By CJ Ananda
In responding to inquiries for Yoga Teacher Trainings and Yoga Immersion programs over the years, I have found that many of the common questions revolve around being “good enough” or “ready” for such an intensive program. I also receive the same type of concern from students questioning whether a particular yoga class is going to be “too hard” or “too advanced”. My response is the same to both… Yoga is not about getting somewhere, accomplishing something or achieving a goal. It is about meeting yourself where you are on your path in that moment. I often say yoga is for everyone. If you are breathing mindfully and connecting with your body, breath and spirit, you are doing yoga.
In the same regard, I feel that Yoga Teacher Training and Yoga Immersion programs can be for everyone. There are many types of courses that focus on different styles of yoga, each with a different emphasis that makes them unique and appeals to a certain demographic. Some of these programs will be specifically geared toward taking your practice to a new level and may be more physically challenging. Some programs may have more of a focus on the history and philosophy of yoga, while others may delve more deeply into the spiritual and mystical realms of yoga like those that I teach at Present Moment.
Whatever the focus of the program, a resulting common denominator I have noticed is that students are deepening their own understanding of yoga, and are learning the tools for their own personal practice. Memorizing a particular yoga sequence provides a foundation for their personal practice at home and helps build the confidence necessary to begin expanding the practice in their own unique way.
After many years of having a regular practice, I find that one of the most beautiful aspects of Yoga is that it ultimately comes from the Source… guided by the teacher that already exists within me. I no longer think about sequencing, I don’t have to think about where to put my hand or when to breathe. It just flows out of me. However, in order to excel in any endeavor, we must first learn the basics. Taking the time to learn the foundational principles of yoga and having reverence for the ancestry of the teachings, is a necessary step in order for Spirit to guide us and show us how to access the divine wisdom of our own inner guru. Like learning to play an instrument, we must first learn the notes (the postures) and then the scales (the sequencing), before we can write our symphony (teach a class). Yoga trainings and immersions teach us these basic tools so that in time, we can create our own music that comes directly from the source, guided by the heart of our own inner wisdom.
This is when we find ourselves dancing in our living room with some Virabadrasanas and Ardha
Chandrasanas thrown in there, and we are calling it “yoga”! We have truly made the practice our own…we have expanded into and found OUR yoga. This ability to use our practice, whether it is playing an instrument or playing yoga, as a means to call in the divine, to connect with Spirit and to be guided by our own inner teacher, is one of the main reasons I believe that yoga trainings are for anyone!
Trainings and immersions offer a great opportunity to go within, to reveal ourselves to ourselves. As we begin to peel back the layers of our being, we begin to find our own truth, and the power to transform our lives. Yoga, practiced consistently and with intention, as it is done in most trainings, begins to open and purify the heart. It elevates the spirit, and naturally guides us to the true purpose of life… to learn to love, to give love and to Be Love! So whether you will ever teach a yoga class or not, by participating in a training you will have connected to Spirit, unveiled the essence of who you are and have a new way of sharing yourself with the world. Sounds like a teacher to me.