Writing this last ‘official’ blog post was more difficult than writing the others. Partly, yes, because life just happens to be really busy for me these days. But I think in large part, I didn’t want to write it. Writing this post, following the last YTT weekend, it marks an ending. It also marks a new beginning, one that I am very proud of, but an ending in the more literal sense: our final weekend together as a group. Sure, we’ll see each other again, that I have no doubt, but the end of our YTT weekends together. To me, these weekends were like oases in the desert. The monthly ritual of getting together, exchanging, growing, learning. On some mornings, I will admit, I did not feel like going… Life goes fast, weekends are short and often filled with to do lists and activities. But, each YTT Saturday came and marked the start of 2 incredible days spent with wonderful people. Each weekend left me with the same sense of peace and replenishment. Every. Single. One. Yes, in my year-long journey, I learned about Ashtanga yoga. I feel confident that I could design and teach some flow classes. I learned a lot about adjusting, teaching, modifying poses, though I also know there is still much to learn. Ultimately though, it’s like the yoga was the excuse. The excuse to learn the rest (which is also yoga, by the way). And I learned OH SO MUCH. So much that I can’t really provide a useful summary here, but I will take a few paragraphs to highlight the teachings that to me, were life-changing.
Lesson 1: We’re all connected, what we put out there matters
I don’t want to sound hokey or new age, I’m a scientist after all. But the thing is, we are connected. The ‘how’ (atoms, energy, life force, whatever you want to call it) is not important. But the result is. You have an impact on others, not only the people closest to you. Be it through your thoughts, your words, your actions – each has an impact. Sometimes small, sometimes huge. So what you think, what you say, what you do matters. The tiniest gesture, maybe done unconsciously, can have a lasting effect on another being, bad or hopefully, more often, good.
Lesson 2: I am worthy of good things and I have to be kinder to myself
Humans can be silly and strange beings, so caught up in comparing, assessing, evaluating. Too often, when these thoughts turn inward, the assessment is harsh and unfair. But the fact is we are all made up of amazing and unique parts as well as parts we wish were different. This journey has taught me to look at these ‘bad’ parts through a different lens. These parts I judge myself harshly on, they’re a part of me no matter what. Some I can probably improve or tweak, but some are just there. I can choose to berate myself about these parts, or I can decide to accept them and move on and to not forget about all the other (awesome) parts of me. And sometimes, with a different perspective, something you thought was bad might end up surprising you and switching categories to ‘hey, this is pretty great actually’. This was the case for me, an aspect of my personality that I always felt insecure about and judged myself harshly on. During this journey, I realized that this piece of my personality is actually what draws people to me, which makes them feel like they can open up and show me who they really are. It’s become one of my favorite parts of me, and one that I feel very proud of now.
Lesson 3: The goal is showing up
Being a yogi is not about getting all the postures right, being physically flexible or looking great in your yoga pants. It’s about daily practice, creating habits, meditating and yes, doing the asana practice (the postures). During this year, I can say that there are only about 10-15 days that I did not do yoga. Sometimes it was 5 sun salutations in the morning, sometimes, 10 cycles of breath in a happy baby at the end of a hard day. Whatever. The point is that I took time (almost) every day. This tells your mind and your soul that you are important, a priority. This teaches your body to crave that movement or that meditation and to seek it out in hard times. I’ve
taught my kids some of the breathing exercises I learned and was pleasantly surprised to see my 6-year-old sitting on his bed, using his breathing to calm down a few weeks ago.
Lesson 4: Gratitude is important and a game changer
We all have our struggles. We all have situations in our lives that are hard. We also all have something(s) to be grateful for. Don’t need to look too deep if you don’t want to: the sun shining outside, birds chirping, running water, a roof over our heads… But you can look deeper too: your health if you’re lucky enough, your family if you have one, your friends. Acknowledging this DAILY is important, and scientific literature shows that gratitude has a positive impact on physical health, mental health and sleep patterns. Careful now, I’m not saying being grateful is a cure to any physical or psychological ailment, but I am saying that any improvement is positive, no matter how small. For me though, the most important lesson was regarding transformation. I joined the YTT looking for transformation. I joined before major changes happened in my life but I think somewhere deep down I knew these changes were coming. I felt uneasy, unhappy. Not sad, not depressed… More than I was stagnant, letting life happen around me but not really moving. I wanted this YTT to kick me in the butt and kick start changes in me. At some point, pretty late in the game, it dawned on me that I wasn’t changing into someone else but that after taking all this time to *really* learn who I am, I actually like that person. A lot. Flaws, quirks and all. That is the most important and life-changing tool I leave this journey with. Knowing who I am, accepting all parts of who I am, recognizing my strengths and weaknesses.
I can’t begin to tell you how freeing this has been for me. It’s helped my confidence and has changed what I put out there and how I interact with others. The YTT, the group that was brought together, the fearless leaders that are Rozel and Melissa, the community around the studio – all these elements created the perfect storm to completely turn my world upside down, shake out everything that was weighing me down, holding me back and drop me gently back right side up but not quite the same. I end this journey changed. Not a different person, I’m still me, just fine-tuned, more open, more relaxed and yes, happier. I can’t say whether this exact same shift would have occurred had I not been in the YTT THIS specific year while my world seemed to be crumbling around me. But looking around me on that last weekend, listening to my tribe talks about the shifts they experienced, the changes they noticed in themselves… I’d say yeah, it’s likely.
If you’re reading this, wondering whether you should join the YTT at Energie EnCorps (you should!) here are a few parting words that may help you out:
Yoga is magic Y’all. It is about so much more than bending your body into strange shapes. You can get glimpses of this ‘more’ I’m talking about in some classes, in some books perhaps, but nowhere better than surrounded with love and acceptance with 20ish people who will challenge you, embrace you and become your fiercest cheerleaders. I have gained so much this year. I will never be able to express in words what this year and these amazing people did for me. And also, what I did for me. I’m damn proud of that too.
Nadine is the 2018 winner of Energie EnCorps YTT #WhyIamWorthIt Scholarship,who will be blogging on her Yoga Teacher Training experience over the course of the year. Follow her journey. Celebrate with her in her a-ha moments, relate to her struggles and learn how the philosophy of yoga can be brought into your own life. Thank you so much to Nadine for letting us all into your mind this year. Learn more about the Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training and Mentorship programs at Energie Encorps West Island, an internationally recognized Yoga Alliance School, click here: http://bit.ly/2ASHwg5 Interested? Follow Nadine Dumas on Instagram!