Relax, Let Go, and Arrive by Amanda Imes (YTT Cohort 1)

eI can’t afford YTT right now.

I’m way too busy; I don’t have time for YTT.

I already have a good understanding of yoga and a regular practice, do I need YTT?

I read Brene Brown and Tich Nhat Hanh, isn’t that basically the same thing?

But, I have been planning to go to {insert foreign country} for YTT.

I can’t get that much time off work!

I can always do YTT later. There’s no rush.

I am going to be SO TIRED at work on Monday mornings after training. I don’t think I can handle this.

But I have a {insert event like wedding/shower/party} one of the weekends on the schedule. I guess I’ll have to wait until next year.

After four years of making a long list of excuses NOT to attend Yoga Teacher Training, I learned about a brand new yoga school in Duluth and decided to take a leap of faith. Between registering and the actual first day of class though, there were months of waiting, coupled with anxiety and insecurity about the impending YTT. 

Years of resistance to YTT was a persistent little attitude to shake, a tick full and ripe after weeks of feeding off my monkey mind. I saw that coloring in a yoga anatomy book was part of one of our first assignments. I met this assignment with resistance, “But I don’t like coloring” I whined.

My resistance manifested itself right up until my arrival. Behind schedule and running late, I drove straight up one of the steepest hills in Duluth, gravel flying in my wake. I quickly slid into a parking spot, opened my door, and was shocked when my vehicle rapidly started to roll downhill. I quickly jammed the gear into “Park” and scrambled out.

As I trekked up several steps, I felt some of my resistance give way to curiosity as I took in the prayer flags fluttering from the staircase, gardens sprawling across seemingly every square inch, and the brightly colored tapestry curtains hanging in the yoga room.

Approaching the door, I could see more prayer flags zig-zagging a backyard full of more gardens, a chicken coop, and an imaginative treehouse any child would envy. As someone who once skipped a week of school to build a treehouse with my Dad, a little bit more of the resistance gave way to curiosity.

I entered the practice space and found several nervous faces huddled near a roaring wood fire stove sipping tea.  We exchanged brief introductions. I felt my heart rate begin to slow.

To begin morning asana, we stepped into the yoga room. Up on the hill, all of Duluth sprawled out before us, the buildings like little heads all sitting in a stadium watching the morning drama unfold on Lake Superior. Out the windows we could see thousands of little ice floes forming intricate swirling patterns on the surface of the water while large masses of ice still hugged the beaches at Park Point--winter starting to give way to spring.

I settled into my mat beneath a cozy blanket. I found my breath. As we worked through our first practice together in our wool socks, my nerves and anticipation slowly sloughed away. I arrived. This was really happening.

We spent the weekend moving, breathing, learning about one another and the history of this practice that has become so integral to my little life.

We spent our breaks and lunch periods practicing Seva- selfless service- around HGYS. We gathered eggs, fed the bunnies, and delighted in watching the chickens. Sunday afternoon we all worked together to clear out dead leaves that have been rotting in the gardens all winter. With all of us working together, we made quick work of clearing the gardens. We admired each little green sprout we discovered beneath the rotting leaves. The will to sprout and grow despite the grimy buildup of months beneath snow were a powerful reminder that all it takes is a little sunshine for new life to stretch out.

Over the weekend I reflected on my resistance. Why was I so willing to stand in my own way? Why was it so difficult for me to simply relax, let go, and arrive?

Often, we are own biggest obstacle. We build up walls, we make excuses, we form judgements, and we resist change and growth. It can be so easy to let inertia keep us rooted in our familiar trajectory. It takes energy to veer off in a new, unexpected direction.

I am so thankful I got out of my own way. It may have taken me four years, several months of anxiety and stress, and a lot of insecurity- but I did it. I made it to Yoga Teacher Training. I remain curious about what might happen if I can continue to allow myself to ARRIVE. 

Amanda Imes is an economist for the State of Minnesota. She enjoys identifying lichens and goofing around in her spare time.


Hilary Buckwalter Kesti