Yoga Teacher Training Day 11: Do the Twists!

Well, here we are at my fifth weekend of YTT already. It’s all going by so fast, and I’m still enjoying it immensely! This weekend we focused on our abdominal core, as well as forward folds and twists. Saturday was largely dedicated to talking about the metaphysical qualities of the core and twisting postures.

What Ignites Your Passion?

Intention card
This weekend’s intention card.

The abdominal core is pretty commonly associated with the solar plexus, or Manupura, chakra. This chakra is the seat of our personal willpower and our “I Am-ness”, as our teacher trainer said throughout the weekend.

In connection with our solar plexus chakra, we talked about The Four Cs of our practice and our teaching: Connection, Compassion, Confidence, Commitment. We connect with ourselves and with our students in order to be the most effective teachers, both for ourselves and for others. In extending our compassion, not just to others, but also to ourselves, we assist in building those connections and relationships. Having confidence, we trust that we have all we need in order to teach or to be good students. Finally, we commit to our practice and our teaching, finding a kind of freedom in our discipline.

That last statement probably sounds strange on its face. We often equate discipline with punishment. So, freedom through discipline seems counter-intuitive. When we talk about discipline in this sense, we’re talking about building habits and training ourselves in a controlled, well-thought out manner. As we channel our efforts in a constructive way, we find greater ease in our learning. We find progress, rather than stalling out in frustration. We achieve freedom from chaos and ignorance.

Om Nama Shivaya – “I am that I am”

Our mantra for the solar plexus was, “Om nama shivaya”, which can translate into, “I am that I am”. Since our solar plexus is associated with “I Am-ness”, this is a perfect mantra for that focus.

We talked for a bit about the benefits of mediation. One of my fellow students shared a quote from Edgar Cayce. He says in mediation,  we must first go through “the pouring out” of our negative emotions and self-defeating thoughts before we can reach a more blissful state. It’s a reassuring thought, if simultaneously a little scary. How often have we tried to mediate, only to focus on our physical discomfort or that earlier fight with a friend? We catch ourselves, and then we feel bad for not meditating “the right way” and we give up. In reality, these thoughts are a natural part of the process. We should embrace them for what they are, and then move on with our practice.

The benefits to mediation are varied, and they can be unique from person to person. Perhaps you find meditation to be a pathway to personal peace. Maybe you are just looking to find respite from daily stress, or to drain away anger. Mediation can even boost personal self-worth and confidence. We can find our way to that center, our “I Am-ness”, and find a way to amplify it for its greatest good.

Do the Twists!

We had what felt like a more leisurely pace this weekend, and we got to do extended morning practices both days. On Saturday, we focused on twisting postures. We worked through several twists, starting on the floor with our reclined twists. Reclined twists are generally the easiest to do since we have the greatest opportunity for spinal stability. With our backs on the ground, we can worry less about the effects of gravity on our spines.

We moved to standing twists, some of which can be quite complicated. For instance, we did revolved triangle. This isn’t a pose I do very often, either at home or in classes. It was good to be able to get into these more complicated poses. It gave me an opportunity to begin to feel them out and how I might use my own experience with the pose to guide students through it in the future.

We ended with seated twists, which can be the most difficult for some. This is because there is less freedom of movement in the pelvis and legs. While the effects of gravity are reduced in seated twists, it is still an issue to consider. Those two issues coupled together are what make seated twists more difficult. Again, exploring how I felt in these postures was a helpful exercise towards future instruction.

Discussion and Group Work

The afternoon session consisted of discussion and group work related to twisting its relationship with the abdominal core. We spent time with a partner working through some different twisting poses and talking about them. We exchanged our ideas for cues that worked for us and didn’t, and how we might better use that experience to guide future students. My partner and I chose to continue our exploration of revolved triangle, since neither of us practice it often. Our teacher trainer came over and offered more great tips to help us explore the pose through the lens of future instruction.

Twist sequence
My group’s twist-focused sequence.

 

We closed out the day with a group activity of assembling a twist sequence we might use as a part of a larger class. We had pages of photos with different twisting poses, as well as some neutralizing and counterposes. From those sheets, we selected a handful of poses to cut out and paste together as a sequence. I found this exercise to be especially helpful in learning to construct a class. Having a visual representation of poses to choose from and piece together made it much easier to physically see how the poses would flow and fit together. It’s a technique I plan to utilize a lot in the future.

With that, we wrapped up for the day! Next week I’ll be back with the second day of this weekend, where the focus is on forward folds. As always, thanks for reading!

 

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