventually it was time to begin, and the trainer advised us each to pick up our books from the stacks and head into studio 2.

We opened with three Oms. After some chatting about the benefits of the training and introductions of the trainer (Dani), her assistant (Jackie), and the student assistant (Ashley), Dani had us open one of the books to a page with a chant.

We officially started our class with singing. Yes, I know, singing and chanting are not really the same thing. But for someone who has developed a bit of a phobia of singing in public over the past few years, they are similar enough that this caused more than a little mental discomfort. I even experience that in my regular yoga classes when we finish with an Om.

I don’t like the sound of my voice when singing. This did not used to be a problem for me… I have sung onstage (in a chorus, but still, quite publicly!). As a matter of fact, I sang “solo” in a theatre production years ago, though thankfully for my nerves, I was offstage (a lullaby at the opening of the second act of The Crucible, in which I played Elizabeth Proctor). But since I’ve had my son, I’ve sung more around the house. And well, I really have no natural talent for it. When I practice and train my voice, I can be a decent chorus component. But without diligent practice, I just sound goofy and off key. Which is just fine when you are singing for a 2 year old, because he likes to be goofy and could care less if you can carry a tune.

So, back to the chant. To get over my anxiety about “singing” in public, I focused on the vibration in my chest rather than listening to the sound of my voice. It mostly worked. Lucky me, I’ll have plenty of time to work on this – we will open every class with this chant. *sigh*

Despite my whining, it is a beautiful chant, and I know that once we are all familiar with it, the sound in the studio as we chant together is going to be amazing. This is the invocation between teacher and student from the Katha Upanishad. Hear it here (youtube link)
Sahana Vavatu
Sahanau Bhunaktu
Saha Viryam Karavavahai
Tejasvinau Adhitamastu
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi

And it means:
Protect both of us together
Nourish both of us together
May we work, both of us together with great energy
May our study be vigorous and effective
May we cherish no ill feeling toward each other
Om… Peace, Peace, Peace

Other than the chant, we reviewed basic information about the training – the homework schedule, the various books provided by YogaWorks (5 workbooks – and this is on top of the 5 textbooks… I’m going to need a bigger yoga bag!), and then moved on to introductions. For our intro, we were supposed to give our name, how long we’ve practiced yoga, list of our injuries, a sentence from our essay (What is Yoga?), and one unusual thing about you. It was really amazing to listen to so many women (yes – it seems we have no men in our training class – which is sad in one way but very cool in another) talk about what had brought them to this point on their yoga journey. There are a lot of mothers in the class, quite a few with young sons. One who is starting doula training soon and hopes to eventually teach prenatal yoga. Several women who are schoolteachers, several who want to teach yoga to teens and/or kids with ADHD.

It’s amazing to find a group with which I have so much in common. It’s a bit surreal actually. When each woman was speaking, I felt as if I had similar experiences and could feel the unity between us. The woman power in the room was so awesome – in the real meaning, not the 80s meaning LOL – when it came my turn to speak I had to laugh. I was so wrapped up in what everyone was saying I forgot what I was supposed to say.

I have more injuries than most of the women in the class. Those who spoke before me all had none, so I pointed out that I had plenty to cover those who were injury free. LOL  I need to remember to bring my MRI and x-ray images, it’s always fun to see injuries in graphic detail. (Ok, maybe I’m weird in that. However, Jackie said she would love to see them.)

I guess that is all for now. I’m getting packed up from the hotel and then lying down for a rest in Viparita Karani for a while. Today’s (Saturday) class is going to be a major challenge for me… of the 5 hours of class, 3 will be asana (2 hours of practice, then a break, then another hour of practice). It’s a bit daunting. No, it’s more than a bit daunting. I am a tsunami of emotions – panic, fear, anxiety – rising to face this challenge. I feel like this is the “weed out” day… you know how in university professors often would assign stupidly difficult homework the first week to weed out the lackadaisical student? Yeah… that’s what this feels like; even if that is not the intention (and I honestly believe it is not).

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