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50 Life Lessons from Yoga Teacher Training

A few days ago I completed three weeks of 12 hours a day of yoga, lecture, workshops, and meditation that comprised Zuna Yoga’s 200-hour teacher training program. As I begin to ease back into society, I feel amazing shifts in my physical, mental, and spiritual development as a result of a much deeper, slower, and more meaningful practice of yoga.

photo credit: Kyra Cosman

Beyond alignment, giving hands-on adjustments, sequencing tools, and meditation methods, teacher training has helped further shape my perspective on peaceful, conscious living in general. In no particular order, here are some of the most important things I learned:

1. We are comprised of matter, energy, and consciousness.

2. Attitude manifests experience. It is possible to see—in a non self-deluding manner— wonder, beauty, and/or a life lesson in every situation with a simple shift in perspective.

3. Inner radiance is real. One may genuinely wake up smiling and feeling totally beautiful.

4. Microcosm. Macrocosm. These are relative terms. In your body the universe, in the universe your body. I felt this understand ing one morning while staring at this flower, seeing in its petals the pinwheel of a galaxy.

shot by me on iPhone

5. Savasana does not mean exhaustedly collapsing into a puddle of hot power vinyasa sweat, but rather experiencing a restorative, total surrender of the mind and senses.

6. Patterns of behavior exist in our genetic programming.

7. Mindfulness can induce behavioral change, allowing us to alter the irrational patterns programmed in our bodies as we choose. For example, I recently opted to enjoy papayas, a fruit I have truly detested since childhood. Rationally, I know how excellent they are for one’s skin and digestion (papain is a common gut supplement); my dislike for them was a disservice to me. I have eaten papaya daily in Bali and am now in love with their flavor and texture.

8. A healthy body alignment and knowledge of one’s anatomy creates a far more sustainable yoga practice than brute force and over-stretching ligaments.

9. There is joy to be found in the creation of space (physical, emotional, and mental).

photo credit: Kyra Cosman

10. The unique idiosyncrasies and asymmetries of every human body should be worked with—not against—in the practice of yoga and all other practices.

11. Mindful metacognition can lead to neural reprogramming.

12. Yoga empowers its practitioners to recognize a challenge,

13. greet this challenge,

14. learn limitations,

15. acknowledge limitations.

16. breathe through the limitations,

17. and ultimately breathe through the challenge.

18. Becoming your own witness will help quickly and effectively drive behavioral change.

19. Recognize that not everyone has or is willing to have a sense of observational rationality.

20. Seeking fulfillment requires an openness to it.

21. Yoga nidra is totally trippy and definitely worth trying for both its health benefits and quick transportation into a relaxed realm.

22. “Don’t let yoga be your only workout and don’t let yoga only be a workout” -Katherine Girling (Master Trainer at Zuna Yoga)

23. Individuality is both an illusion and a reality.

shot by me on iPhone at Dream Masks, Ubud, Bali

24. The body stores stress and memories in places other than the brain.

25. Many people go through an entire lifetime without taking a full breath.

26. The amount something affects you is your decision.

27. Be silent more often.

28. You do not need to expect perfection from yourself; however, expect yourself to strive for it.

29. The mind, body, and breath are inextricably linked. Specifically, breath can be used to control heart rate variability and therefore physiological/subconscious responses to stimuli.

30. Every moment of every day you are creating your reality; you are the artist.

31. It is possible to sense highly subtle changes within your body.

32. It is possible to sense highly subtle changes in your environment.

33. Clarity. It is a beautiful, powerful sensation, especially when consistently obtained.

34. Share your practice!

In a very happy balasananda ("happy baby pose") with Kelly Dalrymple. Photo by Anne Wu

35. Meditation and longevity go hand in hand

36. Meditation and compassion go hand in hand.

37. Unmanaged emotions lead to unconscious behavior, which in turn can cause hurt.

38. Use discernment in evaluating and forming relationships, but not judgment.

39. Intelligently capitalize on the processing power of the mind.

40. Engage in the act of objective self-study (svadhyaya) regularly.

41. Learn how to find a comfortable seat.

42. When you do, be completely still.

43. Take full responsibility for the seeds of thought and emotion you plant in yourself and others that later become actions.

44. Detach from outcome.

​45. Training the mind to become one-pointed ensures maximal energy towards the subject of focus.

46. It is possible for the vast majority of students to be in tears of joy, beauty, and/or emotional release during and after a deep yoga practice.


Finally, I have to borrow from Walt Whitman’s "Song of the Open Road." This soulful excerpt was read to us during a yoga class towards the end of a three hour practice; it brought me to tears and an overwhelming sense of both vulnerability and strength while in janusirsasana.

Still morning at Azadi, shot by me on iPhone

47. “I inhale great draughts of space,

48. The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

49. I am larger, better than I thought,

50. I did not know I held so much goodness.”


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