What no one tells you about the come down from Yoga Teacher Training abroad…
Like many yogis, I desired a deeper practice and wanted to learn more about yoga. I also wanted to see what my body would do after 30 days of focusing only on yoga. After several years of yoga and not being able to hold a headstand, I felt like a yogi loser. In my naive mind I thought…yes…30days of yoga teacher training = yogic MASTER! So, like many others, I signed up for a 200 hour Yoga Alliance teacher training in Ubud, Bali to allow myself to be fully immersed into the experience. Firstly, I must thank my teachers, who provided the greatest experience I could ever imagine. But secondly, I must share the very real “come down”, or reality check that occurs when re-entering civilization after such an experience. There should be a half-way house created just for immersing yogis back into the real world after these intensive programs.
- The Western world is exhausting in comparison to the East: I was encouraged to stay away from the sun, and to rest, read and relax to harness my energy for my practice. In Canada, I felt lazy and pathetic for needing to balance my energy and allow for more time for rest and relaxation. I would throw out vague statements about the status of the moon cycle (“Hey guys, it’s a new moon tonight, felling open and receptive to new ideas and opportunities?!”) and see if anyone would pick up on my vibe. The responses were few and far between, often a few sighs of awkward laughter or shrugging of the shoulders, leaving me to hide at home hugging my salt lamp and praying for empathy and understanding of my sensitivity to the movements of the planets.
- NOISE: Yogis, true yogis, speak with such a beautiful and graceful subtle tone. Within my first week returning, I remember telling a colleague “why are you YELLING?!” only to realize that they were completely appropriate in their tone and them looking back at me like I was a mad woman, or simply rude. Readjusting to the volumes of the city and it’s people was a challenge.
- I HAD A PANIC ATTACK IN IKEA: YEP. This is how that experience went down:
- I moved the day after coming home from Bali/Teacher Training *horrible idea*
- I moved into the new home without a couch, and on the next day I woke up and said, “TODAY, I WILL GET MY COUCH”. Similar to my equation of YOGA TEACHER TRAINING = YOGIC MASTER, I created the equation of COUCH = BALANCED HOME ENVRONMENT AND ALL ANXIETY WOULD DISAPPEAR. I was never good at math. Crazy eyed and sleep deprived I drove across town to every furniture store in a manic state. My final destination was IKEA, where I had an emotional breakdown. I fell in love with a leather couch, however became a recent vegetarian. Reason for vegetarianism was due to my experience on a vegetarian diet through the yoga teacher training and overall philosophy of reducing suffering in the world and sustaining our planet. I literally, SAT on the floor of IKEA staring at the couch, and then staring at my leather purse, and leather shoes and wanted for someone (anyone) to sit down with me and tell me it was going to be OK. I became dizzy and sick to my stomach, visions of cows being skinned and slaughtered danced in my mind in a way they never have before and all I wanted was to go home, but alas, I needed to waltz through the entire showroom to find an exit because that is how consumerism works (WE decide when you’ve seen enough). I felt that I was in the meat packing of furniture shopping (kill kill kill, buy buy buy).
4. Like AA, I needed a sponsor. Sitting on the floor of IKEA, losing my mind over the battle of right and wrong, consumerism, impulse, greed…I needed someone to sit next to me and guide me through this next chapter: to help merge my teachings from the East with my realities of the West. I needed someone to remind me that even by doing a little, I was doing a lot. I built a meditation alter in my home, I practiced meditation everyday, I focused on vegetarian diet, I practiced compassion and forgiveness…why was I not able to see these daily gifts? I could only focus on what I was NOT doing; I was not vegetarian enough, I was not yogi enough, I swear, I drink, I don’t pray enough, I don’t sleep enough, I don’t meditate at sunrise, I drive fast and listen to loud music (WHY COULD THEY NOT FIX ME?!).
The biggest challenge was realizing that although the 30 days of yoga and meditation taught me a lot, and I am thankful for my teacher training, it did not give me what I thought it would. I wanted to be fixed. I wanted to come back and have the strength to live the life I seek; less stress, more yoga, more meditation, laughter often, love deeper, take risks, reduce fear, overcome anxiety… Returning home made me realize these will never be quick fixes, and our life is journey with peaks and valleys, no matter how hard we train, we can never conquer the challenges of existence; it is how we respond to these challenges. It is how we see the gifts in these challenges.
I am grateful for the journey I experienced in Ubud, Bali with some amazing teachers and fellow students. When I feel the chaos of the West burning on my chest, I am thankful for these words that remind me that life does not need to be a rat race, and we cannot always control our path nor the way we seek things to unfold:
“All that you need to know will be presented to you in the right time”.
Perhaps, I was not ready for my teacher training, I had not prepared my life to return in a way that would sustain my teachings and lifestyle. I hope for yoga AA, I hope that other new teachers like myself can connect and share the honest truth about the challenges of merging living in the East with the realities of the West and to FORGIVE ourselves for not always stacking up.
The lessons will continue. Namaste