You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2009.

I don’t really have anything inspirational and spiritual to write I suppose. The last few days have been crazy busy with things other than yoga… unfortunately.

Today during my lunch break I had to call the yoga alliance to see if they had processed my RYT application yet. When you get trained to be a yoga teacher you can register with the yoga alliance and you get a card and everything… really as long as you’ve graduated from a registered school it’s not much of an approval process as long as you pay their fees. That said, a lot of gyms and studios want to see that you have registered with RYT and won’t hire you without it. I wanted to call to see if there was anything they could send me in the e-mail to show that I submitted my application (on July 2) but they said that if I haven’t received an e-mail yet it means they haven’t even gotten to my application. June and July tend to be busier times of the year because a lot of a yoga schools have their graduations. So… I practiced patience, though I hung up a little too soon and the guy was still talking – but that was completely unintentional. I have a bad habit of hanging up when I think the conversation is over without saying goodbye. Hopefully the fax confirmation will be enough to prove that I actually registered.

This all said I was talking to one of my friends and the owner of the yoga studio I work at about whether or not I should let my students know that I have virtually no experience teaching yoga, and she said: ‘“Teacher Training” is a piece of paper. Teaching comes from a place much deeper than that.”‘ And she is so correct… aren’t yogis brilliant in such a simple way?

After I called the alliance I called the yoga insurance company to see what’s going on with that application. They were slightly more helpful and I got my certificate of liability. This you need if you are subbing a lot, doing individual lessons, or working at places that don’t cover you with their insurance. I mainly got it because I want to start volunteering for an organization called Kula for Karma. Definately check out their website… I’m going to link it in the side bar. They bring yoga to people who otherwise may never find the practice.

Hmm… other than that I’ve been getting calls to sub, so I’ll be subbing a lot in August. I’m going to start a page on this that lets you all know my schedule. Most exciting however is that on August 16th I’ll be subbing the community class at Garden State Yoga and am SO excited about it… and very nervous at the same time. Much more to come on that as the days get closer 🙂

I suppose to leave you with something semi-inspirational I’ll leave you with a quote: “Courage cannot exist in isolation. Just as a flower needs sun, air, soil, and water to bloom, your courage depends on your interdependence with people and things. You must contemplate deeply to understand that when you do what is possible, you are not in a free fall, but are cradled by your interdependence with the world around you”

This quote speaks to me now as I face my anxieties and fears about starting my journey of teaching yoga. It has spoken to me in the past because I know for me recovery often feels like a free fall… like I am taking this leap of faith that no one understands and with no one to catch me. However, what this quote is saying is that a free fall is when you do attempt something that is impossible… Recovery is not impossible. It may feel like a free fall, but it is not because you are cradled by the support of others who have jumped and landed OK. What I’m beginning to learn however, which I probably wouldn’t have written a month or so ago, is that not only are you cradled by those who have come before you, but you are supported by those who may never fully understand, but support you whole-heartedly nonetheless.

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Last week I ordered the book “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield, after my yoga mentor said that I should read it. It is described as an “important book written on meditation, the process of inner transformation, and the integration of spiritual practice into our American way of life.” I’m always up for reading things that will further my knowledge of myself and yoga… though I am currently working on about 3 of such books: “Meditations from the Mat,” “Yoga from the inside out,” and “Happy Yoga.” Plus, I’m re-reading “Appetites” which is perhaps the only memoir of an anorexic I have read that goes much further than merely appetite for food. So, we’ll see how I do with this book as well.

I definately think that I should read it though. Meditation has never come easy to me, which I don’t think is unusual. I suppose I could blame it on the fact that when I took a quiz in my teacher training about which dosha I was, it said I was vata. My elements are space and air and supposedly I am often anxious and find it difficult to sit still and settle down. Whenever I try meditating I become very aware of my body. My muscles and bones start to ache and I get itchy and my back starts to hurt.

However, meditation is an extremely important part of yoga. In fact what most westerners consider to be yoga (poses to tone the buns and thighs) is merely one limb of the 8 limbs of yoga. Meditation is encompassed in the higher limbs and these poses are meant to move the body in specific ways to make it easier to sit in meditation; it’s easier to sit after you’ve moved.

There are many different techniques to assist in meditation. Some people use mala beads, others mala beads in conjuction with a mantra (aka japa). Some simply use breath. A few months ago I decided to try to find a mantra that I related to that I could repeat when I attempted to meditate. The one I ended up choosing was the mantra of green tara… and this is where the username “Om tare” comes from.

“Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha” is the mantra. The first thing that drew me to it was that Green Tara is a female, and that spoke to the feminist in me. “Tare Tuttare Ture” is a play on Tara’s name and it is supposed to represent three levels of salvation. Tara protects us against ordinary wordly dangers and spiritual dangers which cause individual suffering and she also protects us from narrowmindedness by leading us to use these two salvations to help save others.

