”Gateway Drug to Awesomeness”

Spoiler alert…its gratitude. That is certainly what the following Axis Yoga Teacher Training student came to conclude during the personal experiment portion of the training. Read on to learn how this student went from simply using gratitude as a focus for meditation and started using gratitude as a window into the life that could be. Developing skills like this is what makes the Axis YTT a life changing experience.

 

”Gateway Drug to Awesomeness”: The Book

My personal experiment was to practice gratitude and complain less. My intention was to use gratitude as a focus for my meditation practice and to make a list of things I am grateful for in my journal. For the first week, I was journaling and meditating and everything was fine. Thankfully, my experiment took an interesting turn at the end of week one. I was listening to a podcast of a holistic health practitioner that I follow while I was walking my dog and he happened to be interviewing a writer and life coach named Jen Sincero. Jen had just written a book called You are a Badass and she was spreading it’s message of self-exploration and growth. I ended up listening to the podcast twice and immediately drove to Tattered Cover to buy her book. I sat in the book store and read the first 100 pages in a couple of hours. I bought it, took it home and proceeded to finish it in the following week.

If I were to summarize this book, I would say it’s a piece designed to help the reader be a better person, business owner, partner, employee, human being on this planet. It provides basic guidelines to follow in order to improve your life, make more money (in a non-greedy, non-gross, non-offensive kind of way) and be a better person while also providing witty, hilarious personal stories and insights.

 

”Gateway Drug to Awesomeness”: The Message

Her whole message totally aligned with my personal experiment because a big message she sends is the importance, no…the absolute necessity that gratitude be a part of one’s life. In the chapter entitled: Gratitude: The Gateway Drug to Awesomeness, Jen explains that we not only have to be grateful for what we have that is great, but also the things that aren’t so great AND the things in our lives that we don’t even have yet! Crazy concept, right?!

 

”Gateway Drug to Awesomeness”: The Experience

Halfway into my experiment, I was not only journaling but also creating vivid visualizations of the person I aspire to be in my life (career, relationship, family, spiritual…all aspects) and meditating on this. I also created a daily (more like hourly) ritual where I would spontaneously thank this Universe for what I have today and for giving me the life that I know I will have someday.

All of a sudden, I found this external gratitude seeping into my pores and touching me on a much deeper level. As I kept repeating these words of gratitude for all of my blessings, I really started to realize how amazing my life is and how many awesome possibilities I have in front of me (should have been pretty obvious, huh?).

Conversations with myself used to go like this: “I want to have a really successful nutrition/yoga practice someday where I can really make a difference in people’s lives and make some money so that I can take care of my parents…but that probably won’t happen because most new businesses fail and it seems like it might be really hard to do something like that…and I don’t really know how to make money because I’ve never really had money before. So I guess I’ll just keep not doing what I want to do because it’s probably easier.”

Now, I’m constantly telling myself things like this: “I’m going to have a successful, thriving nutrition therapy practice. I’m going have money so that I can help more people and take care of my family and I am so freaking grateful that the Universe has infinite love, support and resources to allow me to make this happen!”

”Gateway Drug to Awesomeness”: The Lesson

Honestly, it might sound ridiculous but repeating these types of messages over and over and over again start to create a shift. Even in these short couple of weeks, I feel more grounded, focused, content and joyful. Things that used to bother me just don’t have a place in my life anymore. I don’t give them any attention or energy and so they seem to just fade away. I’m choosing to create a reality for myself that is productive, positive and in alignment with the Universe’s plan for me (which oddly enough, is not sitting on the couch watching reality TV shows).

Needless to say, this personal experiment was kind of huge for me. I am definitely taking it with me and using it as a template to grow in this new space of self-awareness.

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” -Anthony Robbins

Learn, Heal, Live

Sounds like a good mantra. And for this Axis yoga teacher training student it was much more; it was a life plan. The Learn and Live elements were well on their way, and Heal was found on the yogic path. This student used the Axis YTT personal experiment to try and use yoga to heal others. Practicing new teaching skills while still learning brought growth, humility and a start to a whole new life.

Learn, Heal, Live: For Me

When I set out to make a life change I honestly didn’t know what to expect. By life change I’m referring to resigning from my job at a local school district and launching LEARN HEAL LIVE (LLL). My goals for LLL were to create a space that would allow me to utilize my passions and talents (some talents are still in the making (e.g. yoga)

LEARN is the entity within LLL that will focus on facilitating and strategic planning. For the last three years of my life I have dedicated a great deal of time and energy to this work and feel very comfortable leading from a place of practice based knowledge. 30 days post startup I have submitted my first proposal for a contract with the city of Denver. I’m thrilled, nervous about it all, yet feel at peace.

