Last month I participated in Level 1 Journey Into Power Teacher Training with Baron Baptiste. I went to the weeklong boot camp to strengthen my teaching and assisting skills and to find out if my friends who had already participated in Baron’s bootcamps were right when they told me Level 1 would change my life. One of the 130 participants of the training summed it up well when she said, “I came here to learn how to be a better teacher; but instead, I am learning how to be a better me!”
For me, Level 1 was about being seen through the eyes of others. Through other’s open and honest feedback to me I learned many things, in particular that I was trying too hard in my teaching. “Quit trying, Sara,” one of my teammates said to me, “and just be yourself.”
Just be. That’s a lot easier said than done. But as I sat with those words, I saw that “trying” rather than “being” came up a lot in my life. I was always trying to accomplish something, trying to meet what I thought were other’s expectations of me, trying to practice my yoga better.Â Why couldn’t I just be?
During Level 1 Baron encouraged us to give up what we must in order to show up in our lives and as yoga teachers as powerful and authentic. What was holding me back? As the week’s practices and exercises began to digest in my heart and mind, I learned that what I needed to give up were judgment and expectation.
The first morning class, for example, was very difficult for me. It was long, physically challenging, and hot. As I struggled through class my mind kicked in full speed, as it often does: “How come you are so tired, Sara? Why isn’t your practice as strong as it normally is? You should be trying harder. This pose should be cake for you. You are better than this…” And on and on. I was clearly judging myself and comparing my practice to past experiences instead of practicing with what was currently real for me. And because my mind got the best of me, I fought myself, my head, through most of the four-hour asana practice. Needless to say, it didn’t make the practice any easier.
Through others’ sharing at Level 1, I learned that how we treat ourselves is often how we treat others. So if I was being judgmental of myself during practice and in my life, where was I being judgmental of others? I started becoming more present to the thoughts that race through my head when I am with other people; thoughts I hadn’t even realized were there before. In my head I was trying to figure others out when I was with them, and creating my own story about who they are and what I thought they were thinking. From this place I was then trying (there is that trying again!) to be who I thought they wanted me to be. With all this trying and judging, I miss out on just being with each person. When I drop the story in my head and allow myself to just be, I am able to see beauty in everyone. I am able to be real with them. I also notice that when I stop judging myself and let go of expectations, I see the beauty and power within me.
Through the other yogis at Level 1, I uncovered strengths that I never realized I possess. My teaching team, for example, highlighted integrity, equanimity, and commitment to growth as three of my strongest traits. By being present and being real with me, my team was able to empower me, and in turn, I was able to empower them.
Courtesy of Bala Vinyasa Yoga.
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Â© Copyright 2011 Â Allison Stuart Kaplan Â www.Askinyourface.com LLC