Yoga Teacher Training Week 1 – The Gateway Inwards

By Samara Holliday
Downward Dog Yoga

To be under the guidance of a teacher with a wealth of personal experience, yogic knowledge and more importantly a teacher who lives their yoga has evoked immense healing within myself. The more I learn in my yoga teacher training the more I realise I am only at the beginning. That the study and practice of yoga truly is a lifelong journey. A true understanding of the first yoga sutra

1.1 Now, after having done prior preparation through life and other practices, the study and practice of Yoga begins.

During our first week of training Silvia led us through a practice for healing the root chakra. She guided us to view each pose as a question, a way of going deeper within ourselves with intention and awareness.

This practice was about presence, the essence of the root chakra. No matter how many quotes or articles I had read, or even written myself, about the importance of being in the present moment, the embodiment of presence didn’t truly hit me until this practice. In each pose we were guided to be completely aware of our physical bodies and thoughts that arose. Through Silvia’s guidance I became aware of my monkey mind, jumping from thought to thought, wondering when I would finally get to move from my shaky, long-held chaturanga into upward dog.

Silvia guided us to allow each pose to take us deeper by encouraging us to completely surrender, expect nothing and ask ourselves these questions; Can I be totally present in this moment? Can I be with each second of my breath and be totally content with where I am? Can I let go of where I have been or where I want to go and just drink in each breath and moment as it comes? No. I realised my monkey mind had the better of me.

My mind was screaming to move from chaturanga to upward dog, but instead I was led back to plank, where I began hoping for downward dog, my arms, actually my mind, had had enough. Holding plank we went back to chaturanga, back to plank (are these pushups!?) and I realised I had to stop wishing for the next pose, or moment, or I will wish my life away. The next pose or the next moment in life won’t necessarily be any better or any easier. We have to find comfort and peace within ourselves, with our breath, with complete awareness in the eternal now.

Learning to be totally present (and I mean totally!) is much more difficult when we are in uncomfortable situations, like shaking ridiculously in chaturanga or when things don’t go as we expected. We tend to wish away the present moment and look forward to a ‘better more exciting’ future, or we long to go back to a moment of bliss in the past, but when we are in this thought pattern we will never be free. In the present moment there is this vast freedom, limitless opportunities and immense peace. This endless moment of time that is now. And only from the present moment can we grow with awareness and be guided by our intuition. It is true when they say all your dreams are made real from deep roots in the present moment.

Through this practice of complete awareness of body and mind, I realised my healing journey must begin from my root chakra and Silvia saw that in me before I did. I need to sink roots into the present moment with a deep trust that I do not need to plan ahead to be safe or secure, that from this moment my every need will be and always has been provided for.

This past week has been intense, physically and emotionally. Shining the light on the deepest darkest caves of my mind has helped me fully grasp the deep internal healing that yoga can offer. The way in which Silvia guides each class is a whole new experience in itself, so beyond the physical practice, her choice of words and energy touching wounds and tender spots within me that I didn’t even know I had. This is the first time I have felt truly seen, raw and vulnerable. She intuitively, with love and compassion, shines a light onto places within that need healing. Perhaps the biggest challenge is taking the lessons learned on the mat and integrating them into daily life. I am learning that the physical asanas are merely the gateway inwards.

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