by Kira Archibald
“We are not humans having a spiritual experience,
we a spiritual beings having human experiences.”
If there is one thing I have learned in life it is that nothing is ever what you think it will be. This was so true about my journey of becoming a yoga teacher. I thought, like I expect most others do, that I would learn yoga poses and spiritual principles and that everything would be black and white like any other class. However in this journey I found that the focus was less about these concepts and concrete ideas and more a lesson on loving and excepting myself. I, of course, learned the poses and learned them well. I learned the concepts of anatomy and spirituality that go along with teaching yoga to others. I learned how to speak to a class and how to perform physical adjustments to help students in their yoga practice. All of this however became secondary to finding myself. I know I will never be able to explain in words the transformation I went through and be able to show you the immensity of the feelings and emotions that have come from it but I will give it a shot.
When I first signed up for yoga teacher training with Yoga Spirit I was nervous that I would not be able to physically keep up with the work or execute the poses in the most effective and beautiful way possible. I was stuck in the physical, which is where I had been all my life. My outlook was shallow even though I could intellectually understand the spiritual and emotional side of it. However, I could not feel it myself nor did I realize at the time how much deeper yoga was.
The classes began and I held onto my belief that everything had to be physically perfect and performed in a certain way. I could recite spiritual ideas but did not feel them. I hated myself when I couldn’t get into a pose correctly or contort my body in a specific way. I have always been a person of low tolerance for failure; I had not yet grasped the idea that I was perfect anyway. I sat there and listened to my teachers tell me that we are all perfect and tell me that I had to stand for the world to see and be proud of who I am right now, but I wasn’t proud and I was hiding from the world. I could see perfection in others but not in myself.
As the year went on my frustration turned to anger and sadness and at times resignation. There were times when I wanted to quit, times when I thought this wasn’t for me. My passion grew thin and my disappointment grew strong. Having never been a quitter before this was not an option now, so I pushed forward through the poses and the concepts and the teachings but I was missing a key element. I didn’t feel the poses or the teachings or in reality anything at all! I didn’t understand why I was not growing and coming into my light like everyone else. I watched as many of my classmates struggled with their own dragons and came out on the other side as beings of light and love.
I was struggling in my life too. Struggling with matters at home and work and now struggling in yoga teacher training. Instead of allowing my yoga practice to heal me I was using my yoga practice as a distraction from the obstacles in my life. That’s how I had always lived my life. When one part of my life was going wrong I found another skill or talent to mask my weakness. So I began to break down and cry and hate and withdraw. I expected people to give up on me and let me sink away silently and give up because it was just too damn hard. However, instead of being the end for me it was finally my time to wake up. My fellow students and my teachers held me up. They gave me their light and love and I could feel it.
Remembering these times to this day still makes my eyes well up with tears. They were my backbone when I didn’t have one. They could feel and understand what I needed. This is when I understood what it truly means to be a yoga teacher. We do not just support a person in physical poses and give them spiritual facts. We support them in mind body and soul because there is no separation. We are there to help make that connection like everyone in my teacher training group were there to help me.
It is impossible to show or explain the feeling of being supported in every way a person can be by a group of people who a year ago I did not even know existed. It sounds quirky to say that it was meant to be, that we were all brought to this place to share this journey but there is no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what happened. I’ve realized through this there is a difference between understanding yoga and knowing yoga. When you know yoga you know true happiness and strength. It is a feeling you must experience to know and as a yoga teacher it is my duty and pleasure to help. This is the true lesson of this training; it is not about perfect body position or perfect recitation of sutras. It is about knowing and feeling the support that yoga and its community brings to your life.
I am eternally grateful to this group of people I now consider to be friends no matter how much time passes between get togethers. Spiritually they will always be in my heart. This journey was hard in ways that I didn’t expect but that’s how it should be. Yoga teacher training teaches you more then you expect or at times want to learn. It forces you to face your dragons and unite your spiritual and physical being in order to slay those dragons.
Being a yoga teacher is so much more than I expected but it is also so much more rewarding then I expected. I would not trade my experience for the world. I have literally been reborn as a strong and connected person and have achieved things in my life that would not have been possible before already. I can only imagine the gifts I will encounter in my future.
Teacher Training is offered at Whitman Wellness Center