I got home last night from Advanced Teacher Training outside of Malaga, Spain and fresh off the plane, am posting my thoughts about what I’ve learned. These thoughts focus less on the training content, although the content provided by teachers Tiffany Cruikshank and Katy Appleton was amazing. It’s more about the overall behaviors and attitudes that stayed with me as I was on the long plane ride home and the things I hope will stay with me during the months ahead. If you’re considering a weeklong retreat or training, perhaps some of these things will come up:
Soften the hard edges of thinking: When we think in extremes, it boxes us in to only one way of making things work. If you’re a concrete thinker, like me, you get points for being very rational and organized but the world rarely functions in this way. It moves in waves, with the ups and downs of life. If we only think in straight lines, we miss out on opportunities to be creative, take chances and experience life in all it’s glory- both the good and the bad.
Put your practice first: As many yoga teachers quickly realize, finding time to practice is hard. When you’re not teaching, you’re doing a myriad of other things related to teaching along with all the tasks of daily life. On this training, I had the pleasure to do a challenging practice twice a day for 6 days after many months of barely practicing twice a week. I realized how much I miss it, how much there is to learn and how important it is for my inner being to slow down and get on the mat every day.
Stop letting the news drive your nervous system: Our training was set in the mountains of Spain and as such, internet service was spotty at best. Many of us would gather at night and because a secure connection was so precious, I’d limit my time to emailing loved ones and a few minutes to post pictures on Facebook. There was no time for news and even though my laptop’s home page is boston.com, I’d ignore the local headlines and move right on to what I intended to do (I need to change my home page). I found it allowed me to move through my day with more peace and quiet, rather than letting the news cycle pound me with what they deemed to be important.
Be open to the breakthrough: For anyone that’s attended a weeklong yoga retreat or training, you know that sometimes when you least expect it, a breakthrough happens. It might be at that practice where you felt resistance for most of the time but then, towards the end, a magical sense of ease enveloped your body. It might have been the resistance you felt to being open to conversation with others and you realized halfway through that this is how you’ve been your whole life. It might be the release of emotion, coming from deep within you, pouring forth in the form of hot, salty tears, as you rested in Shavasana after a 3 hour practice and then arose from your mat, feeling tired but with a sense that a shift had occurred. In my experience, being open to the breakthrough, should it come, is a beautiful quality to embody when you go; not to say that without one, your time was less valuable, but more to share with you the importance of being open to the possibility.
Stop talking and start listening. One of the cool things about any training like this, is that you spend extended time with lots of people. Eating together, practice, hiking; there are lots of times to ask questions and find out more about others. I found that the more I asked, the more I heard and how interesting it was. It also reminded me how much I tend to jabber on about myself and how important it is to ask and listen.
Be open to learning new things: The assumption of course, is that if you’re attending a weeklong adventure, you’re open to learning something new, but it’s amazing how we can show up as if we know it all. Bringing a sense of curiosity can help your brain stay open to new information.
Re-learning reinforces knowledge and allows you to integrate it in a more meaningful way: Along with staying open to learning new information, staying open to having existing learning reinforced is also so important. Hearing things over and over again helps us to integrate the information. It’s through this level of knowledge that we are truly able to pull together various sources, examples, expressions and lessons all around the content so when we share it, it not only lands with more impact on our subjects but has more relevance as well and a better chance they’ll retain it.
Fears are just the lies we tell ourselves: When we’re removed from our daily routine, given the chance to do lots of yoga practice, eat healthy food and explore a subject matter in an intense way, we often see fears arise. It could be around all that we feel we do not know; our competency, in this case, as a yoga teacher or the sense we have that time is running out for us to realize our true potential. In the safety of these times, with friends surrounding us, if we allow these fears to rise, we may realize that it’s just our ego speaking and that it really has nothing to do with reality or with our real power or potential as an individual.
You are not alone in your way of thinking: One of the amazing things that happens when you get a bunch of yoga teachers together, is that we begin to share those inner thoughts that haunt us as we navigate this career filled with opportunity for creativity, personal expression and connection. As we move through our day-to-day life, we sometimes feel isolated, as if no one else feels the unhealthy feelings we feel from time to time. But on the warm nights after dinner or in the one on one time we spend during lecture, we start to hear similar thoughts from our colleagues. They also worry about their career path; about financial security; about staying relevant; about those voices they hear in their heads that say, “I’m not good enough,” that seem to get louder as they approach the studio. Make no mistake; this isn’t a pity party. It’s a way of reassuring ourselves that we are not alone in this way of thinking and at the same time, diluting the hold these unhealthy thoughts have on our creative mind.
I already know enough and am enough: Most of all, what I learned at this Advanced Teacher Training with Tiffany Cruikshank and Katy Appleton, is that I already have more than enough knowledge to share with my students and I am enough just as I am right now and I know that there is so much growth that will continue to happen.
I wish you well on this journey called life and hope if this sounds interesting, you take the time to research and attend a week long event to see what lessons lie out there for you.