By Brooke Asbury
Embarking on on Yoga Teacher Training is, for me, like the feeling of going on a huge adventure by yourself. Like hittin’ the open road, singing out loud at the top of your lungs, with windows and heart open wide. Doing something for you. Having the courage to pursue a dream. Taking a risk. Making sacrifices for something you believe in. Liberation.
It’s true that not every minute of training feels this high, but I personally experience a flood of happy nostalgia when I think of mine. Some folks attend a teacher training at their home studio; others travel to India and spend time at an ashram, others travel to LA to spend 9 weeks in a hotel, practicing the 90-minute Bikram series twice daily and attending lectures the other 10 to 14 hours of the day. My teacher-training experience was also unique: I lived in Seattle and commuted to Nashville two weekends a month. Each of these weekends, I left my other life behind. Aboard the airplane, I began my “me” time. Of course, I had my homework with me – anatomy studies, required yoga readings, and the teaching dialogue but it was still time invested in myself because it was what I wanted, not what someone else wanted me to study, as had been the case the prior 32 years of my life. I would get all nestled in my window seat with my reading, a celebratory glass of wine, and a pre-packaged, airplane “cheese plate,” and give a cheers to the start of the adventure once again. As the plane took off, and I waved goodbye to my rainy SeattIe Space Needle, and watched the Pacific Northwest timbers disappear as we flew off to Tennessee.
By studying and immersing myself in the practice (7 classes a week required to be exact), I learned about yoga, the postures, and myself. The greatest gain was the lifelong friends I made during training. Of course, that’s just how Nashville is. You can’t go anywhere without meeting a genuinely friendly and helpful person. Because I had no place to stay in Nashville, I made friends from Day 1 who opened up their homes and lives and invited me right in.
My enrollment in yoga teacher training was the first classroom setting I’d been in since grad school, almost a decade prior. It wasn’t easy sitting still for several hours at a time, concentrating on lectures, taking notes. It wasn’t easy submitting to another adult. Having eight years of consistent practice at a prominent Bikram studio under my belt, I wasn’t too keen on taking liberal input from this new teacher. “Liberal” in the sense that she had a more open or sinuous interpretation of the original Bikram dialogue (watered down if you were to ask me, but nobody did ask me). She would literally take me out of my postures, tell me NOT to sit any lower in Awkward posture, tell me to come up out of Eagle, tell me to stay on the floor for the rest of class when I had simply laid down to take a break. I was outraged to say the least. Still, I stayed.
I’ll never forget the feeling as I fought the hot, stinging tears and trembling lip as I laid in a forced Savasana that day. I didn’t need her or her dumb certificate, I told myself. Well, maybe I didn’t but that certainly wasn’t the point. The lesson was the same one I learn every day that I come to the mat – to surrender, to stop fighting, to let go of anything not serving me. My anger and frustration would not serve me. Instead of fighting, I practiced yoga just like I do in my class – the quiet surrender to the heat, the discipline and dedication to show up every day, the perseverance to get up and start the posture again – every moment that we fall out, we give ourselves grace start again. My next move was not to head back to Seattle and teach her a lesson but to submit and surrender. We ended up forming a strong friendship, and I never held it against her that she made my Awkward posture less extreme than it could have been.
The truth is that you never know where someone else is coming from, and my job was to be a student. Period. Graduation time came as soon as the leaves changed and fell to the ground. It was a flurry of reciting dialogue, taking final exams and celebrating our victory of becoming yoga teachers. I flew home. There were no more trips to Nashville on my calendar. That realization was the moment I knew the adventure could not end there. I couldn’t go back to “normal” life after that. I knew that I had to teach and that I had to teach in Nashville.
What is learned or discovered during Teacher Training cannot always be anticipated. You may get what you came for but most likely, you’ll get a lot more than that. One thing’s for sure, your practice will never be the same again, and you probably won’t be either. It was an exciting time that I’ll never forget but the truth is, that the learning never stops and the story keeps unfolding