Last week, I spent 7 om-a-licious days on Isla Mujeres, an island just off of Cancun Mexico, studying to become a yoga instructor. I’ve been lightly practicing yoga since 1993, but became more of a regular practitioner in 2002, exploring Bikram, Vinyasa and had a little bit of exposure to Ashtanga. Undergoing a teacher training program has been on my “to-do” list since 2004—only 4 years to check that baby off my list. I'm all about completing my tasks in a timely fashion.
Anyway, before the envy hits you, you should know the days were filled with either practicing yoga, in a lecture about anatomy of movement, or doing homework for the next day’s assignments and practice. It was fairly busy week, and throw in the fact that I’m studying Power Vinyasa yoga, a fairly athletic form of yoga that builds strength, flexibility and a little bit of endurance, you can begin to get the picture of how challenging this has been both physically and mentally. You should feel sorry for me. Really.
The days started off fairly gently, breakfast at 7 (huh? what kind of uncivilized person gets up before the crack of noon?) then meditation at 8 AM. Uh, ok. So om it is at 8. Officially, I should receive a big fat F for the meditation, because all I could think about was swimming with the dolphins, cruising around the island in a go-cart, wondering when Tequila Time was or which ridiculous sombrero I should buy. But apparently failing is a huge part of meditation, so I should get a big fat A, since I was pretty darn good at failing it! (Are you feeling sorry for me yet?)
After meditation, we had a 90-minute Power Vinyasa class, each day focused on a different part of the body, followed by a lecture, an hour lunch, a two-hour break for homework (of course you did this on the beach), an afternoon lecture with a some more physical practice (you practiced teaching and taking from another trainee) and ending with a group dinner. (If I haven't mentioned it already, your heart should be breaking for me by now.)
The last day we had to teach a full 90-minute class as well as take two 90-minute classes, for a total of 4.5 hours of pure yoga strength training. I have to admit, I’ve done a fair amount of endurance activities, including a handful of 24-hour mountain bike races, stage racing and week after week cyclocross racing, but the thought of doing 4.5 hours of Power Vinyasa scarred the lulu lemons out of me. But by the time we finished at 6:30 pm that day, endorphins were running amok and I was ready to rejuvenate with a few adult beverages and authentic Mexican cuisine.
Ya, this pose is a piece of cake. But try doing it while drinking Margaritas without spilling one drop!
This cat has an identity problem. She’s doing downward dog!
So here’s what I learned at yoga camp: