Whole Life Yoga’s advanced yoga teacher training started this past weekend with a three-day retreat, the primary goal of which was build a single, cohesive community out of thirty students from ten prior trainings—some that took place almost a decade ago.
I planned several small group activities, but I consciously decided to leave out the introductory large group circle, in which every person shares information about themselves, their goals, and their challenges to the rest of the group.
Three weeks ago, I had a sudden feeling that omitting the circle was a bad idea. I sent an e-mail out to the students to get their opinion, and they agreed: the activity had to be on the agenda. One person teased that if we did the circle activity, I might give her another crystal.
Now I had a problem.
My circles come with presents, and these students knew it. In the 200-hour training, each person who introduces themselves receives a clear quartz crystal to place on the mat in front of her. The crystal tells us who has already spoken. Even more, it symbolizes my hope for each class member: the clarity of mind promised by persevering yoga practice.
What did I want for this group, and how would I symbolize it?
I already knew these wonderful people from their 200-hour trainings. Some have studying with me for well over a decade; others less than a year. We were about to start another sixteen month journey, much of which wouldn’t be easy. Many of them were already struggling through very tough times. Clarity. Of course I wished them clarity. But I wished them more than that.
I wished them strength.
Strength to overcome internal and external struggles. Strength to face the inevitable challenges that life would throw their way. Strength to overcome their own internal gremlins.
I told my husband to grab his car keys. Destination: Archie McPhees.
I searched through shelves filled with squishy balls, wind up dentures, rubber chickens, and bacon flavored dental floss. I finally found what I needed in a display rack next to rubber horse heads and assorted Halloween costumes. Monster finger puppets. The perfect symbol for the silly, yet powerful, inner demons we all have. The doubts we allow to hold us back.
Sometimes our demons are critical voices inside our head. Sometimes they take the form of exhaustion. Sometimes they feel a whole lot like fear. But in all cases, we give them their power. Yoga promises that if we take the time, do the work, and have the courage to look at them clearly, they will have no more power over us than these silly rubber toys.
My challenge to all of you, teachers-in-training or not, is to look for the inner demon that holds you back. Confront it. Laugh at it. Refuse to let it stop you. Be all that you want to be and more.
Yoga can help.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out my author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!