One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned through my yoga practice is bending and softening. My first instinct is usually to close off and shut down and that tendency has caused me a lot of pain and struggle in life. Through yoga and self-discovery, I am learning new ways of being that involve more vulnerability and opening. I have found that when I can lean more in the direction of bending, softening, vulnerability and opening, that the reward is much greater than being closed off.
That said, it’s a constant challenge for me to stay open. Constant. I could make a long, long list of all of the ways that I still find myself closing even though I can see how it doesn’t serve me. It is difficult to reprogram but I am making slow progress and I can see the ways energy, relationships and opportunities flow when I stay in the space of open.
One of the books that has helped me the most with open and close is Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul. I have quoted this book before but I want to share this passage with you today.
“The most important thing in life is your inner energy. If you’re always tired and never enthused, then life is no fun. But if you’re always inspired and filled with energy, then every minute of every day is an exciting experience. Learn to work with these things. Through meditation, through awareness and willful efforts, you can learn to keep your centers open. You do this by just relaxing and releasing. You do this by not buying into the concept that there is anything worth closing over. Remember, if you love life, nothing is worth closing over. Nothing, ever, is worth closing your heart over.”
So, let’s segue into last weekend. It was the fifth weekend of the 200-hour yoga teacher training that I am leading in Kingsport, Tennessee at Vida Hot Yoga…and it was my first time leaving Finn in Charlotte for the weekend. It was very difficult but I also realized that I had a choice on how to focus my energy, intention and heart.
Fittingly, we have been talking a lot about vulnerability in teacher training these last few weekends and this weekend we did a backbending workshop. Backbends are heart openers and we discussed how it’s common for fear to come up with backbends because…opening your heart can be terrifying at times. It is much easier to play it safe…with your backbending practice on the mat and with your heart out in real life.
I chose to focus on being fully present for my students, enjoying some downtime away from mom duties and moving my body.
I took off around 12:30 p.m. on Friday with a packed lunch in the car. Sandwiches and chips are life for me right now.
I arrived at the hotel early enough to get a quick 30-minute treadmill workout in before our Friday evening session. I did four miles of sweaty hills and sprints. It was similar to this workout.
I had a full house for Friday evening practice. (My Friday and Saturday classes are open to the public.) We did a 75-minute power flow and talked a lot about the value of asking for help when you need it, especially during the holiday season. And that’s help of all kinds…from errand running to dealing with mental health.
After practice, we watched a documentary on Ashtanga yoga and then closed around 8:40 p.m. I picked up Panera on the way back to the hotel.
I grabbed a light breakfast at the hotel before heading out to teach on Saturday morning. Class started at 8 a.m.
Our morning session was a deep dive into standing sequencing and then we broke for lunch. I was able to go out to lunch with some of my trainees since I didn’t have Finn with me.
That afternoon, I led a two-hour backbending workshop. It was the most backbending I’ve done since having Finn and it actually felt really good. Everyone enjoyed the workshop. We broke down everything from up dog to camel to bow to dancer to wheel and tons of other stuff too. We did a lot of block, strap and partner work. We ended the session with assisted drop backs!
On Saturday afternoon we also discussed the book The Four Agreements and did a loving kindness meditation that was probably one of the best meditations that I have ever personally done. I felt a huge shift during it.
I was worn out from a full day of teaching so I opted to just grab dinner at my hotel’s lounge. I brought my laptop and worked on a blog post while I sat there. I started with a kale caesar.
And then had a barbecue flatbread.
Back in my rom, I did a little more work and watched Shark Tank.
I was up at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning to get in pumping, a workout and checking out before we started teacher training at 7:45 a.m. I did two miles on the treadmill and then a superset strength workout.
I got breakfast to go at the hotel and ate it after I did a led ashtanga practice with the TTs.
Our morning session included wrapping up our Four Agreements book discussion, going over the ins and outs of Ashtanga yoga and practice assisting.
I made a pb&j for lunch and stayed at the studio to pump. We had one more session where we covered the overall format and timing of a power yoga class and then wrapped up for the weekend.
It was nice to get back to Charlotte and I’ve been soaking up time with Finn and the girls. Sadly, I have to leave the girls again this evening because Finn and I are taking off for Florida for Thanksgiving. 🙁
That was a lot. What I took away most from the weekend was an overwhelming sense of gratitude. To be honest with you, less than two weeks before the training started I sat down with my teacher and very tearfully asked her, “how can I lead this training when I feel like I have nothing to give?” She told me that was exactly where I would teach from and it would be perfect.
I wrote a post after the first teacher training weekend about how this is a dream come true for me, and truly, it is. I can’t even adequately express to you guys how much this training has filled me up, renewed my passion for yoga and kind of “brought me back to life” in a sense. I feel so, so fortunate for this opportunity, the incredibly kind and loving people and the studio. They have truly reinforced to me that I must stay committed to practicing vulnerability and opening.
More from Florida. Sending love to all of you. xx
Do you find it easy to stay open or do you tend to close/shut down?
Do you enjoy backbends or not? Why?