There’s one question that I always ask at the beginning of our teacher training courses. What’s your why? What I mean is, after your first yoga class, what brought you back again and again, and what keeps you coming back still after all this time? During our courses, this question leads to an understanding of who the students want to be as teachers, but it’s also a valuable point of reflection for us as yoga practitioners too.
I want you to remember back to your first yoga class ever. Where was it? Who did you go with? If you can remember, what style was it? Most importantly, how did you feel afterwards? If you got hooked right away, I’m willing to bet you felt pretty amazing after that class. At the very least, you recognized that there was something in the practice that was beneficial for you. That led you to continuing your exploration of yoga, and a gentle yet steady progression into a more consistent practice.
I definitely did not get hooked after my first yoga class. I was kind of tricked into going, so I wasn’t a fully willing participant. It was in a small room in Phuket that was heated up with several rice cookers to replicate a hot yoga class. Afterwards, we went out front and drank a few beers. “Detox, retox”, the teacher said (side note – yes, the teacher had a serious drinking problem, and no, this is not an intelligent philosophy or hydration strategy). I didn’t go back to another yoga class until a year and a half later at a gym. I went a few times, but I wasn’t ready yet to seriously pick up a practice. My time was coming another year and a half later.
I discovered my why when I was at a meditation retreat in Southern Thailand, and yoga was incorporated into the retreat. Movement and stretching felt like plunging into a cold pool on a hot day. I also realized that asana was simply another place I could practice mindfulness. With these newly gained insights, I was finally ready to step fully into the practice of yoga.
Whether you’re thinking of joining a training or not, I encourage you to ask yourself, what exactly is it about the practice that you enjoy, or that you find beneficial? How do you feel during and after your practice? How has your practice changed your life, in small ways or big? When we gain clarity around these questions, it helps to direct our energy and focus towards those practices which give us the most benefit, make us feel whole, and help us to achieve our goals. I hope that this post has spurred you to examine or reexamine your practice, and to move you into a deeper understanding of your relationship to your practice.