Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yoga Self-Assessment

We have reached the midterm of our Yoga Teacher Training. We were given the homework assignment of doing a self-assessment. The instructions were vague--it could be a paper, graph, whatever worked. This was the follow-up email after the explanation in class:

Assess where you are in practice using the sutras, Pranayama, Asana, the Yamas and Niyamas. 
  • Where are there holes or weaknesses in disposition or practice?
  • Do you see the value in taking the next step towards balance?
  • Might those steps look like? What tools/practices that we have covered so far?
  • How can you structure them in the next half of the program?
  • Think about some of the journaling, mantra, and meditation techniques as well. 
With this "Self Assessment", consider further transitioning into a Yogi and what are the impediments to that? Assume you are the teacher advising yourself (all based on your understanding so far).  We will all share our findings.

I sat down this morning and spewed this out. Not sure if it's what they wanted, but it's my own, true honest assessment

Nicole M.
March 16, 2011
Midterm Self Assessment
Yoga Teacher Training 200hr
            In August 2010, after years of contemplation and hours of much internal debate, I made what I had hoped to be a life changing decision by enrolling in Yoga Teacher Training. With a hefty down payment, each month, I paid $165 and anxiously waited for January 15, 2011, our first day of classes. I began my journey with the notion that even if I decided to never actually teach yoga, my training as an instructor would only deepen my personal practice, allowing for internal growth. My goal was simple: be a good person and live a dignified life. As I reach the halfway point in my training, it is imperative that I do a self check-in; to assess and continually reassess where my mind and body are leading me through this journey.
            Before I can truly unravel myself and deconstruct how I am utilizing yoga to the best of my ability, I must be honest with my self and others. It was a New Year. I was enthusiastic to start 2011. I exclaimed that 2011 would be all about “self reflection,” and “awareness.” All at once, my world came crumbling down when one week prior to beginning classes, my Mother, age 54 passed away on January 5, 2011. We had a small memorial service for her and I took one month off from my work as an ICU nurse. I struggled with the notion that I would have to spend the next 6 months in deep, self-reflection. With so much pain, but also so much love from my Mother, I knew that I had to do my best. In the beginning of the program, I worked through the weekend intensives in a daze. I was a ghost of my former self. But I showed up and I tried to participate. Often times, we would be sitting in class, deep in discussion, and all I could hear was the self-dialogue, “my Mother is dead, my Mother is dead.”  It felt physically impossible to concentrate; it was at the forefront of all my thoughts; everything I did each day included a backdrop of grief. Usually, I throw myself into whatever I am doing with 100% zeal. With Yoga Teacher training, though? I did not go to classes outside of the weekend intensives. I did not do much reading; and the reading I did do was robotic, no thought or contemplation behind the words. And I certainly was not participating in my own home practice or personal meditation. One month since beginning training and I finally made myself go to a class. It took another 2 weeks before I attended another. I was beginning to feel like a complete failure. Here I am, paying for this program, wasting all of this time and money and not even participating in my own life!  If this is an honest assessment, it has only been in the last two weeks where I feel more awake. I am slowly, but surely, attending classes, developing my own practice, and reading the homework assignments with actual thought, rather than skimming like a computer.
            As for my asana practice, I have made a commitment to myself. Five minutes. That’s it. No pressure. Each day, I set the timer on my phone for 5 minutes and in that short time, I practice yoga. Often times, the practice is longer, but I do 5 minutes each day and for me, that has been a start. Perhaps I am behind. Perhaps others are doing more than me, but this is my practice and I cannot compare my self-assessment to others. That is what I have learned and taken away from my yoga practice and training. I cannot compare myself to others. I have come to accept that my yoga practice is going to change and evolve with life.  Each night, I have been reading a page or two from Meditations from the Mat, a book by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison that offers 365 meditations for each day of the year. The book delves into the 8-limb path of yoga, beginning with the yamas and niyamas.  Day 84 begins with the niyama of svadhyaya, or self-study. It begins, “Each step foreword in our practice is a step inward.” It is also important to note that, “When we do feel lost or uncertain, drifting away from our practice, blocked from our own truth, it helps to remember that darkness and confusion, too, are part of the path,” (118).
            In the last couple of weeks, my sense of enthusiasm and wonderment has returned for yoga. I recognize my own labile, or fluctuating emotions. I am still grieving the loss of my Mother; I always will be! However, I am participating in my own life. And that means participating in Yoga Teacher Training. It is unfortunate that I could not have given 100% at the beginning of the program. My Type-A personality would have loved to write this self-assessment and tell the class and instructors how I have been utilizing the yamas, niyamas, and pranayama for the past 3 months, and how I have read from the yoga sutras each night, and that meditation has completely changed my outlook on life, but it would be a lie. For me, a midterm assessment is not enough. I need a day-to-day assessment. A daily check-in.
            As we begin the second half of our program, I am beginning to think of myself as a yoga teacher. I have yet to teach a class, and even the thought of getting in front of a group of people with all eyes on me is completely anxiety producing, but I will fake it until I make it. Nice to meet you, I’m Nicole, I’ll be your yoga instructor today. Namaste.



Emma said...

Wow Nicole, it's such a beautifully honest self assessment, kudos for figuring things out. You're so right, everything is the path :)

Thank you for sharing with us!

Anonymous said...

Your honesty and self-reflection is all part of your practice, too. You're doing great :) Much peace to you!

Journey_On said...

Thanks for sharing, Nicole. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi. I wanted to thank you for your comment on my guest post on Jenna's blog. :)

Wow what a beautiful and honest reflection. Thank you for sharing!

Robert said...

First words to mind were "beautifully honest." But those before me said it already.

Still, beautifully honest.

Rachel said...

What a beautiful reflection! (I don't remember how I came across your blog-first comment here I think). You motivate me to try and STICK with yoga practice.

Eric said...

That is amazing self-knowledge, Nicole. I'll bet your sick patients and their families are very thankful to have such a centered nurse at their side. Kudos!