The Life of a Yogi
I feel like I never really understood the meaning of this phrase, “Be receptive”, until today. Even though I’ve been teaching Dharma Yoga for over a year now, and saying it at the end of every class, I feel like I am just now grasping the depth and the universality of the statement.
Today began with pranayama, dharana, dhyana, and spiritual discourse with Sri Dharma Mittra. I was still a little nervous when I arrived this morning; I didn’t sleep very well last night (lots of mental chatter as soon as we turned off the light), so when I entered the temple and saw a large number of people already arrived and seated, seemingly deep in meditation, I felt another wave of intimidation.
Then, of course, Sri Dharma came into the room and made a little joke; if you have ever been in his presence you have probably experienced the warmth of his smile, as well as this seemingly magical ability of his to melt away inhibitions and insecurities… In a way I think that’s part of what makes him such an incredible teacher – he helps you feel like anything is possible, and helps your ego get out of your own way.
Anyway! We began with Kapalabhati, Bhastrika, Nadi Sodhana Pranayama, and Anuloma Viloma. Sri Dharma then read from the Bhagavad Gita, and he actually quoted one of the passages that I wrote about in my pre-training homework: “Whatever may be the form a devotee seeks to worship with faith – in that form alone I make his faith unwavering.” (from the chapter entitled, “The Way of Realization”). Hearing him quote from this passage and remembering that it had resonated so deeply with me upon first reading it somehow made me feel a deep sense of purpose… Another little reminder that I really am meant to be here at this training.
Today was not the most grueling schedule (thank goodness), but it definitely reminded me that many of the most difficult aspects of this training are the elements that you don’t necessary anticipate or think about beforehand: the lower-level Dharma practices (has Dharma II always been that hard, or was it just because it was the second full practice of the day?), SITTING (so physically challenging, and mentally challenging for me personally), staying present and receptive despite exhaustion… Because of course the exhaustion is inevitable, but it’s not something you really think about beforehand.
We had a little orientation following the sessions with Sri Dharma, and Adam talked a lot about being receptive – the idea that we have all chosen to be here, and so it will enrich the whole thing if we sort of surrender our past experiences and just accept what is being given to us. It’s not to say that anything we learned before is wrong, but just to help us follow all these practices with integrity, in the way they were meant to be received.
We then had a Dharma IV class with Yoshio, which was actually not as insanely hard as I thought it might be. I’ve been taking a lot of Dharma III, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I felt great afterwards. I even held my handstand for more than 2.5 seconds (the normal average for me)!
We had a nice long lunch break, so my roommate and I went to the park and ate together… It was nice to be outside and just sit for a while. After lunch we had a long session with the mentors breaking down the “how-to” of teaching the Dharma II sequence. We got to practice teaching right away – with just one partner – and it was nice to start to get to know the people in my small group! Andrew is my mentor, which is excellent (I mean, they all are, but I do love taking Andrew’s class, so I’m very excited to learn from him on this level). Around 5:30 Melissa taught a Dharma II practice, which for some reason was just SO hard for me. But I was proud that I caught myself in several moments during the practice – I would notice myself starting to sort of shut down because I was tired, and I would say, “Now wait a minute. Why am I having this reaction? Try to stay receptive.” Hopefully my mental capacities to catch myself in moments like this will only increase as we go deeper!
After the practice, we continued the breakdown of the sequence and practiced teaching a little bit more. To finish, we sat in our small groups and designated karma yoga duties. All in all, a very promising first day. I have no idea how I will feel in the morning, but maybe it’s better not to have expectations anyway.
About halfway through the day I realized I forgot to take pictures all morning, so apologies for the lack of fun media… I will try to capture more exciting moments tomorrow!
My teaching partner demonstrating sirshasana