Releasing Tension [my yoga teacher training: part three]

I just got out of another rigorous Ashtanga class. They should really re-brand this place Sampoorna Yoga Bootcamp because that’s what it feels like.

If my wrists don’t hurt, it’s my shoulders that are aching. If my shoulders become less of a bother, I notice the unbearable pressure present behind my knees. If I happen to take ibuprofen that day to ease the pain, it’s my mind that starts to trouble me.

All of this pain and emotion hangs over me from the moment I wake up at 5:50am, too tired to get up, yet smart enough not to hit snooze, prolonging the agony. Already drenched in sweat from a hot sleepless night with no AC, I take a shot of coffee and drag my feet up what seems like 1000 stairs to sit in meditation with my exhausted peers. On the plus side, the view from the higher shala is sensational and I have stopped falling asleep during my practice. Sometimes I make it through without realising that red ants are crawling all over me. Perhaps, this training is working after all.

I remember at the end of the first week, smiling because I had thought I made it through the hard part. Surely the first week would be a shock to my system, but my body would catch up and the next 3 weeks would be a breeze. “The first week is always the hardest.” My teachers smiled at me, puzzled when I gloated out loud. I soon realised why.

Mondays are, well, Mondays, and let’s face it, no one wakes up feeling well rested from the weekend and ready to take it on. As I struggled through the postures I experienced a brief moment of gratitude towards my whereabouts, and despite the pain pushed through. Tuesday was worse, and already it seemed like the weekend would never come. As the temperature elevated beyond anything I could had imagined, so did my desire to throw in the towel. Wednesday I dreamed of clean sheets and cake and thought seriously about sleeping through the morning. However, I was fueled with the determination to push my self outside my comfort zone, dragged my ass out of bed and tackled the everlasting stairs. I have learned here that my will power might just be one of my biggest assets – that, coupled with some pep-talks from my loved ones made Thursday more bearable. Oddly enough on Friday I actually said I like Ashtanga. Though, I think this was due to the highly anticipated happiness of post-Vinyasa wine.

I was satisfied with my commitment when the weekend came, and looked internally, reflecting. I have actively decided to stop breaking my back during twists, I don’t stay up until 2 am trying to memorize Sanskrit, and I try not to study during all of my off time just because some of my peers happen to be. I am engaged when I need to be, and turned off when it suits me. Mostly, I am absorbing the information, thinking logically about its application and keeping myself uplifted during periods of slight insanity. I am continuously striving to remain myself in a sea full of people who are more or less out to achieve the same thing.

All in all, this week has had a lot of highs and lows, during which I have felt both determination and doubt. Though it’s easy to feel like I am the only person hurting it takes one look around to realise that we were all cut from the same cloth. We’re all in this together. I see many gloomy, tired faces surround me. So many people dragging their feet, or struggling to stand up after sitting down for 5 minutes. Friends leaving in the middle of an asana, lightheaded and on the verge of passing out, and others in the loo staring at the remnants of last nights’ meal that had just come up. Each one of us stuck in our own personal misery. Yet none of us giving up.

That is the magic of this place, and perhaps Sampoorna itself. It’s clear to see that we have become this happy little yoga community. Everyone is always taking care of one another, sharing aloe-vera when someone is badly burnt, applying cream to each others mosquito bites, pleased to give the end of our pot of tiger balm, or last bit of our stash of ibuprofen (or cigarette) to someone in need. I have gotten particularly close with 3 London based girls, each of whom have qualities I can seriously relate to, but each of us very different in our own right. They remind me that no matter what our reasons for being here we have to remember to live, to laugh and to let go of the little things that are so irrelevant in a place as simple as this.

One thing remains certain: We signed up for an intensive Yoga Teacher Training, but I have no doubt that we will leave India with far more.

Jaime Tully