The other day, I had the last of three yoga teacher training graduations all happening in a single month. I’ve had four programs going at once, all of which started at different times and in different formats, but they all concluded in spring. One was a weekend program that lasted 4 months, one was a mid-afternoon day program that lasted 9 months, one was a 6 month evening program,and one was a 4 week intensive – something I decided to try just to see if people would register for a shorter time format. Each program received my undivided attention as applicable, until the end, when they all happened to overlap. Made for a crazy month because I ended up working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 4 weeks. It was yoga, yoga, yoga, and I didn’t know if I was coming or going.
When I was creating the schedule, I knew this month would be a challenge, but I believed each and every one of those programs were important, and I figured I could handle anything for a month. On week three, I started to wonder if I had overestimated myself. My assistant, Melina, (a remarkably committed 27 year old who has tons of energy, a great attitude and a sincere love for her work) and I both made jokes about how ready to crash we were. But as Orion Mountain Dreamer says, “I want to know if you can get up everyday and do what you have to do to feed the children…” , a writer with a life view I very much subscribe to, so I plodded through. At least Melina and I laughed a great deal, making fun of how tired we were, our inability to say no to others, and how, even when we were exhausted, we stayed on track and did the job well. In fact, the more teaching we did, the better we seemed to be… we were emersed in the yoga zone – not a bad place to be by any measure.
When all the work is done and we are ready to send these yoga teachers off into the world, Melina and I do all we can to make each Graduation ceremony lovely. It is a significant thing to go through yoga teacher’s training, so I think it is important to mark the occasion with an “event.”
David prepares a slide show of each group’s yoga journey, and we invite families to come witness their loved ones getting their certificate. I have each yogi “jump the mat” (they have to leap over a yoga mat to get their final certificate) and I make a short speech about what each student brought to the table and contributed to the growth process of others. I pick a special quote that defines them. We do our final circle where we each say a word that defines our state in the moment….
(This is Mike – a minister, marathon runner, soon-to-be-a-occupational therapist with a fantastic sense of humor guy who came to training after I trained his wife, a nurse. I train lots of nurses, physical therapists, and others in the medical profession. Anyway, Mike came with trepidation regarding potential religious conflicts (none of which manifested) , he admits, and now feels yoga has enhanced his life more than he imagined it could. He and his wife are good friends of David and I now. He is just one example of the unique people I get to befriend in my work.)
We serve wine and cake and fruit and conclude with a party , and they all get their official ReFlex shirt that has the names of their tribe on the back. There are always tears, poignant commentary and lots and lots of hugs. Here are the last few slide shows for anyone who is not on facebook seeing these posted as each slide show is made. It certainly shows you my work in a day by day fashion, the diversity and joy, and the lovely people I spend time with doing something healthy, meaningful, and with purpose. They show us laughing, working, connecting, and sometimes, daydreaming…. I love my “right liveilhood.” I feel as if all my life has been a training to do this work, and to do it well.
The first graduation was a relief. The second graduation was on my birthday. I worked 12 hours that day, but it felt like a gift to send those yogis off into the world because it meant I got my daytime hours back. Then another graduation (sending off those yogis that had been with me longest – since Sept!) and I saw true light at the end of the working tunnel. Now I am down to one last group of trainees who study in the evenings – a group that will spend 6 months studying yoga with us for three 1/2 hours a night twice a week. And then…. I will get a much needed three week break before my summer intensive. Meanwhile, I am now deep in the throes of creating a dance recital and setting choreography and working on next year’s youth schedule, but that is fodder for a different blog. Let me just say, I love the diversity of my work, combining dance and yoga, teacher’s training and student classes. I also teach journaling and work with handicapped students and fill my working life with other growth inducing experiences, such as my studies in Ayurveda science, writing articles, and organizing workshops that I usually take myself. This month we had a raw food workshop, and next weekend we are hosting an Ashtanga (a crazy advanced physical practice of yoga) event. In may, David, Melina and I will spend a weekend completing our Reiki master’s program and we will be certified to teach Reiki to others if ever my Reiki master moves on from our studio. Ya just cant’ get bored when your life is filled with intellectually stimulating, emotionally moving work that forces you to expand your awareness, tax your creativity, and connect with good people.
