Learning for learning's sake
Ever since I was a young child I have been on a mission to learn as much as possible. It always seemed to me that there was so much knowledge available "out there" and I was eager to bring that knowledge inside.
After high school I attended university and enrolled in an undergrad Religion degree program. My intention was to learn as much as possible about all world religions, in the hopes of answering some deep seeded questions I had about life, the universe and everything. Little did I know that after studying religion in a university setting for four full years I would leave with even more questions, and still very little answers.
In the years after university I became quite busy with my career and raising a family, which seems to be the experience for many people. Learning took a backseat as I became more an more immersed in the roles and obligations I'd created in my every day living. At some point years later I came across the Radiant Child Yoga training and decided to take level 1-3. My intention was simply to learn to share yoga with my own children.
I had been practicing yoga for at least 15 years at that point, frequenting Ashtanga classes at the local community center, Vinyassa and Hatha classes at various yoga studios and attending a few "family yoga" sessions with my children. As I mentioned I also held a B.A. with a specialty in Eastern Religion and so was well versed in the philosophy and culture associated with yoga. Despite all of that, I had never heard of "Kundalini Yoga" before, nor had I dove into studying the yoga teachings, or thought about how to teach them to others before.
Attending RCY Level 1-3 the first time around was a life changing experience. It opened my eyes to what working with children on a soul to soul level could look like. After (and through) this training I also quickly discovered a newfound joy and purpose in my life. At the same time, since the material was so new to me it was slightly overwhelming. At times I found myself mulling over one of the topics that I found fascinating only to discover I had zoned out and missed another topic. My body was also physically very uncomfortable sitting on the floor for that length of time as I was not accustomed to it, and the physical discomfort got in the way of some of the learning as well. My teacher Jyoti was mindful of this and had us up moving regularly and as much as possible, but still by the end of the third day I was more focused on the stiffness in my lower back and shoulders than I was on the teachings.
After completing this training I discovered a strong and seemingly insatiable taste for more yoga trainings! I realized that what I had been missing in my academic study was the opportunity to take the teachings, put them into practice, internalize them, and experience them in a personal and profound manner. I continued on to take Hatha workshops, Chakra workshops and attend women's gatherings as often as possible. I completed two separate 200-hour yoga teacher trainings (Radiant Child Yoga and the Kundalini Yoga TT). I studied Akara Numerology in depth. Most importantly I made a conscious effort to take the teachings I was being taught and apply them in my daily life and practice.
After all of this further training I was blessed with the opportunity to retake the RCY Level 1-3 course that sparked my interest in studying yoga in depth in the first place. On the surface it may have seemed silly to retake a course I had already completed. Some asked me why I would be retaking an introductory course after all the further and in-depth study I had had already, and after all the practical experience I had accumulated. In some ways I wondered about these questions myself, but what I soon learned is that even though the training would be the same, I was different. Therefore my experience of the training would be different... I was right!!
What I learned about the second time around:
While attending the training the first time around my mind was overloaded, as was my heart. The second time around I was able to absorb the teachings with ease. I felt less tired and better able to focus. Since I had more experience now attending yoga trainings and physically sitting on the floor for longer periods of time my body was comfortable and this allowed my mind to work better.
Instead of frantically trying to scribble down notes, recording everything the teacher said in order not to forget, I was able to relax and enjoy the experience of being immersed in the teachings in the present moment: only stopping occasionally to jot down important points that I had not considered the first time around.
On the practical side I was reminded of some of the songs and exercises in the program that I had not remembered from the first time around and as such have never used in my classes. The "Yoga-Jacks" to the song "I've Got Peace Like a River" in particular is my new found favourite. After taking the training the second time I was able to bring some fresh new material back to the children in my yoga classes. I was also able to learn from the other students taking the training and incorporate their tips and ideas in my classes upon returning home.
To sum up, if you find a training you love. Complete the training. Put the training into practice. Wait a few years. Take the training again! From my experience you will get just as much benefit from the course (if not more) the second time around.
I'm back from my weekend away and settling back in. Time for the next declutter your home and mind challenge. This week's challenge is to clean out your cleaning supplies! It is becoming more and more clear how many harmful chemicals are lurking in the cleaning products in our cupboard. Time to clean up our health and clean up our environment by cleaning OUT these products!
Hand-me-downs are one thing I actually advocate storing and saving. For one: saving clothes from our older kids to pass down to the younger kids, and accepting hand-me-downs from other families, makes it possible to raise a large family without going broke. Equally important is the benefit for our planet. It seems wasteful to me to purchase an entire new wardrobe for each child in every season. Saving money on clothing allows our family to have wonderful vacations and adventures that we may not be able to enjoy if we were not living frugally.
Books are my biggest weakness when it comes to living minimally. I love books, and I love holding onto and re-reading books. Certain books I have I've read 5 times cover to cover. Others I reference constantly. Still others I've been carrying around for years waiting for the perfect time to read (or re-read them). Over the past couple years I've made real progress limiting the amount of books in the house, mostly by cutting back on how many I buy, and making better use of the library. 2018 is also the year to begin purging!
Since this is my first blog post I will give you a bit of background about myself.
12 years ago my husband and I bought our first home. It was a huge 4 bedroom, 4 story home in a completely renovated 100 year old farm house.
It met all our criteria: enough rooms that we could each have an office, as well as a spare bedroom. It was also in the country, on a 17 acre property.
As an added bonus one bedroom was in the converted attic on the top floor. I was working from home and it was important to me to have a division between "work" and "home" so I loved that we had an entire floor dedicated only to my office.
Fast forward 12 years and we are now the proud parents to 5 amazing children and still have our same dog and cat as when we moved in. Needless to say home offices and personal space in our huge home are a thing of the past (and possibly future).
In the present however (despite our best efforts) we are overflowing with stuff.
My stuff. Husband's stuff. Kid stuff (x5). Pet's stuff. Toy stuff. Winter stuff. Summer stuff.
Skating stuff. Yoga stuff. Game stuff. Cooking stuff. Cleaning stuff. stuff Stuff STUFF!!
Over the past few years I've become increasingly aware of the link between our external environment and our internal environment.
At first I began noticing how our thoughts and internal patterns affected our external environments, the experiences we attracted to ourselves, our ability to move through life with ease, or not. Simply put... what we think is what we get.
After awhile it became evident that this process works in both directions. The external environment also affects our internal workings, our peace and ability to maintain a positive state of mind.
My personal yoga practice has been developing and evolving over the past 20 years since I attended my first class as a teenager. Over these years I've been constantly working on "Making Space".
This idea can mean many things in yoga:
For 2018 my goal is to clear space in my physical environment, the place where I live, work and love. By cleaning out my home I hope to feel reciprocal effects within my body and mind.
Cindy Stewart is a mom of 5, wife, daughter and owner of Sunbeam Yoga. She is an RYT and has a passion for sharing yoga with children.