I returned home on Monday 9/19 from the start of my 500-hour yoga teacher training with Dharma Mittra in NYC. The entire week up in NYC at The Dharma Yoga Center was amazing! In a short 8+ day period with Dharma and his fabulous (ego-less) teachers, things have already shifted for me in a way I can’t fully explain.
Even more exciting is realizing the 8 days I just concluded in NYC were just the beginning of the training which might explain why the song title “We’ve Only Just Begun” keeps singing through my head. As a child in the 70’s, my Mom played this Carpenters’ song plenty but I honestly haven’t thought of it until I returned home and realized my new endeavor/advanced teacher training is just now officially starting.
Let me start my saying that being in Dharma’s environment for 8 days was intense; yet I now consider it a vacation compared to what I have committed myself to the next 60 days. On our last day up there we were given very detailed plans to follow each day until we return there mid November. The plans include things like: Every morning wake-up earlier than usual (ideally before 6am) to do Pranayama and Meditation. Currently this takes about 35 minutes/morning, though I will build up to and maintain 60 minutes within the next couple of weeks. Then over hot water with lemon, I review my personal Yama plan for the day (Ahimsa and Satya currently) and complete a Japa OM worksheet with a chant. The daily Asana component is a set Dharma Mittra sequence that takes about 60-75 minutes. And believe it or not, these few rituals seem relatively easy and adaptable compared to the diet restrictions/limitations I must obey (the diet details I will save for another time.)
To some, it sounds crazy I know. I already have had a few eyes roll and heads shake. The daily regimen along with the diet appear to many as boredom. Yet I know from a yogic perspective all of this “home training” is partly about practicing Tapas —burning off the impurities & creating discipline. It’s also about Pratyahara —controlling the senses to calm the mind. I also know the training is about fully immersing myself into all 8-limbs of Astanga yoga (as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras) in a way that meshes with my daily life as a “householder”. The practices will make my meditation sittings more effective. Ultimately, the guidelines of the plans and diet will open me up to discovering a new way of being (i.e. more sattvic/balanced) in my day-to-day life as I begin to eliminate obstacles/impurities in my body, mind and life. After all the training is titled “The Life of a Yogi”.
There are a couple cool parts to all of the above —such as I have directions. Yes, I know exactly what I need to do each morning, what to eat throughout the day, how long to meditate and even what time I should be in bed every night. In some ways these demands keep life very simple. In a way, they help me weed out some of the clutter in my life. For instance, when I go to the grocery store my shopping list is already made for me thanks to Dharma. When I unroll my yoga mat, I know exactly what I need to do. Less thinking is required so that more “being” (aka living) can take place.
The other cool piece to all this…knowing I’m not totally alone on this journey. As I type this, there are 30+ other Dharma yogis all around the world right now following the same plan I am currently so I know I’m not flying solo. Hmm…this very well could explain the tune that keeps ringing in my head: We’ve Only Just Begun…