Greetings from Satchidanda Ashram-Yogaville!
For the past two and a half weeks I have been living in a tent, attending the Integral Yoga Intermediate Teacher Training program, which is a residential course. At this very moment it is extremely hot and muggy in the hills of Buckingham, Virginia, which is actually a welcomed respite from the continuous torrential downpours I have experienced just about the entire time I've been here. Seriously, out of the first 14 days I was here, it rained 12. I was actually run out of my tent one particularly soggy night, taking refuge in the dorm for three days until things dried out. It has been quite the experience: intense, enriching, fulfilling, frustrating at times, enlightening, and exhausting. And hopefully I've gotten used to it because I'm signed up for the Advanced TT that starts on August 11. When I tell people that here they either look at me with wonder or concern. But this is me, all or nothing. I knew that once I made the decision to pursue an advanced certification, that it couldn't be a one weekend a month deal. I had to take the biggest bite I could, and jump into the hottest fire. So I know at the end of the summer I will be full and well cooked!
But being away has a cost (literally, as a yoga teacher with no benefits, I don't get paid vacations), and I've been on the go since 5/22. Austin, Charlotte, New York, and DC. Now here. It's a strain on my family, the people who help me to run Project Yoga Richmond and have to pick up my slack, and especially my students, who grow into a routine only to have it change each time I'm called away. It's a challenge to stay connected, while at the same time continuing to evolve, grow and experience new things in life. But I won't say its a sacrifice. In fact, since I've been doing this spiritual work over the past few weeks I've eliminated the "s" word from my vocabulary. What I'm doing is not sacrifice. I'm not giving up anything, and gaining everything. Whether its traveling to teach workshops and connecting with Yogis across the map, or diving headfirst into a residential program, everything that's being done now is preparing me for a more prosperous future and a greater ability fulfill all the duties and roles I've been given. The connections push me forward, and this immersion is what I needed in my life. And its all about the yoga, the teaching and the path. Whatever I do or have done since I've started this journey has been for the sake of yoga. I work to become a better student to improve upon my ability to teach. I teach because it is what I love to do and it so happens to be my chosen career path. And sometimes it takes me away from the very people who have supported me and enabled to utilize this gift.
But the going away isn't always so dramatic. Sometimes its just an issue of changing class times, or giving up a particular class to focus elsewhere. Sometimes class themes are modified to fit students have advanced in their practice. Change, change, change. The one constant in this life. And yoga teachers and their students are not isolated from it. I have gotten messages often "J, how come you know longer teach the so and so class?" One student said to me once "J, you said you would never leave the gym, and now they have cancelled the class entirely". This really breaks my heart, because the main role of a yoga teacher is service. I am here to serve, and when I feel as though I'm not doing my job, it makes me sad. But what am I to do? Before becoming a yoga teacher I was a person who had a "job". And if the job wasn't serving me I left and found another one. And no one cared. This is what separates a mind/body professional from all other means of employment. It is the connection, the bond that is formed when you are able to witness transformation first hand, and know that you had a part to play in it. Its the evolving experience of practicing yoga. As our yoga practice evolves, we begin to seek out instructors that can move us deeper. And not just physically. We begin to notice that the physical postures and sensations serve the purpose of waking us up to the possibilities of a more awakened and authentic existence. We want to know, "who can touch my spirit?" We look for those who are able to bring out the best that is hidden within us. Those who can help us to find our highest potential. A good teacher will help you to open the physical body and all it's potential. A great teacher will help you to open your heart. I hope that one day I will become such an instructor. This is my desire, if I should have such a thing. To help open the hearts of my students to be able to give and receive more love. This is my cherished gift, the role I seem to be growing into. And for that, I give thanks.
One Love, Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi