As we enter the final weeks of the teacher training, it is clearly evident that the students are making great progress in their yoga practice. The peak modules of the training—inversions (Adho Mukha Vrksasana, Salamba Sarvangasana, Sirsasana, & Pinca Mayurasana) and back bends (Dhanurasana, Ustrasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana)—are some of the most intensive sessions. Nevertheless, these categories of asana can be very challenging for yoga teachers to instruct. We want to make sure that we have given our students adequate tools and knowledge to work in these poses carefully with acute awareness. I was surprised to look around the room these past two weekends and see so many of my students practicing beautifully and confidentially. It was clear that they had grasped many of the fundamentals and had been strengthening the foundations of their practice over these two months.
In addition, there are now weekly segments of “practice teaching” in preparation for part of the final exam. A useful method for processing information, these practice sessions allow the students to apply teaching techniques, explore hands on adjustments and gain proficiency with their sanksrit. The room is always filled with exuberant chatter as they organize enthusiastically into small groups. I walk around with either Yuri Nakamura or Kosai Kato and make comments, answer questions or give advice.
Slowly, through the patient translation via Yuri or Kosai, we are also beginning to have more in depth dialogue about Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras–inquisitive questions about the “klesas ” (obstacles–avidya, asmita, raja, dvesah, abhinivesa) and the “Eight Limbs” in particular….”should we practice the yamas and niymas before asanas?” ”Ideally, yes I say…but many of us approach yoga at the third limb “asana” and have to work backward and then forward again––It can take us a life-time to work through all eight limbs.” I like that they’re trying to interpret these concepts on their own terms. I tell them that’s the point really, “we should not only attempt to apply the teachings of the Sutras to our practice, but to our lives as well.”