Coming into the final days of my Yoga Teacher Training I find myself reminiscing on the past 6 weeks and I am in awe of how fast it came and went. I feel like it was just yesterday I was unpacking my bag in my apartment. Speaking of baggage there has been so much I've unpacked metaphorically speaking since then that has been fundamentally life changing and when I think of those moments the time catches up. I've met a group of big hearted, beautiful and caring humans and I will be ever so grateful for having the pleasure of spending this time working side by side of each and every one of them. It's been one of the toughest challenges I've ever pushed myself through but the reward is priceless. I've created a lifestyle for myself that I want rather than self destructing in one I hated. In saying that I find myself wondering who I will be once I head home and how I will implement the tools I have learnt in every day life. I have learnt some valuable lessons to carry with me once I leave this place:
Food is Medicine
I have been on this bandwagon for quite sometime but never completely implemented it into my own diet. I was cutting out toxins and known allergies and intolerances but still eating a lot of stuff that was putting pressure on my digestive tract and liver such at fats, meat and other things that my stomach and system couldn't handle with the fragile state that it was in. I came into this course with rashes and digestive issues from a weakened immune system. After 6 weeks of a vegan, gluten free diet consisting of mainly fruits (bananas and papayas for the most part) and void of all processed sugars (only natural sugar from small amounts of honey and fruits/freshly squeezed or blended fruit juices) or any type of animal produce I am now frolicking around with the clearest skin I've had in as long as I can remember, completely healed and not an itch in sight.
Hydration is King
Speaking of skin, I can absolutely attest to looking 5 years younger! My skin has been completely replenished and rejuvenated. Fine lines are gone and I'm literally glowing. In fact, I look around in class and there isn't a face that isn't beaming with vitality. I never drank enough H2O and constantly felt dehydrated and dry and it was showing in my face. H2O is the new botox I say. Apart from making me look great I've felt a huge difference in the way my body is running. I feel lighter and more fluid (pun intended) rather than heavy and sluggish. It's such a remarkable difference. I will be chugging 1 litre of water in the morning and before bed and then some in between until I die! The one thing I will miss about India is the fresh young coconuts that are literally on tap here in India and cost a mere 50 cents only.
The Art of a Sharp Mind
FOCUS! Oh how I lack thee! I've always had trouble concentrating on one thing for more than a few seconds or minutes without my mind wandering or flicking the channel that is my fleeting brain. One of the main reasons I had chosen such a strict and challenging course was that I did not possess the ability to be able to hone in on the silence of the mind for long periods and felt like somewhere that doesn't do things lightly was the best place for me. I have fought against the depressive thoughts in my head and won, although, stress and anxious feelings are still a current worry. Whether it's nervous tension or a stressful or emotional thoughts my mind still overpowers me sometimes and I find it really hard to concentrate. Spending 6 weeks properly practicing and studying the art of mastering the mind with daily yoga and meditation, I find myself calmer, more settled and less jittery than when I first walked into the Shala at Atmavikasa Centre of Yogic Sciences.
I've never been a morning person, never bounced out of bed and jumped excitedly into the day. Quite the contrary actually. There have been times where I haven't been able to bring myself to even feed myself at regular intervals (if at all) for days on end due to my mindset. Bed was somewhere I hid and slept the day away to avoid life and myself because it was all just too hard to deal with. I always worked long rostered night shifts, sleeping during the day, lazing around and never really having a normal routine because I was such a mess. It has only been since I have started the course and throughout the duration of it that I have truly realised how much I need routine in my life in order to feel grounded, centred, balanced and energetic. Routine is key to a healthy, balanced lifestyle and it will be set in stone for me moving forward if I want to have any chance of keeping this positive momentum.
Time is a virtue, something that we all take for granted. I know I do, often. I don't use it wisely enough and spend it frivolously on things I care not for. That being said I feel that we live in such a fast-paced world these days and it is easy to pick up the habit of impatience. I have learnt here at Atmavikasa to be patient not only with every day things but myself. Change is hard and harrowing and will not happen in a flash. Old habits and patterns die hard and it is only with patience and perseverance that I will be able to slowly choo choo up that hill on the little engine that could.
The meaning of perseverance is "persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success". This idea is new to me, I've always gotten by with natural intelligence, charisma and my looks (not being vain, just honest). Always fallen into things when they come along and never put my mind to something and worked hard for it. Perseverance above all is what I will take away with me. Chip away day by day and constantly put one foot in front of the other no matter what happens. There is no other option for me now.
There have been many moments where I have doubted myself during this training. I know I came into it with higher expectations than is realistic and that has really got me sinking into some crappy thoughts. I was the weakest in the class and it showed. I was completely unprepared physically and knew mentally it would be very hard. I've caught myself every time though and pushed through reminding myself of how far I've come and not to be so hard on myself. Rome wasn't built in a day. If I am to build something amazing I have to demolish the old structure first in order to lay new foundations. I'm only going to be able to achieve this by staying in alignment with my goals and aspirations and believing in myself entirely.
Push Through the Pain
I've come to learn that pain is your friend. It is there to show you your boundaries so that you can cross them. If we didn't know pain we wouldn't know pleasure and it is only in facing pain that I have completely felt a sense of true strength. Sitting with my pain and witnessing it has been fundamentally life changing. By allowing yourself to see it as an observer it somehow seems to begin to dissipate. Pain is a gauge for me to see my limitations, to work through them, not to stop me every time it hurts. I learn something from every type of pain, emotional and physical so I will take away from this that pain is my greatest teacher.
Another reason why I have not been able to achieve anything solid in my life or stick at anything longer than a year. Total lack of self discipline. I would always find a reason to leave any situation, job, relationship, living arrangement etc due to the constant need to run away from my problems. Ones I created on my own, obstacles I put in my own way. My mind has put up a good fight, and to be honest, still is, but how can I expect to change 30 years of negative behaviour and brain chemistry overnight? Which leads me to my last point...
Discipline is Love
My teachers were two of the strongest people I have ever met, Acharya's Venkatesh and Hema. Their strict intensity made us all us students quiver like young school children scared of being sent to the naughty corner. It was their disciplined (yet caring) attitude that I found to be the biggest epiphany for me. Discipline is love. I have always viewed it from how it was shown to me as a form of punishment but now I realise that I couldn't have been more wrong. Acharya Hema especially kicked my butt several times and I thank her for it. Sometimes I would feel as if she saw all of us as her own children with the time and love she gave us. Supporting me and giving me motivation and words that shook me to my core with inspiration in my tough moments allowing me to find the courage to keep going.
In order to love myself completely I am going to have to set solid self discipline principles for myself and be a little harsh in order to be able to break through the barriers of excuses, self destruction and laziness that have in-prisoned me my whole life. Harsh meaning utilising the self discipline, perseverance and patience even when I feel I can't, even when I am exhausted and feel like giving up or giving in. Whenever I feel like throwing the towel in I will remember the moments like those mentioned above and will be ever grateful for my time here at Atmavikasa.