Zuna Yoga 300 Hr. Yoga Teacher Training - Pocket Full of Zen

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.

Sky (top left), Molly (bottom left), Danny (bottom right), me (top right) — April 2019 300 Hour YTT, Zuna Yoga

Sky (top left), Molly (bottom left), Danny (bottom right), me (top right) — April 2019 300 Hour YTT, Zuna Yoga

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.

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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.

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Zuna Yoga 300 Hr. Yoga Teacher Training - Programming

Programming.
Baselines.
Acknowledging faults to find freedoms.

Set your imagination free as you consider this:

The body and mind are formed at conception with basic programs in place, much like when you bring home a new laptop from the store. The computer has basic programs already installed to get you going.
These programs are your computer’s baseline.
Your baseline.
A starting point. Meant to evolve and consistently be upgraded for bugs and glitches and evolution. To keep up with the times. To maintain good working order.

An example of this human programming can be explained using this simple example, which was highlighted during a particularly insightful Zuna Yoga lecture at my recent 300 hour advanced yoga teacher training:

Ladies, on which shoulder do you carry your bag?

For me, it’s always my left. To put my bag on my right shoulder to carry is just crazy. It feels WEIRD. And that, my friends, that feeling of discomfort, that’s a program you’ve run for years and years being challenged. A challenged program is a discomfort, and so the negative signals begin to flood in. This isn’t usual! Abort! Cancel! Esc! Bag to left shoulder ASAP!

We have strong attachments to our programming. We have strong attachments to our thinking minds and have trust built to believe what the thinking mind tells us about who we are and how we feel; I am sad, I am hurt, I am comfortable, I am important, I am jealous, I am hungry. We think, therefore we believe, right?

We are all born with basic software, baseline programming to get us going. As we live, grow, and learn, we either reprogram along the way or we sit with our old, outdated ways of living and thinking and endure. Some people, perhaps, realize they’re way behind the times and do a complete overhaul, all but throwing their old programs out to make room for new ones. This could look like a adult quitting their job, divorcing their spouse, and moving someplace new to start over and live more simply. This could look like a mid-life crisis, or like enlightenment.

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Programming can be brilliant, when consciously maintained. It can lead to a live well lived, where you are in the control seat. Programming, when left unmaintained, can become unhealthy. Take, for example, being in a bad relationship. Imagine being with someone who doesn’t treat you well or give you the attention and affection you crave, or worse yet being with someone who abuses you in some way. Imagine staying with that person for years, feeling unloved, unfulfilled, or ever fearful.

And yet, we all know someone who stays in that bad relationship. No matter what the signs are, they stay.

One of the brilliant minds behind Zuna Yoga, Everett Newell, spoke on this saying,”

Sometimes we stay with the devil we know, the pain and suffering we know, because we’re comfortable with that. We know that pain and suffering. The unknown is uncomfortable, who knows what else is out there, and so we stay. We’re creatures of habit.

To take this one step further, it’s likely we all know someone who has been in said bad relationship, finally gotten out of it, and gone on to date someone just as bad. Programming! That type, that relationship, it’s what the person knows, and so ends up being what the person attracts/seeks. This can happen over and over, and even if the person does finally end up dating someone wonderful, they almost self sabotage the relationship because it feels uncomfortable, it feels foreign, it feels like something they don’t align with. Something they don’t deserve. The programs, their familiar baseline, their thinking mind even are all saying: This isn’t for you. This doesn’t feel normal. Abort! Cancel! Esc!

To me, this is insanely interesting, practical, and applicable. If we don’t update our programs and allow ourselves a soft reset now and then, we get comfortable in our old programming, our familiar, comfortable suffering, our complaining, our ignorance. We’re used to it, it requires little effort.

It also brings about very little change, and very little movement in any sort of positive direction.

If you’re programmed to fight with your partner or your mom or your best friend using low blows and loud voices and insults, and you never DECIDE to install fresh programs, new ways of approaching a situation, and then to USE your newly installed programming to receive more positive, more constructive, more compassionate results, well, keep on fighting, hurting, and getting nowhere.

If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with yoga, my answer is: actually, a lot.

Using the tools offered through a whole yoga practice, you can learn to reprogram yourself. You can reset. You can see who you are, see who you wish to be, and begin to build a healthy bridge between the two.

Yoga is not all head-standing and arm balancing. In fact, if that’s all you think yoga is, that’s all you’ll get out of your practice.

But.

If you can open your mind, set your imagination free, and commit to getting to know yourself as you are, you can change your whole life through a yoga practice. You can begin to identity what programs you’re running, which need to be upgraded, and upgrade them. You can identify your common attitudes, your body type, your mental tendencies, and work from a healthy, supportive, individual place to find relaxation and your truest version of you.

Bonus: If you get to a place where you’re ready and able, not only can you access and modify your programming, you can shut the programs down completely and enter into a truly deep meditation space. While this may not be your goal, how cool to know it’s even possible? How cool to know that the same path that could lead you into deep meditation could also lead you to be a better, more aware, more capable, more conscious friend, partner, parent? A better, more aware, more capable, more conscious version of YOU?


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If you’re wondering where to begin, the first step is completed — you’re interested!

The second step would be to find a teacher, a guide to help you along your journey. This individual approach to the science of yoga is what has made me love teaching privately, so please reach out if you’d like to schedule a Skype session with me.

Additionally, if you have some experience with yoga and are looking to get away and take an immersive leap into the yoga pool, consider attending an immersive training with Zuna Yoga. While many do attend these trainings intending to teach, plenty of people attend to deepen their own practice and for personal knowledge and growth. You can find more information on their website, linked throughout this blog, or email grow@zunayoga.com for more information.