Yoga Teacher Training: Week 6
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self” – The Bhagavad Gita
This quote sums up this week for me and the reasons I initially embarked on this journey - to deepen my practice and embark on a spiritual journey to my true self. We all have these wheels of energy in our bodies called chakras. Each chakra can be blocked or overactive and everything we do in yoga can either awaken or quiet these energetic spheres. Chakras can also be the focus of meditation to help us connect with the needs of our bodies and minds. Chakras really bring everything together for me. Credit to Katie Roach for my picture this week!
Have you ever taken a yoga class and thought the teacher was speaking a foreign language? Did your eyes glaze over when you heard words like chaturanga dandasana, balasana, drishti, bandha or uttanasana? You are not alone and the teacher was speaking a different language – Sanskrit! Sanskrit is the universal language of yoga and each asana (pose) has its own name. Many yoga studios translate these names into English so students can better understand cues, but those names may differ between studios. We use Sanskrit in yoga because it clarifies language by referencing a universally known name for the pose. Most instructors will lead with the English name followed by Sanskrit, so you are getting a language lesson with each yoga class, too! Sanskrit used in class also pays respect to the tradition of yoga.
On the second night, we completed two full C1 round robin classes which gave us the opportunity to teach two different posture series. When we complete these round robin classes, you don’t know which series you’ll teach until your name is called – stressful! As a class, for some reason we were all a little nervous the first time around and settled back into our yogi selves the second round. This was the first class we went straight into teaching, so maybe we were all just a little rusty after the Thanksgiving break. We received feedback from our instructors between the classes, which was very helpful. I was assigned the balance series the first round and wasn’t as confident with my cues for this series, so I didn’t think it went very well. I was pretty hard on myself, but my instructors did a great job of pointing out positives and giving me productive feedback. During the break between classes, I re-grouped and did much better the second class – I was also assigned Sun Salutation B, which I’m much more comfortable teaching! Overall, I think it was a great learning experience for all of us.
Who knew we had all these little wheels of energy in our body that can become imbalanced – either becoming blocked or overactive? These energy imbalances can affect our physical bodies as well as our minds. Before our chakras lecture, we took a quiz to better understand which of our chakras needed attention. Here’s a quick summary of the 7 chakras!
Chakra 7 - The Crown Located at the crown of our head. Represents a connection to our Highest Self, the Universe and the Divine.
Chakra 6 - The Third Eye Located in the middle of our forehead. We are able to see not with our eyes, but with our hearts and minds - our intuition, inner vision and wisdom.
Chakra 5 - The Throat Located deep in our throats and is the seat of communication and truth. In balance, this chakra allows us to speak our truth because we already understand what matters to us by having an honest, meaningful relationship with the self.
Chakra 4 - The Heart Located at heart center. It is the center of compassion, unconditional love, harmony and peace. When in balance, there is a feeling of calm and peace and we are able to give and receive love. An imbalanced heart chakra can lead to distrust of others and self and fear or letting love in or a feeling of sadness without explanation.
Chakra 3 - The Solar Plexus Located above the navel and is concerned with our digestive system. This chakra represents the fire within us that causes transformation and action – feelings of personal power including confidence and self-esteem. In balance, you feel in control of your life without being attached to outcomes and have a strong sense of self.
Chakra 2 - The Sacral Located between the base of your spine and your navel. This chakra represents desire for pleasure, creativity and the need to procreate.
Chakra 1 - Root Chakra Located at the base of your spine. Concerned with your earthly grounding, physical survival and fight or flight response. It represents our need for food, shelter and safety. In balance, relationships are steady and strong and you are comfortable in your home and your basic needs are easily met.
Chanting has always been something I’m not very comfortable with in yoga. One of the reasons I liked taking classes at CorePower was that the instructors very rarely included chants in class. As part of our Sanskrit lecture, we learned a few chants and the meaning behind them. I’m still not all that comfortable with chanting, but I do have a new appreciation and understanding for the benefits. Chanting can be used in conjunction with meditation and it can produce a calming, relaxing, beautiful sound.
The chakras are fascinating and I can’t wait to learn more and use my knowledge to better understand myself. When I took the chakra quiz, I found out that my Heart Chakra was very imbalanced – when I read the description, it seemed fitting for where I am in my life right now. As we reviewed each chakra, I recognized which of my chakras were in balance, slightly imbalanced or really in need of work! I think my Root, Sacral, Crown and Throat chakras are in balance and my Solar Plexus, Heart and Third Eye could use some love. Based on this knowledge I can better understand myself, which meditations I should focus on and how to make changes to find balance - really cool stuff!
As a student….
This week, I signed up for two classes at outside studios – a vinyasa flow class at Yoga Six and a community flow class at Yoga Loft.
At Yoga Six, my class was taught by one of my CorePower teacher training instructors. She was wonderful and the class was great, but it was a different experience. I signed up for the class online and when I arrived, the front desk employee checked me in and showed me around the studio. The locker rooms were very nice and very similar to the locker rooms at CorePower in what they provided. The temperature of the studio was cooler than I’m accustomed to, but I knew I hadn’t signed up for a hot yoga class. The floors were padded instead of wood, which felt comfy. The room was long and narrow with mirrors in the front, which made it difficult to find a spot to check your alignment. They had two students that handed out blocks and introduced themselves to each class participant and helped with assists throughout class.. The flow was new, but my instructor did a great job of cueing each posture.
At Yoga Loft, I signed up for a donation community class which was open to all levels of yogis. The studio is smaller than Yoga Six or CorePower and is exactly as described – a loft! There were two studios for class and we practiced in a studio with no mirrors and the class was not heated – chilly, actually. The instructor provided breath and posture cues, but I found the flow a little disjointed and the deepening cues a little unclear. Keep in mind, I’ve been submerged in the CorePower C1 sequence for 6 weeks!
Overall, both classes were good yoga classes, but I still prefer CorePower and am reassured that I chose the right teacher training program for me. As a side note - I can’t say enough how convenient it is to just show up for class instead of signing up online ahead of time. CorePower is the only studio I’m aware of that you don’t have to sign up for class – just show up and practice!
My aha moment….
In our break between teaching classes this week, I realized I wasn’t following one of the yamas I wrote about previously – ahimsa. Ahimsa represents non-harm, non-violence and compassion towards others and self. I had a moment of being a little too hard on myself and circled back to this yama to help reset my mind and do better the next round.
The chakras were my favorite part of the week and I’ll leave you with another quote that beautifully sums up everything.
“Reconciling the conscious and subconscious emotions in the specific arena of each chakra will create a flow of energy and personality in which the human is consistent and not defeated, and has conscious goals.” – Yogi Bhajan