Being a student again

Agni_god_of_fireThe roots of yoga can be traced back to the Vedic civilization, around 4000 B.C. The Vedics celebrated fire and the sun, and most Vedic hymns were dedicated to Agni, god of fire (above). Agni stambasana, or fire log pose, is a hip opening pose I’ve been doing daily. Artist unknown, 1830. On display in the British Museum.


As I prepare to go to London next week for the second module of my training, I wanted to share my homework (some mandated by the teacher, but most mandated by myself).

I wrote about awareness in my last post. I feel I’m becoming much more in tune with myself (which includes my body and my thoughts) and the world around me (and how I interact with people).

I’m moving through my days more thoughtfully and purposefully – approaching them with the open mind of a student. One teaching that really stuck with me from the first module was the idea of going through life with the intention of “everything is here to teach us.” It’s helped me tremendously in not sweating the small stuff (or the large stuff).

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Studying the history of yoga and yoga philosophy. This is one of the main reasons I signed up for this class, and I’m loving it. We have a philosophy manual we had to complete before the second module; it touches on yoga’s origins (4000 B.C.!) all the way through the yoga we know today. And let me just say – there are some crazy teachings. I’m keeping an open mind. I’m also fascinated.
  • 5 min daily seated meditation – honestly, this sounds like it should be easy, but I found when something seems like a short, easy, unsexy task, I usually push it down on the list of priorities until it doesn’t get done. I’m really proud to say I’ve done this every day. I’m going to start increasing minute by minute.
  • Reading. The books I’ve been reading supplementally to the philosophy manual:
    • The Yoga Sutra  – Patanjali – one of the foremost texts of yoga. A beautiful book of teachings.
    • Jivamukti Yoga – Sharon Gannon – this is the type of yoga I’m studying, and I think this book is really well-written. I know I’ll be referring back to it a lot.
    • Shambhala: the sacred path of the warrior – Chögyam Trungpa – I honestly love everything Chögyam Trungpa said and taught. When this book was added “suggested” on our class reading list, I immediately got it. It’s small enough that I can take it on the train and it’s now full of underlines and stars and notes. It’s a keeper.
    • The Bhagavad Gita – a Hindu narrative from around 325 B.C. I haven’t started this yet, but it’s next up.

In the physical practice:

  • Daily: baddha konasana and agni stambasana – at least 5 min. These are seated poses that help with hip opening and should transfer over to almost every other pose. I can tell a small difference already. Excited for continued progress here. I find this is easy to do when I’m home; I just sit on the floor instead of the couch or a chair.
  • 3-4 days a week: Self practice at home. I’d like to do more of this, but I’m prioritizing teaching and working with others right now. I’ve always had a self practice, but I’m being more intentional with it.
  • 3-4 days a week: Attending class at the studio in Frankfurt (read: all classes in German – it’s to the point where it’s just like English to me now). Not only attending, but really focusing on my practice, rather than just passively showing up. This has made such a difference for my concentration and mind-body connection during and after practice. I think of how many times I go to class just to go through the motions. Committing to actively participating has made me much more aware of my breath and body. We’re learning that a strong practice will help us teach others and I can see how that’s true.
  • 3 days a week: Guiding friends through the sequence I’m learning, as well as adjusting them throughout. Luckily, I have friends who are willing (and I hope excited) to be my guinea pigs here. I can tell I’m getting more confident teaching the sequence and touching people. Let’s see if that confidence carries over when I have to do it next week.

It’s been a lot. But I’m committed to taking this class seriously. I’m learning and loving being a student again.

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