“Always do what you are afraid to do” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
When the thought of attending the 500-Hour Life of a Yogi Teacher Training first entered my mind, I almost automatically dismissed the idea. I had so many reasons NOT to attend (mother of two young children, travelling husband, a plane ride away from NYC, no housing in the city, etc.)
What I learned was that when I committed to my dream, the obstacles fell away. It may take some time, and definitely some effort, but the result – well, is simply too great to put into mere words. Dive in, take a chance, and find a way to GO.
There will be moments in the training that will challenge you – physically, mentally, spiritually – and you must always remember that is why you are here. Open the whole of your mind, even the places that you are least aware of: the places that hold onto resistance. Allow the words, people, experiences, and lessons to pour into those hidden places. Listen with an open heart and mind, and the information will be absorbed. Weeks, months after you leave, you will hear these words and learn these lessons…they will reside in the mind and heart, and the space you created within.
“Imagination is powerful. You go as far as you can imagine”– Sri Dharma Mittra
You are going to be tired at some point. You will physically and mentally hit the proverbial wall. You will move past it. I promise you, a second wind comes along and you will be renewed.
I second-guessed myself initially, but that fell away after time. My mind let go of the attachments to thoughts and emotions that often distract us and inhibit us from fully committing to something. We live in the real world, and the world does not like to be left behind. It will pull at you, distract you, and sometimes overwhelm you. Give yourself time to allow these things to come up. They are natural and they will pass.
Apply disciplined effort to your practice. Let the physical practice act as a brush to scrub away at whatever negative tendencies you may have. Let it invigorate you, regenerate you. Your physical practice will grow by leaps and bounds through dedication and practice, practice, practice.
Finally, use your imagination – Sri Dharma talks about this often and it truly resonated with me. Imagine yourself to be a better person, mother, father, daughter, son, friend, partner – a better yogi. Use your imagination as fuel to show yourself that what you pursue is attainable through effort, dedication, study, and time.
Fourth: Be a Student
“In learning you will teach and in teaching, you will learn” Phil Collins
Lose all preconceptions. Take off the teacher hat and allow yourself to commit to being a student. Listen and learn: from Sri Dharma, the mentors, your fellow trainees. Watch your own mind and learn how to apply all that you receive to yourself, your life, your teaching. Apply the lessons to every aspect of your life. You will be amazed at how the things you are exposed to relate to your roles in life – as a person, yogi, teacher, parent, child, friend, partner, spouse. This is truly the LIFE of a yogi training!
Listen as much as possible. You will want to take notes, but if you can, take time to just be still and listen. Let go and simply absorb the information and the words. Listen to other people’s questions and answers and try not to be too eager to answer them for yourself, even in your own mind. Let other people share, and let their knowledge and experiences become part of your own.
Fifth: Smile, live, learn, laugh…and do your homework!
“Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it” Lao Tzu
Enjoy the training! Every day, it becomes more of a part of you and integrates itself into your very being. Sri Dharma is always quick with a smile and a kind-hearted joke. He understands the power of laughter and the importance of joy. The training will go faster than you think, so soak up every minute! When you leave between sessions or after the final interval, do your homework! Remember that you are going to be able to do it and what’s more, you will enjoy it. After my internship ended, I found that much of the homework has become a part of my daily life. After talking with many other trainees, this is the case with most of us. Carry it forward. Apply it. LIVE it.
Sixth and finally: Go back
“Well, sometimes home is a person” –B.Revis
I understand how hard to is to travel to New York City. Still, I would encourage you to go back as much as you can. Go home, and by home I mean return to Sri Dharma and be in his presence.
However, if you are very far and it is not possible for you to physically go, keep in touch with people through the internet, the phone, however you can to maintain the connection. I have found myself using Facebook to keep in contact with other trainees and to touch base with the Center – daily! You can see pictures of Sri Dharma, the mentors, your friends. You can read quotes from Sri Dharma (and yes, you hear his voice!) You see familiar faces and smiles and all at once, you are home.
In closing, ultimately this experience is a very personal one. I wish that everyone who is undecided about going could understand one thing – you will never regret going, but you may regret having never been. ____________________________________________
Jennifer has a undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree with a specialty in Counseling. She had a career as a counselor working with clients of all ages and backgrounds, in varying environments, with a wide range of needs and concerns. After her time as a counselor, Jennifer began her life as a mother, the most rewarding and challenging career of all. She believes that her education, practice, and history as a counselor, and mother, play an important role in her yoga practice and her teaching. She believes strongly that a truly dedicated spiritual and physical yoga practice can transform, enhance, and expand the life of the practitioner. Jennifer had the honor to study with Sri Dharma Mittra for both the LOAY 200- and 500-Hour Teacher Trainings, and recently graduated from the 500-hour Life of a Yogi Teacher Training. Jennifer studied with numerous other teachers, but continues to find her strength, inspiration, knowledge, direction, and guidance from Sri Dharma. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband and two children. Jennifer teaches regular weekly classes in Virginia Beach and continues to travel to NYC at every available opportunity to study under Sri Dharma and the Senior Teachers at the NYC Center.
At age 45, Sri Dharma Mittra photographed himself in 1,350 postures as an act of devotion to his Guru, Yogi Gupta. 908 of these photos were used to create the Master Yoga Chart and 608 were published in his book: Asanas.