Friday, November 7, 2014

My Experience with the Accessible Teacher Training Program

by Patrice Priya Wagner

I was taking adaptive yoga classes and at some mysterious moment found myself in a gentle stream as if a body of flowing water was carrying me along downstream. My only choice was to paddle along with the current because trying to go back upstream would have taken far more energy than I could muster given that I have severe fatigue from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In a nutshell, that’s how I found myself enrolled in the first Accessible Yoga Teacher Training program (AYTT) in 2007.

Never before had I experienced that sort of phenomenon in my life that I can recall—-as if a choice had been made for me and all I needed to do was go with the flow. It became increasingly clear that enrolling in AYTT was the unanimous decision of myself and someone or something else that I don’t have a name for. Actually, my vote in the decision-making process seemed inconsequential.

The adaptive classes that I had been enjoying for several years were challenging me in a good way but then, at times, the poses were more than my body could comfortably handle. Since I was dedicated to my practice and thought I had reached the “glass ceiling” of how far I could go with it, I was pleased about the option to gently flow downstream and see if I could learn more.

Wanting to deepen my practice, I hoped that a Teacher Training would assist with that pursuit but I wasn’t so sure about becoming a teacher. It seemed like such a huge leap to go from being a student with a disability to actually instructing other people in a class. My desire to help others kept coming to mind as I floated so I let myself consider many different ways I could be of assistance.

Adventures into new territory have always been challenging for me. However, on the first day of AYTT I found that being with a group of people with disabilities of all sorts to learn more about yoga on a deeper level felt very comfortable. Nonetheless, when it came time to demonstrate in front of the class my emotions changed gears.

I was sure I would flunk out because one of the first things I was assigned to do included chanting Om and I couldn’t sing a note! Chanting isn’t singing I soon discovered and when sounds of Om vibrated from my throat the neighborhood dogs howled along with me. I’m still not sure if that was a good omen or not!

Learning how to adapt Hatha Yoga poses for a variety of physical disabilities soon became part of the training that I looked forward to each week. In addition, lessons about Raja Yoga philosophy and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras were incredible. I found a structure for living a mindful life that I had been searching for and couldn’t locate until that teacher training started.

Instruction about Pranayama breath work and meditation kept me coming back for more. Although the assignment at the beginning of the program was just 5 minutes each of Hatha poses, Pranayama and meditation I wanted to do more. Every day after my 15-minute practice I would feel so positive and serene about the upcoming events of the day that it really didn’t matter what was on my To-Do list for the day! As the weeks passed by my practice deepened and the foundation was laid for a life that values compassion, love, not getting attached to material possessions, and helping others. Floating downstream to enroll in AYTT was one of the best things I’ve ever done!

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