Category Archives: Teacher Training

Ideal Day

Teacher training is demanding, and the monthlong breaks between our meetings (and my inherently extremely lazy personality) make it much too easy to slack off. I’d jotted down our “homework” assignments for this month in the margins of the syllabus, and one assignment that seems to glare especially suspiciously is this: Meditate every day.

Boy oh boy.

Needless to say, that isn’t happening. I was doing okay for a while, clocking in some really tiny little, barely perceptible, ten- or fifteen-minute sits in the morning, just after my D. left for work, but before I plunked my butt down in front of an iMac for the day. But part of our morning ritual has been to share a fresh pot of coffee (a Chemex, of course), and I found myself jittery, eyelashes aflutter, fingertips vibrating, sitting down on the cushion after all that coffee. I love our morning coffee routine — the grinding of the beans, the pouring of the water, the heady aroma, the ritual of it all. Obviously, I sort of fell off the wagon. (Let us not get started on my deep love for beer, and how that interferes with, well, everything yogic, really. I am a shameful yogi, I really am.)

Just now, I paced back and forth around the living room, declaring myself a life failure to D., who was composing an email on his iPad. “Evidence suggests otherwise,” he said. I was unconvinced. I procured a beer from the refrigerator.

I mean, I know. The sacrifices of too much coffee or a beer (or three) with dinner or sleeping in (to 7 AM, really) are not much in comparison to the effects of a nice little sit. I’ve done it enough to know that it matters, that it really makes a difference. Just like the practice itself — asana. But why the heck is it so hard to sit down on the cushion? Why is it so hard to roll out the mat? Is it a physics problem? You know, inertia? (My brother is a physics teacher. I like to tease him about this. For instance, at Thanksgiving, I tried the ol’ yanking-the-tablecloth-off-the-table thing. “A physics experiment!” I cried, as salad plates clattered all around me, crumbs and peppercorns flying. My folks were not too fond of that.)

For a while I’d been thinking that if I actually wrote up a schedule, I might follow through on some of my more yogic commitments. (You see, there’s a bit of a conflict. I’m not sure I actually want to teach yoga — I’m in teacher training mostly to just have more yoga. But still, I ought to do the training as if I were teaching, because, well, who knows? Anusara could use a few grouches, no?)

So I present my ideal day. The day I may never have. But the day I’d like to record, on the off chance that it gives me just enough structure to make it sort of a possibility.

An Ideal Day for a Grouchy Yet Idealistic Yogi

  • 5:45 AM — Wake up and stuff
  • 6:00 — Meditate! Yeah!
  • 6:30 — Coffee awesomeness, breakfast, kickin’ it with D., general morning laziness
  • 7:15 — Dog walk at the local trail (we do this every day anyway)
  • 8:15 — Shower and etc.
  • 9:00 — Work! Implement a Pomodoro-style plan with more regularity
  • 11:00 — Yoga practice or run, depending on the day
  • 12:30 PM — Lunch…
  • 1:00 — Back to work, lazy-ass
  • 5:00 — Dinner prep, hanging out with D., feeding the dog, this-n-that
  • 6:30 — Dinner
  • 7:30 — God only knows… we live in a remote, rural area. What do people do at night? Studying for TT, I guess. Scrabble. Reading. (I love to read. It’s pretty much the only thing I’ve been consistently passionate about for over 30 years.)
  • 10:00 — Bedtime!

When I put it in a list, it almost seems do-able. It seems approachable at least. (Assuming I don’t have lots of work.)

How do you do it? Do you meditate? How do you make space for it in your life? What sacrifices have been hard?

Warm banana bread fresh from the oven.

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The unexpected and evocative smell of line-dried clothes in November.

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On Anusara and Pessimism

That I am in a yoga teacher training program at all seems like someone else’s idea of my life; that I’m doing it while at the same time contending with a relentless rotator cuff injury of mysterious origin seems like a practical joke. But there it is, and here I am.

The teacher trainees have met twice now — it’s a weekend program, with the group getting together once a month, all day Saturday and Sunday — and each Saturday morning I arrive at the studio with the same hissing black cloud over my head. I’d be lying to you if I said it vanished in a tsunami of mental kittens and rainbows by the end of the practice on Sunday afternoon. Sometimes it does, but not always. Sometimes it sticks around for the rest of the week. And that’s fine — for now. I’m used to it.

The thing is, Anusara is just teeming with positive, cheerful, optimistic people. It’s a life-affirming, heart-oriented practice at its core. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know many of these smile-slinging, joy-radiating individuals have pain in their lives. It’s inevitable. We’re human. And certainly we can have a life-affirming practice while accepting and acknowledging that life can be a true bummer from time to time. Or even frequently. But the thing is, I keep coming across this personality in Anusara circles, this cheery, happy personality, and, well, it’s not very yogic of me, but I sort of want to smack that personality sometimes. (There are exceptions, and I don’t always want to smack everyone. Really.)

To be sure, Anusara’s life-affirming style is part of what attracted me to it in the first place. I mean, I can always use some cheering up. (That, and the nerdy alignment principles. Who knew I would ever geek out on anatomy?) It’s just a radical change in perspective for me — to dedicate such a big space in my life to a practice that, at its core, believes that life is good, when all my life I’ve essentially chanted an unending mantra of This Sucks.

  • Stuck in traffic on a two-line highway just outside of New York City, my husband at my side, a warm latte in the cup holder: This SucksThis Sucks.
  • Walking my dog through pristine snowfall on a quiet path in the New England woods out my backdoor: This SucksThis Sucks.
  • A tree in full leaf blocking the warm sun as it moves across the sky: This Sucks, This Sucks.
  • Waiting in table pose with a sore shoulder while everyone else in class is in adho mukha svanasana: This SucksThis Sucks.

You get the idea.

My life is easy, and it almost always has been. First-world problems all the way, even twelve years ago, in college, when I wouldn’t get out of bed to go to class, even ten years ago when I thought spending the rest of my life drooling onto the hardwood floor of a rented Brooklyn flat would be preferable to taking anti-depressants ever again (I did anyway). My life was easy, and it still is.

That knowledge will never make me less grumpy, less grouchy, or more inclined to spend my days smiling beatifically or greeting mere acquaintances with full-body hugs and earsplitting squeals of joy. I am emphatically not that kind of person. Stony silence, eye rolls, sarcastic jokes, and deep frowns are more my territory. I feel comfortable there. I don’t know that any amount of yoga — Anusara or otherwise — could wring that out of me.

But. But. There is something about Anusara, and yoga in general, that scrubs at some of that black crusty matter around my heart.

So, I’m a grouchy yogi. A pessimistic Anusara acolyte. What is that? How is it even possible?

In other words, can this eye-rolling pessimist really make it in this heart-lifted world?

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