Wowza, information overload.
After the past month of yoga teacher training, I think my brain is absolutely filled to capacity. A month ago, I would have thought “saucha” was some type of spicy sauce. (FYI, it means purity, or cleanliness, and is one of the Nyamas). Now I could bore you silly with info about the Yamas and Nyamas. Interested in the chakras? Ask me anything. Wondering the Sanskrit name of that fancy yoga pose? I gotcha. Pranayama? Kriyas? Fundamentals of yoga? Class sequencing? Gurl. I am a wealth of knowledge, i’m tellin’ ya.
All that was to be expected though. It is kind of the whole reason I took on this 200-hour training program; to learn everything I can about yoga and to improve my teaching, my practice, and – ultimately – my life. I didn’t expect all the bonus learning that came along with it. Useful life lessons, for sure, but just…unconventional, shall we say?
1. Even for a self-proclaimed introvert who hates everyone in the morning, silence is a struggle. On day two, we were introduced to the concept of “mauna”. From the time we woke up, until 10:45 when we began our lectures for the day, we were quiet, self-contained, introspective humans. No talking, no eye contact, no social media. Yes, I fully appreciated not having to make morning conversation (especially without coffee, eek), but I was surprised by how often I’d catch myself about to break mauna. Getting ready for 6:30AM yoga practice, and not being able to communicate with your roommates to coordinate bathroom activities? Challenging. It was like fighting a reflex to not smile and nod, or call out “goodmorning!” as each yogi friend arrived at the shala. And breakfast time, not being able to just ask “hey, can you pass me a napkin?”? It was oddly quiet, but peaceful. I’m not the only one who slipped up and accidentally spoke during our silent mornings, but overall, I like the idea. I could totally get on board with enforcing a “don’t talk to me before noon and/or six coffees” policy at home.
2. If a Thai person says a food is spicy, frigging BELIEVE THEM! Oh, silly white girl. You are not invincible, and that pad thai does not need extra chilli peppers added on.
3. We should be eternally grateful for how simple a process getting a cab is. Dial a number, click an app, even stand on the side of the road long enough and it’s no big deal to get a taxi. Here at home, that is. In Thailand, outside of a city? Nah bro, you’re stranded. The “grab” cab app seems like a great option, until the driver decides to just not show up. And forget finding someone who knows the phone number for a proper taxi company. Instead, how about you spend two hours wandering some middle-of-nowhere road, hoping against hope that there’s some kind of civilization (and food?!) nearby. (Spoiler alert, there’s not). By the time we finally found a place to steal Wi-fi connection and contact the guesthouse we were staying at, we would have gotten in the car with an axe-murderer if they’d promised us a ride back. Thankfully it didn’t come to that – Ploy, the guesthouse owner/manager/absolute angel of a human being, sent her brother to come save us. I have never, ever been so happy to see a big crappy van pull up in front of me.
4. Never assume you’re alone in an outdoor bathroom. As if once wasn’t bad enough, I had to be dumb enough to learn this twice, and I’m pretty sure it was the SAME goddamn frog both times! It was a good thing I was already on the toilet when a frog came jumping out of the trash bin at me, because otherwise I probably would have peed my pants. The fact that this happened twice is really just a sign that I need to be a whole lot more aware of my surroundings. Honestly though, I’m just pretty impressed that I managed to keep the mauna silence during the whole traumatic experience!
5. There are more ways to cook mushrooms than your imagination could even begin to dream up. Even by the end of the first week, any time we couldn’t otherwise identify something we were eating, it was just assumed to be mushrooms. Any time we asked, that was the answer we got anyway. Endless variations and varieties of mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms. And somehow? They were all delicious. (As was literally every single thing we were fed – major shoutout to the kitchen staff at MalaDhara!).
6. The same cheesy karaoke songs are embraced worldwide. I think between the 18 teacher trainees, we had representation of about a dozen widespread countries. Who would have expected that we’d all be choosing the same terrible songs for karaoke? And that we’d all be equally terrible(-ly wonderful?) at doing so? Let’s just say our first night out post-teacher training was a laugh and a half. Maybe not so much for anyone else at the bar that night.
So yeah, I’m coming home a lot wiser than I left. Still not quite enlightened, but like…I’m getting there. Another lil bit of practicing aparigraha, a few more mushrooms, and I’ll be approaching guru status, I’m sure.