Article written and researched by Maxine Iharosy, CYT 500.
What I Didn’t Learn in Bali.
We have no art-
we do everything as well as we can.
There were mornings when watching the dancing lofty tips of banana leaves against the rising sun was the only thing I could have ever needed to take part in for the rest of my life. To sit there, staring inward at myself and upward at the sky, were some of the most gratifying experiences I have been blessed to have. It’s amazing that such a simple thing can seem so inaccessible at times. Let me explain.
I wanted to pursue my 500 hour level Yoga Teacher’s Certification with two teachers who had greatly impacted me in the past. When I first met Jovinna Chan and Grace Jull I was at Kripalu undergoing the invisible makeover that a 200 hour YTT provides. I found out last year that they run a Women’s Leadership in Yoga immersion training for advanced teacher’s certification called Shakti Initation. It was in Bali, and I couldn’t afford it.
A most amazing thing happened when I decided I couldn’t imagine myself not going. I reached out and put my desire into the world, in the studio circle, amidst family and friends, and in return I raised funds to cover my entire tuition. Now all that I had to do was commit, buy the plane ticket, and swallow the thought that I would be missing six weeks of pay. Little did I realize at the time, this was the first significant leap in my leadership training.
When I arrived I was given the space immediately to fulfill the truest potential of myself that I felt I could offer. We practiced meditation and pranayama daily, letting the elusive nature of my thought patterns surface. There is a distinct difference for me between maintaining my own practice, and being ushered into the space of attention to present-moment detail with a group of others earnestly doing the same. I was inadvertently co-creating a space of deep intention and rhythm amidst my other Shakti ‘sisters’ that opened up the door to come home to myself– a place I thought I already clearly and confidently inhabited. What I discovered instead was that the terrain of my inner wilderness was exactly that: a wilderness.
What I didn’t learn in Bali was a structured presentation of how to teach advanced Yoga Asana in North America. What I learnt in Bali was how to forget everything I knew, and remember everything I had forgotten about the mysterious nature of this world. It was a melting pot of recollections from curiosity I inhabited in the lifetime of childhood with a heavy dose of female empowerment and celebration for life.
As asana practice wasn’t the pinnacle reason for this specific training, we were given plenty of opportunity if we so desired to adorn ourselves externally in wear that is an uncommon sight in a studio (flowy dresses, messy hair, jewelry), and we were also encouraged to adorn ourselves internally with a sincerely loving gaze of focused self awareness. Asana practice is the physical sequences and postures that can be insinuated in the Western world to encompass the teachings of Yoga, though don’t get me wrong, I do love a sweaty hour of vinyasa, and I have had much revealed to me about the nature of myself by moving around on a sticky mat. This breath of fresh air, however, this space to just open the inner eye and take a look around at the wilderness therein, was exactly what I needed.
Each training I have been to has certainly had its wealth of self-study time, but this specific one with leadership at its core essence, was so deeply humbling, nourishing, and necessary for my personal development as a teacher of Yoga. Whether it was the potent combination of Grace and Jovinna, the backdrop of the humid spiritually soaked culture of Bali, the fact that we had been studying as a group since September with distance phone calls, or a rich blend of many factors, I was able to revisit my passion for teaching Yoga with fresh insight and conviction.
Perhaps the greatest teachings I received were the encouragement to ‘practice staying’. Practice staying where the heat rises, whether that’s in seated meditation, or at the crest of miscommunication, to practice staying nonetheless with a sincere desire in the heart for peace to surface from the breaking waves of each present moment tumbling into the next. That doesn’t mean life, or teachings, or a relationship, or your place of work, always feel peaceful and pleasant. It’s a warrior’s path to practice staying, to practice Yoga, to practice giving room for peace to prevail, and it is a path that I am on with many, many hands holding me up.
So to sum it up, I did not go to Bali with the intent to perfect my cueing, assisting, or alignment, though these aspects of my teaching have without a doubt been affected by the rippling cause and effect of self study. The nature of my curiosity and the potent presence of my facilitators did not allow for asana to be the pinnacle of my experience at this time in my life. I learnt instead about the wise grace of approaching my inner wilderness as a constantly renewing complexity, and to practice staying with the knowing that as soon as I think I figured myself out, there is another path revealing. This wilderness has a predictable nature of unpredictability, and to tune the inner senses to see my self not as a map to be known, but a sand swept, eroding, lifting, non-linear path to be walked with. The greatest inspirations come from this place of mystery, and there is only boundless discovery now in this realm of leadership from the inside depths of myself out into the world.
Maxine Iharosy teaches two weekly classes at Tone, and co-manages the space along with fellow teacher and mentor, Shannon Crow. Join her Mondays at 5:30 pm for a Core Awakening Class and 5:30 pm on Wednesdays for a Gentle practice. She also runs a seasonal 4 week series called Yoga for the Anxious Mind, and hosts a variety of events at the space.