Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 4th Edition

April 1, 2015 at 4:32 am

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

Rumi

I’ve now completed four full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and all forty days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. Yippee!  Last weekend for yoga teacher training we had an “Ashram-style” retreat in the mountains two hours northeast of Phoenix. It was such a beautiful place to be.

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Friday evening through Sunday afternoon we got a taste of Ashram life. This consisted of…

  • Eating most of the (vegetarian) recipes in the teacher training manual (lentil loaf, mung bean and rice soup, beet/carrot casserole, etc.)
  • Sleeping in bunk beds. I can’t even remember the last time I had to climb into/out-of a top bunk. Ha!
  • Waking up at 4:00 a.m. to the sound of “Rise Up” by Mirabai. I just might start playing this for my family every morning. ;-)
  • Cold showers, brushing our teeth and gagging ourselves with potassium alum tooth powder.
  • Learning how to tie a real turban.
  • Two-and-a-half-hour sadhana (yoga and meditations) every morning at 5:00 a.m.
  • Toast with ghee, covered with chopped raw garlic and solstice soup for breakfast.
  • Lots of Yogi Bhajan videos.
  • A 62-minute meditation (Celestial Communication with Rakhe Rakhan Har).
  • Two gong lay-outs. The gong at this place had such a beautiful sound.
  • Doing breath walks and walking meditations to and from the cabin ten minutes down the road where we ate our meals.
  • Being “on silence” during our limited free time, though we didn’t really comply very well.
  • Doing a fifteen-minute “soul walk” finding out what our souls wanted us to know.
  • No/limited Internet and cell service.

Some of my favorite pictures from the retreat…

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Some of my thoughts about the weekend…

The best thing I took away from the retreat was stronger bonds with my fellow classmates. I was able to drive up and back with two of them and enjoyed our talks both ways. I shared a room with three other women and enjoyed getting to know them better.  I was able to share my magnesium oil with appreciative achy friends. I helped another find her lost diamond earring (given to her by her sister), and she hugged me with so much joy when I handed it to her. All-in-all I feel like I came away from the weekend loving my yogi friends all the more.

So I have a really hard time staying awake during morning sadhana. I’ve participated in three two-and-a-half-hour early morning sadhanas now, and I have fallen asleep around the third meditation every. single. time. Sigh. I also have a really hard time staying awake during Yogi Bhajan videos (and I wasn’t the only one). Maybe I was just really tired this past weekend?

One of the challenges of Kundalini Yoga teacher training is coming to peace with Yogi Bhajan. It’s something every Kundalini Yoga teacher is confronted with. Yogi Bhajan shared many wonderful things with the world, but he also offended and upset a lot of people with his blunt, bold, confrontational, and often expletive-laden teaching style. He spoke often about the necessity of approaching life with love, light, and compassion, but his way of teaching often doesn’t feel or seem very compassionate. I also find myself very confused by his way of speaking… bouncing from one topic to another with little or no transition, cohesiveness, or flow. I often can’t piece together what he’s trying to communicate. Last weekend we watched a lot of Yogi Bhajan videos, and some were easier to enjoy than others. A couple of people walked out of one particularly abrasive video on Sunday. I feel like the weekend was an opportunity for all of us to figure out how we feel about Yogi B. I’m still figuring it out, but during my “soul walk” on Saturday my soul told me that I don’t have to agree with or accept everything I’m being taught and that I’ll be guided to know what to embrace and what doesn’t apply to me. That helped me feel better about the conflicted feelings I was having.

I definitely feel like my forty-days of my assigned kriyas/meditations brought about a transformation in me. They say 40 is the number of transformation, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Sometimes things get worse before they get better. That was definitely true for me. But by the end (I hit 40 days last Friday), I was feeling really good. Added bonus: no PMS this month! And that was a very welcome reprieve after a horrific week of PMS the previous month and many anxious days in the week before my period for several months before that.

Rumi quote

My goal for the next forty days is to befriend the amrit vela… the hours before sunrise. This is the time of day when supposedly yoga and meditation are most effective. All of my life I have said, “I’m not a morning person.” I have always been a night owl, staying up way too late and always sleeping-in whenever possible. But the rare times when I do go to bed early and get up early I usually feel utterly awesome, so I have a feeling it would do wonders for my mental and physical health if I were to make it a habit. But… oh… the resistance. So much resistance from my negative mind and my body. Yogi Bhajan said this: “Sadhana is a test of self-grit. If your sadhana is more important than your neurosis, you are fine. If your neurosis is more important than your sadhana you are not. Doesn’t matter how saintly you are, nobody wants to get up in the ambrosial hours.” I am determined. I will conquer this!

P.S. I’m doing a GIVEAWAY on my new website! Check it out HERE!