The Apprentice

I finally started my apprenticeship this week. On Monday we had our first meeting with our mentor, and she shared what was expected of us over the next six months. We have to assist one class a week, take one of her classes each week and then take 34 additional classes over the course of the program. Even though I don’t have the same amount of homework I had in the 200-hour program, I feel like our assignments now are going to really define who we want to be as teachers. Plus, we have a final project—we have to come up with a program that we’d like to teach and present it to all of the mentor teachers at the end of the program. No pressure!

One of first assignments is to establish a home practice, which naturally, I’ve already been struggling to do. We are also required to journal our way through the program, which shouldn’t be a problem for me, but I’m afraid it’s going to end up being an inventory of what I think my failures as a teacher are. I’m not the strongest yogi in our group—I can’t do arm balances and I struggle with Urdhva Dhanurasana—and after assisting last night I’ve come to the conclusion that I must have a really ugly, ungraceful practice.

I was the first in our group to assist, and last night was my first class. I was excited and a little overwhelmed when I walked into the studio, but I gradually started to relax. Not much was required of me that first time—but it was still scary. When I was doing my 200-hour program I observed a beginner’s class and a lot of the students looked how I feel when I practice—clunky, unsure and a little wobbly. I’m assisting a Level 2 class, and most of the students are pretty serious and have extremely strong practices. I was blown away by a few of them because they are so graceful and watching them flow through was like watching a dance. I’m jealous of their Chatarungas. I immediately got insecure about my abilities as a teacher because I guess I still feel insecure as a student.

Over time that may change. I hope it changes, but I’m still excited about this because I know it will eventually make me a better student and hopefully a good teacher. At the very least, I may establish a home practice after all.

 

The Post In Which I Freak Out

One week from today I will be done with my teacher training program.

But there’s a shit ton that needs to happen between now and then.

Over the course of the 6-month program we’ve had to take 18 additional classes by specific instructors. We were given a list of approved 200-hour instructors who could sign off our classes, which were also specifically prescribed (Level 1, Iyengar, etc.). When we started, 18 classes over six months seemed like a piece of cake. However, in my last couple of weeks I found myself chasing classes all over the city to get them signed off. Today I went to a YogaWorks down in the Hollywood area to pick up a Level 1/2 class, which was absolutely worth the drive because the teacher is a thousands kinds of awesome (I’m turning into a yoga teacher groupie). Today’s signature leaves me with one last class to get signed off before Saturday. Theoretically it shouldn’t be that hard to pick up, but work is so insane lately that getting off on time and driving to a studio, whether it’s 5 miles away or 30 is a challenge.

On top of that, I have ridiculously challenging take-home exam. I’ve spend most of this weekend working on it (when I wasn’t chasing classes that is). Aside from the usual anatomy and asana questions, there are crazy essays about some of the philosophy we covered, which isn’t my strong suit. There are also teaching scripts for asanas. We also have to choose one of two options for sequences, which would be challenging enough, but they also expect us to justify the poses we put in (I’m guessing writing “because it feels good” isn’t really what they’re looking for).

That’s in addition to studying for the in-class exam as well as preparing to teach. And, oh yeah, I have to write my yoga résumé.

The most frightening thing is that I’m second-guessing everything. If I know an answer right away on the take-home, I automatically assume it must be a trick question because it couldn’t be that simple or I couldn’t be that smart.

The word overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel. I’m panicking about not having enough hours in the week to get it all done.

This program has challenged me in ways I never could have imagined when I started. I now realize I’m stronger—physically and mentally—than I give myself credit for. It’s made me focus, get organized and really slow down and be present in the moment.

And now this is the ultimate test.

Think good thoughts for me!

 

Home. Work.

When I started this program my biggest concern was the amount of homework I’d have to do. It’s been years since I’ve taken a class and my study skills are a little rusty. Plus, having a full-time job with unpredictable hours adds another layer of challenge. Bill was super encouraging and really thought I should do it, and he promised to give me space to study and said he’d help me out with the dogs and the house.

So I did it. I signed up.

I’m doing the teacher training program through YogaWorks and they have a very regimented program. Before it started I was sent a list of books to buy, and the first day of class they handed out five manuals that cover everything from asanas to anatomy to philosophy. They will be more valuable than gold when I start to teach. But in the meantime, I have to slog my way through the assignments each week.

Before Saturday morning I have to read a couple of chapters in one of the anatomy books, there’s a reading assignment in the anatomy manual, a few chapters of philosophy, a few articles about teaching and two written assignments.

It’s a little more stressful than usual. Normally, class is every other weekend, but for some reason we start two weekends in a row, which means less time for homework.

I admit it—I procrastinated a bit. I didn’t do anything Monday night because I was so fried from the weekend. So last night I thought I’d tackle the anatomy stuff. Bill offered to go to the grocery store for me and I swooned with love. While he was gone I settled onto the bed, spread out my books, set up my laptop and got to work.

Barely a minute later, Bill walked into the house with the grocery bags and told me that he needed my help.

Sigh.

You have three bags of groceries and you need help? He had already brought them into the house, so I wasn’t sure what the problem was. Is it possible that he really doesn’t know where anything goes in the kitchen? Can’t be. It’s not like he never goes to the store. But he was harried and adamant. So I got up,  went into the kitchen and helped put stuff away.

I was still trying to be grateful for his help when I went back into the bedroom to start reading.

Bill followed me in—noting all the books strewn across the bed—and started belching loudly.

Apparently, because I returned to school, Bill decided to behave like he lives in a frat house.

I sighed. Loudly.

“Sorry. Am I bugging you?” he asked.

Duh.

I just smiled and tried to focus. You know, practicing being Zen.

“So…you’re studying in here?” he asked dubiously. “Because I’m going to bed soon.”

It was 8:15 p.m.

I was no longer swooning with love. I was irritated and wanted to rip his head off.

I figured I had until at least 10 o’clock, but after he changed clothes, he climbed into bed, lifting the covers, tossing my books all over the bed. The TV went on and he immediately sought out the most obnoxious fucking thing he could find on TV. I call it Gladiator Porn. It’s really called “Spartacus.”

Are you fucking kidding me? I almost screamed at him. How could you be so dense?

I held my tongue, but he sensed my agitation as I gathered up my shit and moved into another room. I could still hear the damn TV blasting fight scenes, but it didn’t seem to phase him because he can sleep to that stuff. I closed the door to the den and settled in with the dogs to study for the next three hours.

I get it—he didn’t sign up for this. I did. He’s not really such a shmuck, either—he’s dealing with a lot of stress right now and it’s all rapidly coming to a head, so I’m trying to be patient.

We’re going to have to make a few adjustments and work out a system. I need to establish a place to study and he has to respect it and my time.

I suspect it’s going to be a rocky six months.