As some of you may know, I am privileged to be working alongside very experienced Dru yoga tutors this year – assisting and supporting the current yoga students on their teacher training journey.
When I volunteered for this I expected to be attending in person, in Stirling once a month – helping make the tea, assisting students with postures and questions and generally supporting in a background role – oh and it gave me an excuse to go and stay with my dear friend and her family.
Of course, this year, nothing has gone to plan and Dru has been amazing and taken the teacher training online - the students have all been fantastic and welcomed this with open arms and have been brilliant in going with the flow. Their dedication and determination is inspirational.
They are currently gathering photos of their meditation shawls to make a collaborative patchwork piece of art - it reminds me of my meditation shawl I purchased from a stall in London en route to a yoga retreat I was heading to in Sussex - my treat to myself to reconnect and set the scene prior to beginning my journey as a Dru teacher. Now my sister is crocheting me a set of shawls to correspond with the colours of the chakras - part of our energetic body. There's something lovely about the symbolism and emotional attachment we give to something like this - I guess the items embody the intention and the energy and vibration of the sacred space we create within ourselves as we practice our yoga and meditation.
And so, I find I am only making tea for myself and with the huge privilege of witnessing and feeding back on ‘homework – reflective learning sheets and assignments; I’ve been assigned to support a senior tutor in helping with study groups and have now ventured into a tiny bit of teaching online. Quite a journey in itself and the latest weekend found Joe (the senior tutor I’m working with) and myself giving the anatomy and physiology presentation for the course - on the circulatory system – a subject close to my heart (see what I did there) as I shared my experience from several years ago when I ignored my body and landed myself in hospital receiving a transfusion of 3 units of blood and being extremely grateful for blood donors and the NHS.
After the presentation, I realised that this had happened when I was about 7 months into my yoga teacher training – about the same place they were just before the last weekend of training. One of the things I didn’t mention was that one reason I was ignoring my health was that my husband was already in hospital, having been blue lighted in with chest pain – turned out he had pericarditis (inflammation of the protective sac around the heart).
We both really had a crisis of the heart going on and afterwards, we took this opportunity as a gift to reassess our lives – we committed to downsizing, to working less and playing / travelling more. This was over 5 years ago and is still very much a work in progress – we have released so much - it has been a peeling away of layers, of my aspirational self, of who I thought I was, of physical stuff - and yet here we are, still journeying along our path – it’s not one we can rush.
This is our journey but there are points that I find myself reflecting on that I think are common when we commit to a practise, to our self development and to about this time in the course….
So today, in this blog, I want to chat about that often, uncomfortable space – when we reach that point where we change – our outlook, our ideas, travel beyond our comfort zone – altering our vibration.
We’ve spent years being comfortable and knowing ourselves and during the course, there comes a step over the threshold into the unknown – we often don’t realise we have crossed it – yoga can be sneaky – working away in the background without us realising what’s going on until we arrive at a point where ‘we no longer fit’. We can feel naked, exposed – old fears can arise – freeing themselves from the shadowy places to be looked at, acknowledged, thanked and released if they no longer serve – often they are there to keep us or our ancestors safe. This place of uncertainty can feel weird, bring over-reactions, questions from friends and family who don’t feel so comfortable around us as we change – our vibration feels out of kilter. This change is of course simply us becoming ‘more’ us – releasing layers – like peeling off really old comfy jumpers that don’t actually keep us very warm any more but we have a strong emotional attachment to them.
And this journey is cyclical - an ever deeper spiral to oneself.
As an assistant tutor on this course, I find myself at a point where I’m back at this slightly uncomfy place – I can recognise it more easily now as I cycle round again - I begin to doubt my place in the support team, old ‘not enough’ monsters rear their head – I’m not good enough, I’m not the right person to be doing this; I find myself feeling slightly resentful at the time it takes and yet, I made this commitment, I set the intention – I know it is my path..but jings….here I am at the uncomfy place – again..
I feel emotional for no apparent reason – I’ve not been teaching yoga for that long compared to the other very experienced tutors on the course – most of whom were tutors on my course, or the tutors of the tutors from my course…I have to have a word with myself – I’ve been practising yoga since my teens, I’ve been a sports coach for over 25 years, I’ve mentored community and outdoor education students, I’ve organised more training events that I can remember, I have several tickets, been on lots of courses including level 3 coach, train the trainer, business support, coaching skills blah blah blah but of course – yoga is a sneaky thing – stepping over my comfort zone to support this course, deepening my own learning and practise, being seen – my heart feels vulnerable, I’m in that scary, shadowy place once more.
I am of course learning heaps, deepening and refreshing my knowledge - gathering information that perhaps bi-passed me the first time round - including the link between the posture - natarajasana and waterfalls - that explains why I frequently feel drawn to working with that posture in these wonderful places. The Dru Scotland tutor team have made me feel extremely welcome - they are so supportive and it's truly wonderful to feel part of that community.
This time of year is a time to pause – to go, as Persephone does – into the shadow-world, to be like a seed planted in the ground; to recharge our batteries, reflect, release and restore.
As I stand and gaze at this evenings full moon - the last before the winter solstice, I reflect on my ever continuing cyclical yoga journey, I can begin to look back at the path travelled, the journey undertaken and realise how far I’ve come. I’m constantly learning, always changing, ever deepening – discarding the old, out of date, over worn, no longer warm layers of jumpers – acquiring new, appropriate (for now anyway) ones and snuggling down for the winter.
Musings from wandering about woodlands, paddling in the sea and meditating by rivers ...