December 7, 2020
My Holistic Yoga Flow Teacher Training With Travis & Lauren (Part 2)
Travis was dedicated to Eastern philosophy, but he liberally added his all-American splash of optimism. He would send us home with assignments where we would repeat positive affirmation phrases starting with “I am…” I was already familiar with this technique after my first visit to Cafe Gratitude, but it was tougher when you had to supply your own word. I struggled to come up with something complimentary to say and skipped the homework assignment. Another exercise involved thinking about our limiting thought, writing it down, and then writing out the opposite. “You can’t just write it,” Travis cautioned, “you have to feel it.” I skipped this assignment, too, although it did give me pause as I considered that maybe the only thing that keeps us from achieving anything we want in life is our own limiting belief that we can’t do it.
In one of our final classes, we learned a fable about the musk deer, found in the Himalayas, which is attracted to a scent that it searches its whole life for. It dies without finding it, not realizing that it produced the fragrance that was under its very nose. The point of the allegory is that we search for the source of our power externally when it is always residing within. Through the anecdote, Travis led us to our final takeaway, saying, “At the deeper level we are infinite love.” Or as my friend Angie put it after raising her hand in class, “We search for love in all the wrong places until we find it within.”
During our final exams, I looked around the room, as a dozen of my fellow classmates with whom I’d bonded over the course of ten weeks waited for my next cue. I took a deep breath, swallowed my nerves, and then launched into the Sun Salutation A warm-up sequence.
“On an inhale, sweep your arms up to the sky, Urdhva Hastasana.
Exhale, fold over, Uttanasana.
Inhale, glance halfway up, flattening the back.
Exhale, hands to the mat, feet back, slowly lower.
Exhale, down dog. Take a few breaths.”
Teaching my own full-length Vinyasa class was never part of the plan, but I was glad I did it because it gave me the confidence to see that I could guide a room full of people through a class—something I would never have considered possible before. My goal for the 200-hour training had been to fix my defective form. Looking back, it was ego that drove me to get into the perfect warrior pose. But each week, our Friday night lessons hit home a very different kind of message: we are already perfect the way we are. That is what we find when we reach self-realization: love.
By now, I understood what made yoga a spiritual practice. When we go deep into our bodies, we find the whole of the universe. We are made of the same atoms as the stardust of every living being; this makes us divine. When we see the truth that our self is the same as the whole of creation, we find yoga—the yoking of the individual and the universe. At its most spiritual level, yoga is about discovering the oneness of existence, which goes by various names—the Soul, God, divinity. Its essence is, as Travis put it, “infinite love,” which is why I like to think of yoga as the path of love. How many movies and songs contain the lesson that love is what makes life meaningful? This message is as old as time. The ultimate reality that the Hindus discovered is no different than the lyrics to a Beatles song, “All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”
During the training, Travis shared a story about an elementary school teacher who had each of her students write a positive word to describe their classmates. Years later, a piece of paper was found in the pocket of a man who died at war. It had been one of his most cherished possessions. After our final exam, one of my classmates, Rachel, circulated a photograph of a sheet of paper listing our names. Next to each name was a positive word. One person was passionate and another was calming, while someone else was powerful. Elaine was the last name on the list, and by it, the word “curiosity.”
*Excerpted from “Meditation-Proof: A Relatable and True Account of One Meditator’s Struggle to Be Present and Find Her Zen – Lesson Six: Yoga, the Path of Love – AVAILABLE HERE