How clearly I remember going through these stages when I started. It’s been 12 years now and I still consider myself a beginner. Since then I had many friends report the same thoughts and I heard many students say these sentences as well. I’m happy to share about my process and I hope my story make you smile. Perhaps you just need to hear: you are not alone.
1. Compare. "Here I come, walking into a Yoga class. I have a certain image of myself, based on my history of activities and body awareness. Perhaps I’m an athlete. Or a dander. Or a mom returning to motion after giving birth. I might have chronic back pain and I hope some pain relief. We all come with a story. The class starts and I see a whole bunch of other people, some look like me, some not at all… why is that 60 year old lady so bendy? Why is this 12 year old boy so disciplined? How come I can not do half of what is happening here? Oh lord! I should look like that… I should be more calm! I should breathe deeper!
Who can relate to this train of thoughts? I can for sure. I remember them.
Yoga is a diagnostic tool.
2. Compete. A few more classes later. "Now I know what is awaiting of me on that “torture carpet of a 2 feet by 6 feet” some people call Yoga mat. Here I come world! Check me out! Will anyone stop me and my determination? Never! Look at me now, you bendy man of 65!!! Who said I can’t make myself into a pretzel? I will show you all!!! Perhaps tomorrow I will wear my superman yoga top too…"
Here is some news for my competing old self: No-one in your Yoga class cares about your performance. They are all busy thinking the same things you are. Plus, stop the pushing. You might hurt yourself.
3. Judge. "OK, I get it. You are busy stretching, breathing, surviving, focusing, blah blah… I should do the same. But wait a minute. If it’s not a team sport why are we doing this together? If there are no scores, prizes and handshakes at the end why does it matter if I even show up? I guess people around me are just selfish, self absorbed? Am I selfish for taking time away from my kids? Perhaps this teacher doesn't do her/his job well enough? Should we not ALL be better by now? How long is this going to take? I bet Yoga is not even for me… they keep getting better, I’am not :(
Judgements and labels are obstacles of your own improvement. Leave them at home or outside with your shoes. Here is a new mantra instead: Today, I am perfect. Just for stepping on my mat. Let me see what happens.
4. High expectations.
"In the world of quick fix fitness programs and diet pills, why the hell is this thing called Yoga takes years to master? I’ve been practicing for 4, 5, 6 years now… Still I have some pain? Still my digestive system needs help? Still I’m not a perfect being floating on this magic carpet? Why can I not keep a regular schedule for my practice? Here I come… I will practice for 60 days in a row..and then… nothing :( "
Hear me out old friend: You are still a beginner. (Might stay that way for this whole life). It’s OK. Get your calendar, schedule your classes and show up. Make your plan sustainable, easier then you like. Keep showing up. One class at a time. The rest is just the matter of time.
5. Hold our breath.
We hold our breath for something great to arrive. We hold our breath to process the pressure of the world. We are just trying to survive. We don't breathe when we are confused, sad or anxious. We hold our breath literally and figuratively.
This should be listed as mistake #1, but I left it to the end. If I had a magic wand to turn my own voice into a whisper and send it back in time for myself, this is what the voice would say: "Are you breathing right now dear one?”
On this journey I am with you and therefore I am grateful.
Campbell River BC Canada
June 5. 2017
The five stages of our evolution.
Written by Orsi Foldesi, based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and An introduction to Yoga by Annie Besant, 1907
Have you ever looked into a child’s eyes and felt you are lost in ancient times?
Do you ever wonder why and how are we different in age? I’m sure you heard the term “old soul” so many times, but what does that really mean? How old? Why older then others? ..and if there are old souls perhaps there are young ones as well? How can we tell who is young or old?
How come that some people are completely unable to do some things and others seem to have a certain talent from their birth?
If you are deeply involved of the path of Yoga, perhaps you wonder: How come it is so easy for some people to stay dedicated and devoted, but others struggle with the simple task of sitting still? One may step on the mat and never leaves, others swing on and off the path for their whole life.
I have come across the following explanation in the Yoga Sutras a while back. As I heard once: there is no question in life this book could not answer. But my understanding finally crystallized when I read Annie Besant’s “An introduction to Yoga”. Annie was a member of the Theosophical Society, who visited India for extended time periods at the end of the 19th century. She delivered her message about the method of Yoga in 1907, during a conference in Benares. Her lectures were later transformed into this little book. Her intention to explain the stages of the evolution of the soul was to offer a tool for self awareness, to all who desire to walk the path of Yoga.
She said: “..by study of ones own mind we can find out how far we are ready to begin the definite practice of Yoga. Examine your own mind to recognize these stages in yourself. If you are either of the two early stages, you are not ready for Yoga. But if you find yourself possessed by a single though, you are nearly ready, as this stage leads to the next stage, the one-pointedness, where you will chose the idea and cling to it at your own will. Short is the state that leads from here to the complete control of the mind, where we can inhabit all the mind’s motions, which then leads easily to Samadhi.”
This article serves all who desire to reach the final goal of Yoga: liberation.
The journey to get there might take thousands of lifetimes, but it doesn't have to. For those walking the eight limbed path of Patanjali, the process seems to speed up and gradually become smoother. Not easier! Just less volatile. Filled with awareness and self responsibility, more conscious choices, less noise and more contemplation.
This explanation assumes that the aspirant already understands that one’s soul is the undying particle of the whole. That one’s spirit, or manifested “traveller” is always present, with short breaks, while recharging on the other side of life. Always aware, ever living, but in different shapes, forms and bodies.
Now let us learn about how exactly this evolution takes place.