LIVE will focus on my first career and longtime passion, real estate! Again post startup I have started working with Lucero Real Estate as a real estate assistant while I study for my real estate exam. Things here are moving fast and I love it. At this point I’m getting a lot of hands on training and experience from a seasoned veteran of the real estate world.

Learn, Heal, Live: For Them

HEAL, this is where you may be most interested, seeing that this paper is a requirement of my yoga teacher training and my future goals. With all that I have shared above you can imagine that my life has been a bit busy. Needless to say the experiment initially started with my desire to focus on starting to learn and practice teaching or assisting a yoga class in Spanish. My interest of teaching yoga in Spanish derives from my desire to connect the Spanish speaking community to yoga.

Like learning how to use directive and proper language to teach yoga in English, I must learn to teach yoga in Spanish. Neither of which are an easy feat. I needed to find teachers teaching in Spanish.

My first outreach was to a local non-profit who has a trauma based yoga class for women in Spanish. I reached out to them with all my enthusiasm only to be told that their classes are closed to the public. Well, I was saying to myself. Self you are no public person; you are a yoga teacher in training, why won’t these folks open up to that. I since have learned that trauma sensitive yoga classes are ones which require a great deal of confidentially, trust and a space that is consistent. With that said I resigned myself to learning yoga en Espanol elsewhere. I also realized that I need training in understanding the emotional and physiological needs of students who are overcoming traumatic experiences in order to do the best I can with them.

Learn, Heal, Live: For One

This next journey happened on its own accord. Since I’ve been blabbing my gums about yoga this, yoga that, virtually everywhere I go. I have received a gift. The gift is that my girlfriend has generously offered to be my student. The week of October 13 was the start of a twice a week practice. The sadhana I was drawn to teach was that of what I have been practicing and learning.

Our sadhana practice starts with chanting the Gayratri mantra. I use the version I found on youtube as a guide. We then flow into pranayama breathing of the Four Purifications, guided meditation and finally asana. Initially I was a little nervous jumping in so fast with even taking on a student let alone establishing a rather elaborate practice. However my heart and soul believe that the mere practice of asana is not the whole body and mind practice that I believe empowers and heals.

My student graciously accepted and ran with the sadhana I had put in place. Each time we met I would adjust the length of the Nadishodhana, Kapala Bhati, Agnisara Dhauti and Ashvini Mudra. I knew that she would go through the learning curve as I did of understanding the technique and feeling of the residual effects.

I currently use my living room for our sadhana. I made the space airy and light by moving furniture out of the way. Lights are soft. We have arranged the mats in several ways, side-by-side or me in front. I believe that I do best when I’m in front as it allows me seeing her and help adjust accordingly.

The guided meditation includes visualization of light starting at the head and passing through the body. I also used the so hum. I asked that she breath in so and exhale hum. The beauty of being a student still has allowed me to add new practices each time we meet. The most recent piece added during our meditation is the counting of our inhale and exhalation.

The asana practice initially started with me using the poses in Hatha Yoga Illustrated. By using the already proven sequencing I felt I would better concentrate in finding my teacher voice and language. However, what I failed to realize is that practicing while teaching added another layer to contend with. I felt I needed to practice in order to better understand and feel the pose. Whether practicing or just teaching finding the correct words are still challenges.

After realizing the challenges of practicing and teaching I switched to just teaching. This was my true test of patience, knowledge and leadership. By not practicing while teaching I was better able to focus solely on her alignment and whether or not she was hearing my direction. These classes felt longer but more rewarding.

Learn, Heal, Live: For All

As time progresses I continued to use what I was learning in class. My sequencing thus far focuses on repetition and recently longer holds. I would like to build my own sequencing by writing down and building out classes. This however still makes me a little nervous as I still have a bit to learn here.

As it relates to my teaching yoga in Spanish I have been asked to teach a class for parents and teachers at a local school. This will begin the first week of December. More to learn and implement! I will reach out to some folks I recently met to put together a class in Spanish. I will also do plenty of research online in order to get more understanding of directive language use in Spanish.

My practice is two-fold. The journey of building and maintaining my own daily sadhana and that which I can share with others is far from perfect. I feel that this requires a great deal more of understanding and self-practice before I can truly be the teacher I want. The reality that I will always be a student of yoga is ever so clear and I must say that I embrace it wholeheartedly. The experiments shall continue!