Training Day 1
'How many of you went to dinner together last night?' [show of many hands]
'How many of you didn't go?' [show of 4 hands]
'How many of you didn't know it was happening?' [1 hand]
'Are you on Facebook? No? That's why you didn't know. Yoga business 101, don't do all of your advertising on Facebook.'
Teacher Training Day 1 with Les Leventhal
Coconuts Drunk: 3
Favourite pose: Flopasana (I am really really tired...)
Power Animal: Dolphin
'Elbows to your right knee, inhale right shoulder off the floor, tuck the tailbone, ground the belly; straighten out the left leg; breathe.' Jesus.
Lying in a pool of my own well-deserved sweat in savasana, I remembered why I was here, in Bali, with Les. I had forgotten the full-on emotional journey embodied in a full power Vinyasa class. I was shell-shocked, I had not worked my body so hard in months ('rest in dolphin', what?) and in that 90 minutes I had been broken down and built lovingly back together – piece by exhausted exhilarated piece.
It's not that I had lost my love of Vinyasa, but I confess that was drowning a little – in a yoga environment with so many styles and so many opinions about what is the best, the strongest, the rightest Yoga (Hatha? Yin? Ashtanga?). But that's just it – there is no one way to do these poses. Whatever tradition we align ourselves with on that particular day/lifetime, we're yogis – we're flexible. Or at least we should be.
'Take a vinyasa', a familiar cue to most of us to move, with as much grace as we can muster, from Pose A to Pose B – it is a transition, literally a means of moving from where you are to somewhere else. And I WAS somewhere else. Far from my first training in Ashtanga in Rishikesh, where the day started at 4.30am – sitting on our wooden blocks ready for Pranayama practice. Today started at a much more Ash-friendly time of 8am (SHARP – 'you should be all pee-ed out before then') and with an unfamiliar North American chant sung to the beat of a drum and a reading of native American totem animal cards. Today was the day of the dolphin – the animal of power, balance, breathe, life and love. Swimming, immersing, finding our rhythms in the waves of our practice; noticing the importance of breath as we submerged and found our way back to the surface, breaking the crashing waves before diving back – deeper, stronger. The dolphin is also the messenger of the rainbow spirits, the guide.
At lunch I bought a bandanna. Not only did I rock the hippy chic, but it was necessary. Les: 'Stop fiddling with your hair, because you know what I'll do? I'll put you right back into a pose that will mess it up again'. And I know he would. And not because he is an Anna Forrest trained bad ass (which he is) but because he loves us, each of us – because he is our teacher and our guide in navigating whatever crazy shit gets dragged up in the next month. Of which there will be plenty.
Les's Forrest training shines through his teaching, but coloured also with his unique, ebullient and hilarious personality and flair for creative instruction. He teaches from his own experience – not allowing us to practice anything he hasn't himself felt in his body that day, not wanting to guess but to guide us into the deepest embodiment of that posture that is available to us. And today it might be dolphin, or pincha or pincha in lotus or at one particularly special point a Warrior 4 (child's pose). He also teaches from his huge and awesome heart – and we all got a chance to speak from ours today; each holding the delicately feathered and be-crystalled talking stick, answering the question: 'why did we come here?'.
Holding that (intimidating) stick against my heart, I realised that I had come with the idea of doing this training for my students (who I miss and love!); to be better for them – to be a better teacher, guide, friend but really, I know now, I need this for me – to re-inspire, to explore, to electrify my practice - to put my foot in the air and to really mean to put my foot in the air. It's exciting, and frightening and it's only day 1 – the journey is only just beginning, and this time the script is unwritten.
Missing you as ever yogis :) ash x