Back to RYT training….. I always feel worried when I finish with one group that I might have saturated the market and now, it is possible no one is going to show up for yoga training ever again. I love, love, love this area of my work, and these programs are vital to sustaining my business financially, so it would be a huge disappointment if one or more of my trainings didn’t go. But just this week, 4 new trainees registered for the summer program which is still months away, and another registered for next fall’s daytime program and well….. clearly, I will enjoy many more years of yoga teacher’s training. I’m expanding my program to include an advanced level (RYT-500) next October which may bring 10-20 new serious yoga teacher trainees my way. I’m deeply excited about designing and implementing that program, which will hopefully be held in the new yoga retreat center. And that means David and Melina (my right hand gal) will be my students again for a short while. Always insightful… &n
bsp;Meanwhile, I have aerial trainings, chair yoga trainings, a kiddance workshop and other training programs scheduled for the summer. Eeesh.
I get exceptionally close to the people who begin their yoga journey (or continue on it if they are already serious yogis) with me. I connect deeply with the students in the 200 hours we spend together- we devote a great deal of time not only learning about yoga, but about ourselves. My programs include Reiki training, and a three hour journaling workshop (which many tell me is the highlight and most profound part of training… I’m getting extremely good at teaching writing as a path to healing, if I say so myself. Probably because I believe in it so much.) and we spend lots of time and effort into gaining introspection on our lives. You can’t go through a transformational process such as yoga training and not feel deeply connected to “your tribe.” I have the gift of being a central part of each an every tribe that comes through our door. I’ve been the hub of 7 tribes so far – training over 100 yoga teachers since I started 18 months ago. And each of these fine teachers goes out and impacts others…. Remarkable how many lives you can touch when you find your dharma.
I always treat each tribe to a retreat day, a day outdoors where we convene with nature, do yoga under the sun, and write, nature journal and do awareness exercises. I usually take groups to a state park where I can rent a pavilion and set things up nicely, hike, canoe and grill out, but the last two groups I decided to combine and I took them all to the beach just for a change of pace. Loved the day… I had everyone write themselves a letter regarding their intention setting, which will be sent back to them in 6 months or a year or whenever I sense the time is right. There are many special things we do to make the retreat experience special…. I can’t wait to have a formal retreat center to take this area of work to a whole new level.
My yoga frog goes with us on every retreat. I have pictures of him in the lake where we canoe, or in the sand, or on the beach… he normally sits on a polished root table in the lobby of the studio. Melina says that someday I need to do a slide show just of the frog. (I had a second frog in my yard, but my son absconded him and took him to school (with my blessing.) I love that my son has this symbol of something that means so much to me at college with him. ) Anyway, the frog began a one of two dozen buddhas I collected for my buddha trails – I hide them in the trees for a mindfulness exercise. But the frog was the one buddha with character that made everyone smile, and he always ended up somewhere that was difficult to collect – in the water or buried by plants, or someplace unusual so it became a “thing” to get the frog. We plan to take this frog with us when we go to India and any other remote retreat places we are lucky enough to explore. He is definitely our yoga mascot and the source of many funny memories. I’ll need a special place for him when we move operations to the new retreat center.
Life is good. Busy , but good. It is good to know your place and have a purpose.The other day I read that happiness comes from selfless service, and anyone who continues to focus on their own happiness all the time in an illusive effort to capture content will forever be unhappy and frustrated. I’ve witnessed people who are forever putting their needs and dreams above the needs and dreams of other’s, and they are basically depressed and dissatisfied all the time. This encourages them to work harder to serve themselves because they feel deserving of happiness, but their choices perpetuates the cycle. Having lived with people like this, I truly believe there is something to that “giving and working for the right reasons” theory. All I know is, if giving of your time, energy and resources to others leads to happiness, then it is no wonder I am feeling better each month that separates me from that dark place I was a few years ago.
Life is an ongoing lesson – thankfully, I believe I’m at long last getting the point..