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Week 3- "Practice and All is Coming"

The final 2 weeks of my Yoga Teacher Training were very busy and intense so as I am writing this I have actually already graduated from the course and now have my certification! Week 4 post is coming soon!

Week 3

The title of this post "Practice and all is coming" is a quote by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. During this time we began to learn about several yoga philosophies such as Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Ashtanga Yoga. A common theme was that one should not overly focus on the results of their actions and practices but instead focus on the process. The results will take care of themselves.

Here I am practicing tree pose ( Vrksasana)

During week 3 I have now become very accustomed to the routine of twice daily asana practice. We have also begun to delve deeper into yogic practices. Additionally we also began to practice asana in other classes such as during anatomy and during the newly scheduled adjustment and alignment class which has replaced our mantra class. With this additional asana practice it wasn't uncommon to be practicing yoga positions for 4-5 hours a day. At this point I also began to get a taste for teaching and structuring yoga lessons. One of the first teaching assignments that we were given included working with a partner to create a 20 minute sequence with a peak pose. Several times we would also be called on randomly to teach a sun salutation sequence, or to sit on the platform in the front of the class and lead the class through the opening mantra. This experience definitely put me outside of my comfort zone but as I did it more often it began to get easier and helped me to fulfill one of the intentions that I set during the beginning of the course which was to gain confidence in teaching.

Now in addition to all of the asana practice and teaching experience that we were gaining, we were now introduced to some shatkarma/ shatkriya practices. These are 6 bodily cleansing processes. They include:

1) Jala Neti- nasal wash with saline solution. This one I was actually familiar with because I often use a nasal rinse to clear my sinuses when I have allergy issues. Though something that I did learn is that it is actually not good to do a nasal rinse when you are sick because it removes protective mucous and exposes you further to pollen and germs. We performed this cleansing during both the 3rd and 4th weeks. Another form of net cleansing is surya neti where a long peace of cloth is used to cleanse the nasal passage. We practiced with a rubber string which is easier for beginners. The objective was to place the string into the nose and all the way through the nasal cavity and out of the mouth, then use a back and forth motion on both ends of the string to cleanse the naval cavities. Due to my squeamishness and not being able to get past the slight pain of sticking a foreign object up my nose I was not successful in this practice.

Here is the neti pot used for the jala neti and the rubber string used for the surya neti.

2) Dhauti- abdominal cleansing with saline solution. Essentially you drink a liter of salt water and then press on your stomach muscle on the left side of your body as you release the contents of the water back up out of your mouth. A finger down the throat can be used to get the flow moving for beginners. Yes it is essentially self induced vomiting and yes I did it. Its also important to add that this is best practiced on an empty stomach so you are only releasing the salt water that you took in and not actual food particles.

3) Nauli- this is an abdominal massage cleansing where you move and contort your abdominal muscles side to side and up and down in a wavy fluid motion. It helps to create heat in your abdominal area and release toxins. We did not practice this one.

4) Basti- this is enema body cleansing and can be performed with water (Jala Basti) or dry (Sthal Basti). We did not practice this technique but something that I found fascinating is that it is performed by physically using your anal sphincter muscles to suck water into your bowels and then release it out of your anus. That's right if you have enough control of your body it is possible to suck water into your bum hole without using an enema bowl or bag just your own body.

5) Kapalbhati- this is a pranayama cleansing exercise where you forcibly and repeatedly exhale through your nose. The inhalation happens automatically and is passive. We practiced this several times throughout the course.

6) Trataka- finally this cleansing technique used concentrated gazing to produce tears. It is often performed by gazing at a candle with open eyes not blinking and focus until the eyes begin to water. The flame of the candle should be at eye level and horizontal. After some time the eyes are closed while now focusing on the image of the flame in your mind.

Celebrating International Yoga Day

Since the course took place in the month of June, I was able to celebrate International Yoga Day in India with my classmates and hundreds of other yogis and yoginis! International Yoga day takes place on June 21st each year and corresponds with the summer solstice or first day of summer. To celebrate we attended a large yoga gathering in Ram Jhula where we did yoga with about 200 other practitioners.

Here I am super excited that I am about to be celebrating International Yoga Day in Rishikesh India, the birth place of yoga.

We then took part in a Ganga Aarti ceremony and watched some very beautiful and talented yoga performances.

Here I am holding a flower during the Ganga Aarti celebration.

Here is a picture of one of the amazing yoga performances that was put on for the crowd.

Here is a short video of another amazing performance of pole yoga.

It was quite an enjoyable day and we afterwards celebrated further with a dinner at a local restaurant.