Understanding offers compassion. Who can be mad at a child or a teen? By knowing where we are on this journey we can also become more able to improve and grow. Together. Patience towards ourselves and others will change the way we look at this amazing world. I believe that. I wish you all the benefits this path offered me so far and more.
On this journey I am with you, and therefore I am grateful.
Orsi Foldesi April 2017 www.flowyogastudio.ca
The 8 easy steps of our trade
I became a yoga teacher out of necessity. The studio where I used to practice did not have enough teachers. The owner suggested I should go and become one. I was already a dedicated Practitioner, I knew I will keep practicing for the rest of my life. But teaching is a different can of worms.
I wanted to be taken seriously. I yearned to become a professional, in a professional world, like a physiotherapist or chiropractor. I knew from experience that Yoga offers similar benefits, since then I know it offers even more. But how can I put myself on the map beside these people who study for 4-6 years, when the most “complete” Yoga teacher training takes minimum 2 weeks, but the maximum of two months?
After a few months of research I started to feel more and more confused about the different teacher trainings. Which one is more complete? Which branch of this amazing tree is closer to the roots?
Since then I understand more about our trade. The different levels it offers, the ups and downs of the journey and I know that I have a lot more to learn. I still have many questions on my mind, some are slowly clarified. For example:
Wouldn’t that be amazing if Yoga teachers were also educated more? If we had some sort of professional forum? A University perhaps? Where senior teachers are able (and willing) to share their experience for the benefit of all?
I dream of a future where all of this comes true. Schools of Yoga blossom, we enter them at a certain age, and leave as completely confident and dedicated teachers.
I am now a director and owner of a Yoga School. Although in my school I choose not to certify teachers, I am mentoring many young enthusiasts, who are willing to learn.
This is where I’ve been recently faced with a serious dilemma:
This week I received three job applications and posted no position at all. Wow, what do I do now? How do other studio owners deal with the overflow? I wholeheartedly wish to tell you, dear new colleagues the whole truth. This article is my response to all who applied, I wish someone told me this 11 years ago.
I hope it is helpful and I truly hope it will start some discussion. It is timely and necessary I feel.
How to really become a Yoga teacher in 2017 in North America.
The 8 easy steps:
There is a good chance, that as a result of this hard work we might find a circle of people some day in the future who will choose us to be their teacher. I mean… in the long term. Not just for a course or two. Because it is true: this world needs Yoga more then ever.
In my imaginary, ideal future every school, every sport team, office building, retirement home and company hires their own professional Yoga teachers. There can never be enough of us, we are never too many.
If we wish to become professionals we shall start raising our own bar. The 200 hours of training is not enough. In the meantime I would like to ponder on this question just one more time: How much ( and why) do we want to become a Yoga teacher?
On this journey I am with you and therefore I am grateful.
Tamas, Raja and Sattva. The three levels of energy.
In the Book of Yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, we find clear instructions on the path of Yoga, the way out of suffering, each step guiding us towards self realization. Patanjali explains about 3 levels of the pool of energy we exist in, at all times:
Just like three different radio stations can project three different programs at the same time, without distracting each other’s wavelength, three different people can perceive the same situation or message completely differently, based on their own ability to receive and their own levels of energy.
From Tamas towards Sattva the vibrations increase, become more subtle and fine.
Tamas is muddy, thick, reactive, dense, dark, like the sound of the bass guitar or drums. Tribal. Survival. Intense on the physical level. It feels very real and often painful, tight in our body.
Raja is vibrant, passionate, flavourful, impulsive, exciting, sensual. Intense on the emotional level. It feels very real in our senses. Like the sound of a Spanish guitar.
Sattva is refined, gentle, quiet, subtle and smooth. Intense on the spiritual level. It feels very real in our soul. Sounds like the harp, and chimes.
The goal of yoga practice is to reach and maintain the level of Sattva, where we recognize our true essential nature. According to the Rishis, everything that ever existed manifests on one of these three levels.
A dinner for example can be tamasic (to serve our survival, fill our stomachs. We eat it for instant gratification, without thinking too much about it. Like a fast food burger, or a piece of toast in the morning.)
A dinner can also be rajasic (a beautifully presented, nourishing meal, full of tastes and spices, to satisfy our senses and to maintain survival.)
A sattvic dinner would be a very small portion of something highly nutritious, perhaps still carrying abundant life energy, such as raw food, or something juicy and fulfilling for the soul. It is still flavourful, assures our survival and also increases our vibration.
Just like food, everything else manifests through these 3 layers. Friends, words, thoughts, relationships. You always know what level they are, when you listen to the barometer of your own body. How do you feel when you eat this, hear that, meet her, think that?
Most people live their life in the state of Tamas. Sluggish, reactive, impulsive, emotional. Or sometimes reach as high as Raja, and feel passionate, excited, joyous, high and low, satisfied, or needy. (is fact most people mistake some aspects of this level of energy with “happiness” )
In a Sattvic energetic state every experience is hightened and intensified. We are completely present, our body feels light and pain free. Our mind is still functioning, but not “in charge” of our reactions, our pace, our words, or our stillness. We absorb this amazing reality we choose to live in, and take full responsibility for it. Doing so, we become conscious creators of our life. In the state of Sattva. Some day, after healing your body and mind with regular practice, that is what you will find in Savasana at the end of class. Stay walking the path.
On this journey I’m with you and therefore I’m grateful.
Flow Yoga School
An article published on Do you Yoga. com. The title speaks for itself. Practical advice for beginners.
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This article is being featured on Elephant Journal. Yay. :) According to our copyright agreement please click on this link to read it. www.elephantjournal.com/2016/11/what-happens-when-a-teacher-brings-her-tears-to-the-yoga-mat/
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