It took me a while to figure out how to say this at the same time that I worked on breathing so that I didn’t feel like I was rushing. However I then read an article on Ajapa-Japa meditation, which means you constantly repeat the mantra without paying particular attention to how it works with the breath, which is supposed to aid in concentration as it doesn’t allow for time to think of other things… so I tend to do that, though I find regular japa meditation more relaxing.

The only other meditation I found that worked for me was trataka, or eye cleansing. What we did was sit in a dark room with a candle about 6 inches from our eyes and stared at it until our eyes watered (the cleansing part). We then closed our eyes and it was really interesting. You know when you look at fireworks and then close your eyes and can still see the fireworks? That’s essentially what happened. When you close your eyes you still see the candle and so it gives you a visual focus, right where your third eye would be, even though your eyes are still closed. I thought it was pretty cool.

So there is a lot I feel like I could write about in the first post. For example, how yoga helped my eating disorder, or what exactly my user name “Om Tare” comes from, or just a history of myself. I’ve decided to leave the user name to a later post… like tomorrow… and just discuss briefly where the concept of this all came from.

I was sick with anorexia for four years. I use the term “was” sort of loosely, because I am not fully recovered, if one can ever be truely fully recovered. But where I am now compared to where I was just a little over a year ago, and actually even only about 6 months ago, is so far. I won’t get into what started it, or what has maintained it, but the things I attribute to what has been helping me beat it are a good therapist, a good nutritionist, good friends, and a lot of yoga.

I started doing yoga before I started recovering. I was focusing on Bikram Yoga and did it for a number of reasons. The first, an eating disordered reason, was that I heard it burned a lot of calories. The second was that I loved seeing how I progressed and got better with practice. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. After starting my recovery I changed from bikram yoga to focusing more on vinyasa yoga. I started doing yoga in recovery because it was a little bit of activity, which made me feel good, and wasn’t excessive. It was good for me to be able to go to a class, have it end, and then be done exercising.

That is why I started. However, what has maintained my practice of yoga goes way beyond the physical. I found the spiritual practice of yoga to be the most beneficial aspect of it. I loved when my instructors would say, “Approach each class as if you have never done yoga before.” Learning to not judge my practice was hard for me, but I’m getting better at it. My instructor always tells me not to choose favorite poses because one day you might be able to go far into a pose, and the next you might not. I love the idea of listening to my body and being OK with where it is comfortable going every day. I also like the concentration it takes. When I am balancing in warrior 3, or in forearm stand, it is not possible to be thinking about anything else, including what I have eaten, what I weigh, or even how well I am doing in the pose.

I’m a perfectionist and like to push myself way too hard and so when one of my instructors tells me to never push myself beyond being able to breathe comfortably it feels so strange, and yet comfortable. I also take myself too seriously sometimes, and a lot of times I hear instructors say “it’s only yoga.” When you fall, laugh at yourself and try again. Finally, I’m not religious at all, however feel like I am spiritual. I feel like I’m looking for something to believe in, and I want that something to be myself. You know how in AA they refer to your “higher power?” Well, I feel like my higher power is myself the best it can be… reaching Samadhi… which most likely will not happen in this lifetime.

Through yoga I’ve learned to respect my body for what it can do for me and not how it looks. Yoga is not easy and it takes more than natural flexibility. It takes concentration, muscular strength, balance, and patience, among so many other things. Being able to do a pose that at one point I was unable to do feels like a huge accomplishment, and is perhaps the only accomplishment that can mirror the feeling of losing a pound or two.

I got certified to be a yoga instructor because I hope to focus my school studies on yoga and recovery from addictions and eating disorders. I have to admit, I still have trouble consistently applying the principles of yoga to my everyday life. However, yoga for me has been so beneficial.

Girls with eating disorders have such a severe disconnection between their minds and bodies and yoga is all about forging that connection; yoga actually means “yuj” or “union.” It’s all about not pushing your body further than its willing to go on any given day and accepting that every day, every minute, your body is different and that that is OK. It’s about not judging your abilities. Yoga studios have no mirrors in them because its about how you feel and not how you look. You know you are in the right pose or position based on how your body aligns and its something that just clicks. I feel like in yoga I have really found something that is going to be a key player in me fully recovering. You need to replace addictive behaviors with new things. Relationships are one thing necessary to replace them… but I think yoga is my other. It is my way to foster my relationship with myself.

It’s important to dive deep within ourselves to find the root of our problems. The only way to really get over things is to get them at the root. The bad things are like weeds… if you don’t dig up the roots of the weeds the weeds just keep growing. You can cut them at the surface, but they will grow back.

For recovery we really need to learn about ourselves and our disorder and where it comes from because it comes from somewhere. It might be painful and scary and it might be easier to just cut them at the surface and skim the top… but they’ll come back. Do the hard work to make sure they don’t come back. Yoga forces you to dive deep.

My life was changed by yoga about a year ago when it became the main catalyst for me to overcome anorexia. Ever since I have been practicing daily and graduated a 200 hour teacher training one month ago. I am constantly learning about yoga and about myself in an attempt to spread the benefits of such a holistic practice.