When you are participating in a Zuna Yoga teacher training it is easy to be soft. You are completely immersed in a supportive, loving atmosphere — lovingly referred to as the “Zuna bubble” — while participating in a program designed to bring things up and out of you. The magical, nurturing, safe “Zuna bubble” is a great place for a breakdown as well as a breakthrough. I experienced them both, sometimes alternating them day to day, without need to put a cork in my emotions, and without need to dim my flame out of fear it would be too bright for those around me.
In the Zuna bubble, you can just be.
Everyday, you come as you are, everyday you are different, and everyday that is okay.
The hard part of teacher training is when it ends and you return home.
The trick isn’t teaching, you’re super prepared to teach.
The trick isn’t practicing, you’re super prepared to practice.
The trick becomes reacquainting yourself with your phone when it went largely, happily ignored on your nightstand in a rice field villa for over a month.
The trick becomes holding on to as much of the silence, the stillness, the softness, the zen you’ve cultivated amidst rush hour traffic and dinner parties.
The trick becomes wanting to explain your insights, clarities, and experiences to the people at home who you love and trust the most, and knowing you’ll likely be met with confusion instead of shared excitement and wonder.
On the last day of a Zuna Teacher training, you put the lessons, the overcome challenges, and the zen you’ve worked for weeks to cultivate right into your pocket, you taxi to the airport, and you hope it’s still there when you get home.
I realize now as I reflect back on this 300 hour advanced teacher training that I don’t think I sucked my stomach in once during my time at Zuna (Uddhiyana Bandha doesn’t count!). Not even when I wore a bathing suit and took pictures by the pool. I didn’t even travel to Bali with a flat iron or curling wand. I just wore my air-dried hair in a braid or a ponytail everyday, unstyled. I felt strong, beautiful, accepted, my face and shoulders always extra freckled, warm from the sun, and covered in bug spray and sunscreen. I was happily undone, the simplest version of myself. New friends told me I was glowing, said my hair was luscious and hashtag goals, said that my asana practice looked strong and steady, laughed at my jokes, sat with me at lunch, left me alone when I needed that instead.
I’ve been home for a few weeks now, and I already feel myself covering up, nervous to be in a swim suit or show my body. I put on makeup and fix my crazy little baby hairs to go see my friends. I weigh myself and am unhappy with the number. I wonder what people say about me when I leave the room.
And truly, that is not anyone’s fault or doing except my own.
Bali, and more specifically my 300 hour Zuna family, was like a capsule of safety and comfort where you show up as you are, and you’re accepted and loved regardless. Maybe that is an underlying part of the program, you learn quickly that “it” doesn’t really matter, whatever it is; bloat, wild hair, mis-matched clothes, an off mood.
Now I’m back in the “real world” where I feel the weight of standards and expectations, judgements and comparisons. More than anything, my goal right now is to keep hold of the the compassion, the acceptance, the love — the zen. I check my pocket often to make sure it’s still in there.
The type of yoga you do at a Zuna Yoga teacher training is whole. It takes you inward. You’ll certainly move your body, but you won’t focus 100% on the external, the gross, the superficial, the weight-loss, the playlist, the outfit.
Zuna aims to take you inward in an attempt to give you a full practice, head to toe, chakra to chakra, inside and out, body and soul.
It isn’t about what your neighbor can do that you cannot, or vice versa.
It isn’t about how long your neighbor can hold their breath, or how they look in their sports bra, or how their hair sits after a 3 hour practice.
It’s about you and only you; going in, being with yourself.
Learning how your mind works and wanders so you can take hold of the reins.
Learning how the body moves, and becoming a skilled sailor of your ship, in still water and in waves.
Zuna also gives teachers the tools to take these lessons out into the world, to share.
The lessons may happen on the mat, but we don’t leave them there. We hold them in each of us, a pocket full of zen, a pocket full of the lessons we’ve learned, the experiences we’ve had, the troubles and the triumphs. We carry them off of the mat, out of the shala, and into the world. I can cue a client into a pose, and I can teach them how to breathe again, how to stand still again, how to close their eyes for more than just a moment. I can inspire them to see and meet the challenges that come out of stillness and quiet. A Zuna Yogi can get your heart beat to quicken, and still leave you feeling balanced, relaxed, and more in control of yourself than when you began class.
I know my practice, and my ability to share the lessons I’ve learned, be they related to asana or something else.
I checked my pocket today, and it was still full.