I had thought long and hard about what I had learned from my month away. Coming home, I descended to a feeling of mixed emotions and in certain moments, feeling out of place like I had just been plucked off a place which I had felt complete sense of belonging to a strange place I have always called home.
As soon as I got behind the wheels of my car though, the cogs in the wheel of what I call my life here started to kick back into gear. Amanda tried to teach me how to swim a week ago while we were splashing about in the pool before our evening practice. “It’s just like riding a bike” to which I responded with a blank look and said “I don’t know how to ride a bike”. She said a quiet “oh” and momentarily swam away hoping I’d forget she was supposed to be teaching me how to swim. Haha! But if someone had told me “it’s like driving your car, in the mad city called Kuala Lumpur” then it would probably make a little bit more sense to me.
I thought back to all the conversations I had, the major breakthroughs, and everything else in between. And though I know my words will not do justice to the amazing things I have learned, below are few items which I felt is worth highlighting.
1) Faith in genuine kindness and love
I hadn’t thought of this much until I reached home yesterday, when the first answer that popped to my head as I was thinking of the major takeaways from the course was “it restored my faith in genuine kindness” which ultimately leads to genuine connection as a result. This was something that I had struggled with for a while always doubtful of a person’s genuity and whether there are such things as true strangers who would care to reveal their inner most parts to you in order to stay true and honest with themselves. Sure, as the weeks go by some people tended to find more common similarities in certain others and began to plan their breaks and day off together. But in general, dinner time was a healthy rotation of people as we sat to nourish ourselves with the food and the meaningful (sometimes hilarious) conversations.
I shared many break times with some individuals from the course, cruising behind their scooters, zooming past Lamai or Chaweng road and made our (almost) daily visits to Tesco. I would sit in Boots while they ate at the food court and “collected” me after they were done. None of them can understand my obsession with Boots. We made trips to the French Bakery, and to the more touristy roads of Chaweng. We shared coconut gelatos, and pizzas and pastas. We walked to the Rabbit Room, a cute little blue glass room 2 minutes away from Vikasa for a glass of iced coffee and lots of conversations. There were a LOT of conversations, most of them deep and arresting. All were meaningful, even the funny ones that ends up in a fit of laughter. These times also taught me that you will see kindness around you, if you are first open to allow it to reveal itself.
2) Pain is weakness leaving the body
This came from Ryan, one of the many people I had connected with and spent some time talking about life, and the world around us. We were talking about the difference we observed in our bodies from Day 1 right up to the Graduation day. I see this in many different perspectives, whether it be physical pain (which only means you are getting stronger) or an emotional pain (which draws attention to a part our lives we might have been neglecting). Obviously, what is meant by physical pain are the kind that is uncomfortable, but not sharp. The kind that is referred to as “creative pain” or “karmic pain” in the yoga world, but never, ever the sharp, nerve like pain which really only ever means you are one step away from the Emergency room.
3) The universe is within me as much as I am within it
As learned from the philosophy module, I was introduced to the concept of energy and that all being consist of a level of energy. Even our souls. It reminds me to always be compassionate, that I am not alone in this quest we called life, and whatever misery or joy that I experience is as much part of me and I am part of it. I was trying to explain this to L during dinner last night, and he looked at me and shook his head and said “this is too deep for me”. So don’t feel alone if you have no idea what I just wrote in the last 3 sentences above! :p
4) Fear is an area worth challenging, and what lies beyond it could be really really beautiful
I grew up with so many fears instilled into me, but to no fault on anybody of course as I am sure it was done with good intentions to protect those whom we love the most. But some fears are unfounded and I rode through it like Nicolas Cage did on his big bad motorbike in Ghostrider (or at least I’d like to metaphorically think of it that way!). Fear of inversions, check to plow, check to an almost there shoulder stand, and check to a baby headstand in progress. Beyond asanas, Tee played a pivotal role to me as he helped me through fear of height (or was it fear of falling between jagged rocks near the sea and no one will find me until the next day?) and taught me how to get to the point where the rock lion sat overlooking into the sea. Possibly THE best spot to be at, undisturbed on the Vikasa ground. He taught me how to float, together with Amanda and how to be comfortable with the sensation of being underwater. And how NOT to freak out when the water gets trapped in my ear canals longer than it should. Lenka taught me to hop around on one leg like I’ve been set on fire to get the water out faster than anything else. Rodney gave me my first lesson on how to sit behind a bike and be a good passenger, without giving the driver in front an unintentional butt massage by gripping on to them too tightly with my thighs.
5) Living in a bamboo hut is cute and quaint, maybe for the first 3 weeks.
After the 3 week mark, and many little events which involved a rat crawling around in my hut and knocking over my oatmeal in the middle of the night, listening to my bamboo hut neighbour screaming when another rat decided to pay her hut a visit one night and being woken up to top 40s of the 1990s at 6 am every morning, I finally admitted that I hadn’t been getting the best quality of sleep I should be having. The final week was spent sharing bed space with Chandra, who had so kindly welcomed me into her awesome air conditioned villa and accommodated my teeth-grinding orchestra with humor. I love her to bits for sacrificing her own space in our last week there.
6) My list of to-do and not to-do as a yoga teacher
This I learned through observing the best of teachers that came through Vikasa’s door and also the limitations that some had in their approach to teaching. I respect and adore Kosta’s and George’s approach to yoga asana and theory. They were warm in their approach, kind, patient and made everything felt like it was possible. This was the definite to-dos for me when I begin to teach too. There were other teachers too that covered specific modules within the course. I learned that, as a teacher, one needs to think carefully before uttering a comment or an opinion especially if it veers towards generalizing a large group of people based on limited exposure to it. To always maintain neutrality, and not instilling education from a defensive stance. And to always watch, watch, watch what comes out of my own mouth even if it means accidentally uttering “go away” to another student to shoo them off the mat.
I will most probably constantly digest and process what I have gone through, and with each of this a new lesson will reveal itself. But for now, these are are what I thought made the effort, time, and money spent on the teacher’s training course absolutely worth it.