A Yoga Journey

Major Life Lessons Revealed by Dave Teitler in 16 Weeks

Submitted By: Angela R. Williams-Jones
April 12, 2010

January 4, 2009 was the first moment that I finally began my journey of fulfilling my dream of becoming a certified yoga instructor. My first class was Hatha Yoga IV. I walked in not fully knowing what to expect; feeling a bit rusty from the holiday break with the kids and really wanted to see how the curriculum vitae would go and how I would measure up to the requirements at hand.
While trying to get acclimated to my surroundings, I found my mind wandering and I kept allowing my thoughts to penetrate my practice. My Ujjayi breathing technique was off and I went blank when going through the mechanics of Warrior II to Warrior III. I believed that Dave thought that I had never done yoga before and was flying by the seat of my pants.

The setting was very different from what I was used to. The room was chilly with wood floor tiles, very bright florescent lighting and oh, my there were mirrors along the wall! The person on the mat next to me was chatting away, coughing, sniffling and complaining about the traffic and the temperature of the room. As we begin the practice, my focus was a mess! My mind drifted to the soft colors on the walls of my personal yoga practice, the neutral tones of the Berber carpet, the crystals hanging in each window and along beams in the ceiling of the room. Where were the music and the incense? The sounds of ohm were not resonating by voice nor was there any chanting. This would certainly take some getting used to. Oh, right, I am here to learn, not relax and forget to stresses of the day. But then again, am I? (Excerpt from personal yoga journal Hatha IV)
We all have our reasons or a specific moment / experience in our lives that determines when we will attempt to begin a yoga practice. For me, it was a loud cry for peace of mind and sanity coupled with curiosity after seventeen long years in the career of Corporate Human Resources that continually seemed to be going awry. At first glance, Yoga appeared to have all of my favorite qualities in an exercise. It was indoors within a temperature controlled environment, I had my own personal space outlined by my mat, there weren’t any insects and I it didn’t seem that I would sweat from overexertion. However, after many months of daily practice, I received so much more.
It never occurred to me that I would become physically stronger and more balanced nor that it would spark a desire and passion in me that was completely the opposite of who I thought I was. As I followed my daily practice and tried various classes and instructors, I always seemed to learn something new and fun.

As the days and weeks went by within Hatha Yoga IV, Advanced, II and III, I began to find a new focus within the structure of my practice. Listening to others and participating in the lectures often reminded me of how we are all human and divine beings searching for our personal purpose. Many times, I would glance across the room in any of the four classes and feel proud that the combination of so many people, from all walks of life, different shapes, sizes, personalities, family lives, ethnic backgrounds, etc. was here for the same thing! To learn more about yoga, to challenge themselves, to find out who they really were, being open to the stories and the lectures which would assist them to moving onto the next level and stages of their lives. I have clearly learned that life is a series of journeys each building upon the next with no specific goal in mind other than becoming the divine being that we are destined to be and possibly being vigilant and dedicated enough to get a glimpse of our true selves. Every time something major happened in my life I immediately thought, wow, is this who I am or is this my life’s purpose or perhaps this is my destiny. When I got married, bought a home, became a high level executive, had my daughter at 12 lbs., 10 oz. or my son at 8 lbs. 12 oz., when I went from 360 pounds down to 130, battled and worked through difficult decisions (some not so wise), psychological challenges and hard to swallow physical diagnoses, I actually believed that must be it, for me life would just be a series of shambles, trials and tribulations. However, after training with Dave in Hatha II, III, IV and Advanced that my thoughts were not correct at all! Those particular moments are just simple milestones, memories and individual journeys that assist in the formation of our psyche. Dave has taught me that there are many things in life that we cannot control, but I truly believe that we can each find our way by being honest with ourselves, accepting full responsibility for the things in life that we claim that just ‘happen’ to us, by focusing on our goals, by being mindful of our actions, by being completely honest with ourselves and by following and practicing the Yamas, we are in all actuality, each taking a tremendous step forward in our lives and beyond.

It occurred to me, time and time again that though we were all in the course together, everyone’s purpose for being there and how they came to be in this room were all dramatically different. I am extremely grateful that I was placed in a position that would allow me to follow through with my passion and desires. I am grateful that I have been presented with an instructor that is knowledgeable, giving in nature and I can relate to the information offered to me.

