Shared by Danja Yoga Co-Owner & Lead Teacher Training Facilitator, Daniel Sernicola, with written reflections by our Yoga Teacher Training students.
The following is the second of five short essays written by our Danja Yoga Teacher Training students. These students are in the middle of a 200-hr training that began in September 2021. They graduate in June 2022. Covid-19 has changed much about the yoga world. There’s been opportunities along with set backs for our students.
The words of our teacher trainees share both vulnerability and the realness of this situation, and how practices of yoga and mindfulness can really be an antidote for the pandemic at hand. I feel hopeful to have these teachers emerging into the world at a time where self-care, wellness, and mindful teachings are very needed. – Daniel Sernicola
How is yoga influencing your time during the COVID-19 pandemic?
What are you learning about yourself during this time?
How can we use the Danja Yoga 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training to be of service to our communities and the world right now?
Yoga is about changing our perspective on discomfort to allow growth. There are plenty of opportunities to practice this through active vinyasas, balancing poses and strength building practices, holding deep stretches, and learning to sit with whatever comes up during meditation. We learn to welcome these types of discomfort to grow in our practice, which in turn decreases the discomfort. The welcoming of discomfort and challenges allows us to make more space and open ourselves up to growth not only on the mat, but in all parts of life.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I started ramping up my yoga practice for a sense of grounding amidst the uncertainty. I wish I could say I stayed consistent in that. The pandemic has been a very challenging time to be a human. Faced with isolation, collective grief and anxiety, and the disappearance of many semblances of \”normalcy,\” in spring of 2020 I found myself less motivated and falling into patterns of dwelling more on the ways I was limited than things I still could do in isolation. My yoga practice experienced many shifts alongside our rapidly changing society: from trying online practices, to outdoor practices, to month long savasanas on the couch, to masked practices, and then eventually deciding in 2021 I wanted to get serious about starting a 200 hour yoga teacher program.
Besides looking different, my yoga practice during the pandemic has carried a number of intentions as well. Some days my time on the mat has been used as an escape, to \”turn off\” my mind and just move. Other days the intentions include grounding, to build energy, to release stress, or to nurture and connect with myself after a day of supporting others. A number of times in the last couple of years, I’ve found myself setting a seemingly simple intention of \”be here now.\” I set this intention to remind myself to be present in that exact moment, rather than get lost in past events that can\’t be undone or worries about the future, and just to allow myself to exist and fully experience this moment as it is. There\’s usually a lot less to be overwhelmed about in the experience of one moment at a time, and that mindful presence allows more opportunities for learning about ourselves and our patterns, too. As new challenges come up in my life, I still initially find myself trying to avoid the discomfort or dwelling on the ways I\’m limited by the challenge. But yoga and meditation have given me a foundation for being able to recognize those patterns and work on changing my perspective to learn and grow mindfully through the discomfort.
I had known for a few years that I wanted to do a yoga teacher training program and be able to share yoga with others, but I had struggled with the idea of knowing when I was \”ready\” to commit to this journey. 2020 and 2021 certainly provided many valid reasons to feel like it was not the right time, from the world at large feeling uncertain, to social distancing, to more personal struggles with physical pain, depression, and burnout. I didn\’t see it at the time, but my body was pleading for movement in a lot of different ways: movement away from some parts of my life, movement out of my comfort zone, and movement to bring me closer to my values and goals. What I did become increasingly aware of in 2021 was that waiting for change wasn\’t working for me. 2021 was a year I HAD to prioritize self-care, growth, and community. Not just the bubble baths and candles type of self-care (though I did that too), but quite a bit of uncomfortable self-care. 2021 for me was a year of reaching out for help in different ways than I had before, being vulnerable, letting go of things that were no longer serving me, making some scary leaps into the unknown, setting boundaries, drawing closer to the people and things that I love, learning about myself, and recognizing there might never be a \”perfect time\” to start new goals, so I may as well go for it now.
As time has gone on, my yoga practice has also helped me to feel more connected and less isolated, both in the sense of connecting to a community of local yogis and connecting to thousands of years worth of yogic traditions and philosophies. Life will continue to have it’s challenges, but I am so grateful for the support of this community and a practice that supports my growth. Being in Danja\’s teacher training program has given me many new opportunities to grow and continue learning about myself and the practice of yoga in a holistic way. I am a firm believer that we are never done growing and learning, and so I know that this process of changing my patterns will extend far beyond my training. When I think about becoming a yoga teacher, it excites me to be able to welcome more yogis to the community and share with them the joy, growth-inducing discomfort, restoration, and connection that yoga has to offer through life’s many changes.
Lisa Franklin (she/her)