I left this past weekend of teacher training thinking about the threads of my life that are being drawn together through this process. It is an amazing and marvelous thing. The weekend focused on breath, meditation and the chakras. There were lots of deep discussions, practice teaching, and yoga practice. I will try to capture the essence of the weekend.
We all breathe. Of course, we do. But do you think about breathing? If you do, it will mess with your mind. Try it and see. For most of Saturday we discussed and practiced various breathing practices, or pranayama. I had been exposed to most of them over the years of my practice but I have not practiced regularly. I found it valuable to concentrate again on how my body reacts to breathing, observing what happens when I inhale and exhale, what happens when I think about it versus what happens when I just sit and breathe normally.
We moved on to a discussion of several kinds of meditation. Again, I have practiced or at least been exposed to several of the kinds of mediation techniques we discussed. I am probably most drawn to mindfulness meditation and visualization. I have read Dr. Jon Kabat- Zinn’s work over several years and have long wanted to study with him but have not yet had that opportunity. I know he does not teach very often anymore so I hope I have an opportunity at some point soon. Visualization is a technique that I have made use of in triathlons and racing. I have found quite a bit of discussion about this in triathlon circles and it has been useful to calm me prior to races.
On Sunday we had an opportunity to teach in pairs. This is an incredibly supportive group of women and we all helped one another work through teaching breathing techniques to one another. I am enjoying teaching again and I am looking forward to teaching over the coming months of training.
Sunday was also spent discussing the chakra system. Again, I was already familiar with the chakras but I have much to learn (and a rather hefty book to read about the chakras before the weekend in May). This was probably one of the first times I was involved in discussions about ways to balance the chakras and yoga poses that specifically align with each chakra. I am looking forward to diving into this study over the coming month.
Playing in the park
Saturday was a beautiful day and we took advantage of it by going to a nearby park for our yoga practice. We spread mats on the grass near a playground and Melissa led us through our practice. Part of the practice was playing using the trees to do supported handstands and other inversions. I actually did my very first handstand against a tree with Melissa’s help. It was pretty amazing.
The practice and play reminded me about my purpose and passion as well. Look very closely at the photo below:
Did you just see several women doing backbends and handstands against trees? Or did you also see what made my heart happy? Look at the right side of the photo. There is a father and his daughter (maybe 8ish years old) who joined in and was also doing handstands and backbends right along with us. It reminded me of my purpose when I had to document why I should be allowed to earn the MA in Health Studies at UA since I was already a faculty member with a Ph.D.
In part, I wrote the following, in my justification:
I am keenly interested in four areas related to health education: advocacy and education, health issues which impact women and girls, prevention of diabetes and obesity, and combining the arts with health education. I believe that over 25 years in education as a teacher, librarian, and administrator and graduate degrees in English, Information & Library Science, and Storytelling provide a solid background for pursuing the degree. I will draw on my strengths and previous graduate work while pursuing the degree and in applying what I learn afterwards.
I have discovered that I have a passion for working with others to improve health and to establish healthy habits. As I have had opportunities to share what I know through classes, workshops, and work with non-profits, I have realized that I desire and need a stronger background in theory and practice. My training thus far has been informal and has come from my own reading, taking workshops, my own personal training, and several years studying yoga, Reiki, and other Eastern practices.
So far this blog, teaching classes at my church, and volunteer work have been my main venues for sharing my knowledge and passion for health education. I do hope to change that and incorporate all that I have learned and continue to learn into something greater that will continue to serve others. In the meantime I will continue on my journey and see how the threads continue to weave together.