With each class, I welcomed a new day and a new focus. I knew that because of my own true personal nature that I would not fail in my quest I would always be early to class, always prepared to speak and always follow the rules presented to me. While many did not appear to understand this, whether it be to turn off a cell phone, not to wear shoes into the room or to wear black pants and a white shirt for each class, I rationalized that each rule had a purpose. I may be incorrect, but I thought that the apparel requirement was to ensure a connection between everyone where the practice would present itself more as a dance and provided uniformity showing that we were all one. Occasionally, being human, admittedly, it would bother me if someone was absent because of a planned vacation or not being mindful of their attire, but throughout these courses I also learned not to judge others. My reasoning was my own just as they had their own reasons as well. This was one of the many breakthroughs I have experienced throughout this trimester. I have also learned that holding many of the simplest of postures for long periods of time, that I could have tremendous experiences where I released a lot of emotional baggage, I learned to be more respectful of others feelings/choices and started to understand that what I want is not necessarily always the best choice for me. For me, Tuesdays consisted of Advanced Yoga and Hatha Yoga II. For comparison purposes, I included an excerpt from my yoga journal regarding my first impressions of each course to compare to the transformation that has taken place until now.

On January 5, 2010, it was a beautiful day. I had an opportunity to read all of the information and watch the videos on the Real Yoga website. I was able to meditate in silence for 20 minutes before class and felt that the practice went splendidly. My love for yoga and the lifestyle that I lived permeated throughout the Advanced Class. I was able to remain focused and learned something new in the breathing technique. When I came back at 5:30 for the second class, I was fluid and ready to go.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm caused me to zip through many of the poses as opposed to slowing down and allowing full connection of the meditative practice to come through. I did have a better understanding of myself today, though; I just realized that I do not need the tones of ohm shanti to move me to my focus and meditative state to be fluid in movement. I can burn sage and incense at home. When I started to connect with my breath, I was no longer concerned with the lighting or the mirrors nor the temperature of the room. Could it be that I am moving into a higher possibility with the practice. I remain poised and ready for more. (Excerpt from personal yoga journal Hatha Yoga Advanced and II)

January 6, 2010, Day three, ready for Hatha Yoga III. Focused with a clear mind is how I begin this day, looking forward to learning more and absorbing the knowledge that I will receive today. I arrived to class early and was extremely thankful to find a comfortable location without disturbing anyone. I was able to meditate before class, stretch my cervical spine and revel in the peace and quiet of the room. This would be my first Hatha Yoga III class today.

In today’s practice, I was able to focus more on my breathing techniques and was able to slow myself down into much more fluid movements. I definitely felt a connection to the breath, mind and motion today. After taking savasana, we did something a bit different. Dave asked us to sit in an upright position, close our eyes and go into ourselves to find our heartbeat. This was a new feeling for me. I have experienced many instances of swirling colors (mostly green from the heart chakra) but today something new took place.

In my living room window, I have crystals, various wind chimes and feng shui paraphernalia hanging to break up any existing negative energy and to invite prana into my home. Each morning, I open the curtains and allow the sunlight to penetrate the crystals and spin them causing hundreds of spinning rainbows to flow across the walls, the ceiling and the floors in a beautiful display while either burning sacred sage or nag champa incense. It is a ritual portion of the day where I am thankful, and take time to offer peace, love, abundance and prosperity to the world.

When the spinning slows down and the crystals begin to move ever so slightly, you can see the rainbows move in a pendulum motion. This is the feeling that I personally experienced inside. It was as though I was one of those crystals waving slowly in the sunlight and felt the connection of my breath to my heartbeat. My body may have been motionless on the outside, however, inside, I felt a true sensation of floating and swaying all at once. It was a feeling that I look forward to reaching out for again.

(Excerpt from personal yoga journal Hatha III)

All in all, while the classes of Hatha II, III, IV and Advanced may be technically ending this week, the changes, epiphanies, joy, life lessons and the vast abundance of knowledge given to me does not end here. In addition to all of the smaller items that I have mentioned above, most importantly, I have learned that being a Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master and Studio Owner is the right path for me. Throughout the multiple trips back and forth to the college, the dedication to my daily practice as well as the insightful practice with Dave actually resulting in a large number of hours per week; yoga remains an enigma to me with more to be achieved, more to learn, more people to share it with and best of all it is still FUN!
Lastly, Dave, I would like to personally thank you for sharing your knowledge, skills and abilities with me and I look forward to student teaching with you beginning May 3, 2010. I am thankful and grateful that you were sent into my life and that you have blessed me with your knowledge. For this, I offer you Peace, Love, Light and continued Joy in your life.