Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Journey....I'm Officially A Certified Yoga Instructor!

Yesterday I became a member of the first class to graduate from the LI Kula Yoga Center's first 200 hr yoga teacher training program! It was a long 6 months and had it's emotional ups and downs. But all of my hard work and efforts paid off.
I remember the thoughts flying in my head after our first full day..."what the hell am I doing her?!". I had no idea what I was signing up for or even why. I didn't even think that I wanted to teach at that point. I kept telling myself..."I'm only here to learn more" I really didn't know what was to come. As the weeks went on I became more and more fascinated. Having only been hardcore practicing for under a year, I had completely immersed myself into the philosophy and all the other aspects of yoga aside from the asanas.
I'll never forget our first teaching assignment  We were given it in class and had about an hour to prep it. It was only a short sequence...nothing too crazy. But the nerves were flowing in full force, how was I going to get up in front of my peers and teach them! When it was my turn I felt my face turn red, my voice got shaky, "oh no" I thought. Considering the nerves it went pretty well...only problem was breathing, demonstrating, and talking all at the same time. I didn't understand how linking all three things was ever going to be possible.
With practice and efforts this all became easier. Our next teaching assignment went so much better. I had a month to prep it, teach it, and practice. Speaking and demoing was so much easier this time. This is about when I start to think that I might be able to actually teach. As the weeks went on the teaching and round robins became slightly easier and easier.
Before I knew it, it was time to start prepping my final hour long class. I still cannot believe how fast those 6 months went.  I knew exactly what I wanted my apex to be. It was handstand, mainly because handstand was something that I had struggled with and through my teacher training journey I had be able to start kicking myself into it and began to love and become obsessed with going into the pose (side note: I now kick myself up into handstand at least once a day to make sure I don't loose it, haha.) I slowly began to build my sequence. Warm ups  shoulder openers, apex, cool downs oh and donkey kicks because sometimes it is just necessary to kick yourself in your own ass...and they are great intense handstand preps. On Thursday night I saw a quote that really just set the tone of this whole experience  "Life's not about the destination, but the journey".
This quote really just solidified everything. I felt almost at peace and ease when I saw it. I instantly knew that it needed to be in my opening and closing meditation of my class.
The day was so emotional and amazing at the same time. At the end of it all it was such a humbling and amazing journey to be on. I cannot wait to see what the next path holds for me.
*Special thanks to everyone at LI Kula Yoga: my amazing teacher Desiree, My amazing classmates (Linda, Beth, Stacey, Kristina, Lisa,and Ernie). You have all helped me grow and find myself!
<3 Jess

Shoulders, Shoulders, Shoulders....Oh and Handstand

A few years back I was injured at work and needed to have shoulder surgery. I tore two places in my rotator cuff and needed to have a dissolvable implant put in. I didn't ever think that my shoulder would be  nearly as strong as it was before I was injured. So how exactly does this tie in to yoga you may ask...well let me tell you a little story. Last February when I began my yoga journey I never thought I'd be able to do handstand or anything else that would require a lot of strength and energy from my shoulder. While in class I'd just watch the others and think to myself, "jeeze they are crazy, I could never do that!". Little did I know that in under a year I'd have the strength and will power to do it.
When I first began yoga it was about 2 years post-op. My range of movement was nowhere near what it was and I didn't expect it to get any better.
After about a month or two of yoga my shoulder felt completely different. It was stronger, more flexible, and didn't have the chronic pain that it used to get. But I still couldn't kick myself up into handstand. I began to realize that it was a mind over matter deal. When I was finally able to get myself over the fear of falling or even dying, I'd eventually be able to get myself up into it. I'd get so down on myself after class because I couldn't do it by myself.  I needed to keep reminding myself that when I was ready it would come to me.
One weekend we had two full days of yoga teacher training. In the morning class we went through the usual class and then came time for inversions. I prayed in my head that it'd be something like forearm balance or headstand but not handstand. But of course it was handstand...."Here we go" I thought to myself. "Another weekend of needing someone to hoist me up", I try to kick up once...nothing, twice...still nothing, then on the third time, like a charm, I kicked my left leg up pumped with my right to the count of three and released. My right leg came to meet my left and there I was, up in handstand without anyone assisting me. I let out a "yay"(I think a little squeal of joy too...) and my teacher and fellow students all turned to me and clapped or said words of encouragement.
Now that I've gotten myself over that hump of negativity towards myself and the pose it comes more naturally. I don't get into it the first time I kick up but hey who cares as long as the intention and focus are there.
It just goes to show you that anything really is possible as long as you keep your eye on the prize and remain focused. I attached a few recent handstand pictures :)
For my next post I'm working on some handstand prep poses and shoulder openers! Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

With the start of the new year I have decided to chronicle my journey through the rest of my yoga teacher training as well as my path along this long and winding road we call life. 

The Background
A year ago I would have never thought I'd be where I am right now. I am only a few short weeks away from completing my 200 hour yoga teacher training. I never would have thought I'd be doing anything remotely close to that. Before last spring I was as far away from an aspiring yogini as possible. I thought by this present moment in time I'd be working towards becoming a speech language pathologist or possibly becoming a certified teacher. My my how things really do change. 

Last spring was my last semester at Suffolk County Community college before I graduated with my associates in Child Study. I needed one more gym credit to graduate and seeing as there was an opening in the yoga class I jumped right on it figuring that it would be an easy credit and thinking I'd flow through a few asanas and go home. Cake, right?

Man was I wrong. I stepped into the class and the teacher was already there. She had such a presence and energy about her. My perspective changed from that point on. Not only did I learn about the asanas but I also learned about the 8 limbs, and mainly the yamas and niyamas which I suddenly became fascinated with. I became enthralled with the practice and history of yoga. It was as if nothing else mattered but yoga. My instructor had a yoga studio about 10 minutes from where I lived and I quickly decided that as soon as the semester and graduation we over with I'd be signing up at the studio for sure. May rolled around and was at the studio. Taking classes almost everyday learning and submersing myself in the beautiful practice. 

Come late June my instructor (the same one from the college) handed me a booklet on the upcoming teacher training that she'd be doing at the studio and told me to consider it. It was something I almost instantly said yes to. It would be a new path for me, a new journey, and I was so unbelievably excited to start. 

August seemed to come up so quickly. The first teacher training weekend was looming and I started to get the butterflies and insanely nervous. "Is this the right path for me?", "will I actually be able to teach a class as great as Des?" these are just a few of the questions and thoughts swimming around in my head. I was eventually able to just push them out and I'd tell myself that no matter how teacher training went, the experience was what I was really in it for. The journey and leaning more about yoga were the only things I was concerned about.

Now it all comes so naturally, I still have butterflies and nerves about teaching but after I get some experience and practice more I am sure that it will become smoother and more natural.