The time during my yoga teacher training was surreal. Each morning began with the sunrise. I would enjoy the picturesque walk down to the Rainbow Room in that still silence that comes only at dawn. Dew would moisten my feet and the friendly Kalani cats would greet me with their meows as I took in the view and prepared for mediation. Although initially intimidated by the thought of mediation for more than a few minutes at a time, I quickly learned that I was not alone in my concern and realized that the path to pure zen during mediation is not something that should happen overnight. Some mornings, I would connect immediately with my body and breath, time would pass by and before I knew it the chime would be calling me back to reality. As with others in my class however, there were days when meditation was spent battling between scratching that itch on your leg, wanting to check the time, and thinking about whether or not you hung up that last shirt. In time, however, I learned to accept my thoughts, however they came, and let go of any judgement associated with them. Instead of beating myself up for my busy mind, I just let it go as my meditation experience for that day and celebrated the fact that I had taken the time to incorporate it, however it may have been.
The yoga practice itself had been another area of concern for me. Although I have practiced yoga for some time, I assumed that anyone on this type of journey would be an experienced yogi and worried that I might be in way over my head. Like my fears about meditation, however, my worries turned out to be needless. Our class was filled with a full spectrum of levels. There were students who had been practicing for a lifetime, students who had already been teaching, and others, who had primarily practiced at home or were just beginning their yoga journeys. The atmosphere in our class was entirely non-judgmental and accepting. In fact, it had been a joke among our group that we could likely walk into the class and practice yoga in our underwear and no one would bat an eye. Every student was on their own personal journey and came from their own unique background. Our instructors Liz Heffernan and Molly Masaoka emphasized every day that each student’s practice is personal and unique to them; while some students could fold in half, and others only a few inches, each was experiencing all of the benefits of what yoga has to offer, for their body, on their journey.
It took only one day for all of my worries to be erased. I had left for this retreat entirely on my own, but in just a few days I felt more connected than I had ever been with any group in my life. It was wonderful to be deepening my own practice and connection with myself, while at the same time forming bonds with others that I had never thought possible. During our first day in yoga teacher training, Liz and Molly taught us about looking at everyone with, “eyes of love”, and whether it was this teaching, or the ongoing cultivation of an attitude of acceptance, each student took the words to heart. Regardless of the day, the moods, or the feedback, each of us looked at one another with eyes of love and the feeling has resonated to the point that it lasts even as a look back on the experience today.