by Eileen Pilla
Aside from maybe a 3-second fantasy while admiring someone sinewy in a crazy arm balancing pose with a beautiful ass, I never considered committing to any yoga teacher training. I never thought I’d ever be healthy enough or strong enough or, quite honestly, sane enough to be a genuine yogi let alone a yoga teacher. In my imagination, teachers were people who never got mad and spoke in mellow dulcet tones even when some jerk cut them off or stole a cab they were hailing. And students who were disciplined enough to actually show up to class more than a couple times a week were far more motivated to avoid late nights and hangovers than I could ever be. Nonetheless, for the past decade or so, I find myself always going back to yoga.
Teacher training seemed like a nice idea. But not for me. I had a long list of reasons and excuses not to do it. But the pull to pursue persisted as each training session came and went like a whisper that just kept getting louder until, finally, this spring something screamed, “Now is the time!” I was due for a change.
I’m happy to discover during this training that, for me, this is way more than just exercise or a healthier alternative to boozing my stress away or a luxurious blissing out for a bit now and then. For me, yoga is a ritual where you get to apply and embody a bunch of teachings that get you healthy in your body and your mind and your soul. Taking what you learn on the mat and applying those ideas off the mat are what makes this practice far more valuable than I realized. It’s a lifestyle. And by that I don’t mean suddenly wearing mala beads everyday, becoming a vegetarian, and speaking in mellow dulcet tones when Life happens. I’m pretty certain I will continue to curse, drink wine, and wear heels when I’m in the mood. But having the ability and awareness to breathe and observe oneself without judgment in uncomfortable situations has been a game changer and a life saver.
We’re almost halfway through the training and I’m still tired and sore. I guess I should also mention that I’m a first-time-still-breastfeeding mother of a 20-month-old baby boy and a performing artist and over 40, so making the time seemed daunting at first. But so far, the benefits outweigh the fatigue and pain. What impresses me most about this training is its emphasis on the art of teaching. It is very deliberate in capitalizing on the individual’s experience and perception to create a teaching that has intention and meaning. As an artist, I’m definitely down with that. I now appreciate that asana is more than just holding a posture. It’s also taking a position in the world and having a point of view.
I’ve been a firm believer that we are all born with the capacity to heal ourselves when we’re in balance. We are designed that way. Yoga is a system that gives you the support and tools to achieve that and to be your best, most authentic self. You basically set yourself up to experience life in the best ways possible. And to discover an entire community of fellow humans who subscribe to these practices and ideas is the sweetest icing on the cake. Thank you, Hathavidya.
I honestly have no idea if I will pursue teaching, but I can definitely say without a doubt that I will walk away with a badass personal practice that will carry through and touch every aspect of my life as it already has. Whether I teach or not, there is something undeniably awesome about people coming together to practice. We may all be there for different reasons, but the essence is the same. And if I do end up teaching, you can bet your ass I’ll still be cursing and probably drinking wine. In celebration.