Had I asked myself “What’s happening now?” as I walked to the yoga studio on day four, I would have answered, “I’m noticing a lot of emotion.” Yoga has a tendency to bring out emotion, so it’s not surprising that after three days of deep practice I would be feel like this. It was just a matter of whether the emotion would die down or need to be released.
As soon as Dina mentioned that we would be starting the practice with chanting, I knew I was a goner. Chanting, hymns, and many other types of music and sound always bring up emotions in me. Within in the first five minutes of class I already had tears streaming down my face.
We practiced for over three hours, during which my welling of emotions was relatively attenuated. During the yin practice, Dina encouraged us to submit by suggesting we “let go of all hope that things will be different in this moment.” I needed to hear that when we were square pose, which is incredibly intense for me, and makes the asymmetry of my hips becomes frustratingly apparent. During the flow practice she had us tune in to our bodies’ feedback to honestly assess whether we should push harder or back off. The idea is to approach your edge while maintaining a sense of ease. I found that in poses like triangle, if I honestly tuned in, I needed to adjust my head away from the “right” position in order to be able to find genuine ease in the posture. One thing Dina reinforced is that there’s no way of doing a posture that’s going to be right for everyone.
We closed the practice with chanting again, which, of course, bought me back to tears. Dealing with emotions is similar to dealing with physical discomfort. Just like in square pose, one part of me wanted to avoid the feelings of intensity and just back away from that edge, suppressing the emotions away somewhere. Another part of me wanted to stay with that intensity, let it well up, and maybe let some of it go. The group came together to reflect on the practice, and Dina suggested that I not wrack my brain to pinpoint the source of the emotions; she suggested I observe them for what they were in the present moment, with compassion and without judgment or attachment. Kind of like how Yoga Teacher Barbie addressed Yoga Student Barbie to deal with my resistance on Day 1, I was to take a step back and observe and support my emotions without getting stirred up by them (This type of detachment is referred to as Vairāgya). Adopting this mentality helped me find ease amidst those uncomfortable emotions so that I could ride them out, let them come, and let them go. A few days later, Dina shared a quote from Jennifer Welwood that expresses the value in riding out some uncomfortable conditions: “Each condition I flee from pursues me. Each condition I welcome transforms me.”
This post is part of a series describing my experience with the first module of my advanced yoga teacher training (RYT500).
Advanced Yoga Teacher Training
Day 1: Resistance
Day 2: Acceptance
Day 3: Breath
Day 4: Emotions
Day 5: Energy
Day 6: Asana
Day 7: Transformation