The Secret Magic of Yoga Teacher Training by Rachelle Rahn (YTT Cohort 1)
Apparently, in second grade I wrote a note to myself in my yearbook. This note from my 8-year old self sat in my yearbook for decades, eventually forgotten about by my future self…until the other night when my partner and I decided to exchange old yearbooks and look at them for fun.
My partner and I both erupted in laughter upon discovering this note. After the laughs subsided, the memories flooded my brain. I remember writing that note. Growing up, my mom and I moved around quite a bit. From kindergarten to high school I had attended fourteen different schools. In second grade, my friends and I had a big falling out. I don’t remember what it was about, I just remember how I felt. I was devastated and sad, and spent the last couple of months of that school year sitting alone at lunch and talking to my teacher during recess. When the yearbooks came out and the classrooms and hallways quickly filled with chatter and excitement as kids passed them around collecting signatures, I was suddenly very aware of my lack of friends. This was also one of the rare accounts when my mom had enough money to buy me a yearbook. Second grade Rachelle was very aware of the uniqueness of the financial situation, and in an effort to not waste it signed her own yearbook! She took up the WHOLE page, the front cover even! Her little fingers were moving so swiftly, she didn’t even have time to spell her own name right the first time around. Eight year old Rachelle was just fine and dandy with no one wanting to sign her yearbook, she was going to get the only signature that mattered, her own.
So why does this ridiculous note mean anything to me decades later, and what does it have to do with yoga teacher training? At YTT last month we focused on anatomy and meditation. A key theme kept coming up for me, awareness. During anatomy classes we talked about bringing awareness to certain parts of the body and during meditation we talked about bringing awareness to our thoughts. All of it seemed very obvious. This is where something that I don’t know how else to describe other than the “secret magic of yoga teacher training” came in. Suddenly, I had an “Aha!” moment. I’m not sure how Hilary, or HGYS, creates these moments of deeper understanding when you least expect it, but it just happens - over and over again.
To summarize my “Aha!” moment: I have always known that I am a giant stress ball, but I did not know that my mental chatter was the most stressful part of my own existence. Practicing daily meditation created a pause in my habitual negative self-talk. This brief and fleeting pause, along with yoga teacher training, helped me to become aware of this negative, limiting and anxiety-inducing self-talk. So, situation assessed, problem found, but now what? Well, this adult Rachelle is going to take a page out of 8-year old Rachelle’s book, or yearbook, and I’m going to learn how to be my own bestest friend again.
My child self did not know that I was going to eventually be diagnosed with severe endometriosis, a disease that would take over my body and create episodes of debilitating pain. She also didn’t know that she wasn’t going to be her own best friend anymore. And not only that, but she was going to start saying awful things to herself, and eventually view her own body as the enemy.
When I first started meditating it was solely through obligation--it is a requirement of being in the yoga teacher training program. To be honest, I hated it. My back ached and I could never quiet down my thoughts, and every second felt like an eternity. I attempted to trust in the process. ( I apologize to my cohort if you’re wondering who is always squirming and making noise during our group meditations - it’s me!) Fast forward 7 months, and now I meditate for the pause, to be the observer. It doesn’t happen every time and occasionally my back still hurts, but every now and again for a very brief moment in time I can find a break in the negative self-talk and the chaotic thoughts and emotions.
I haven’t achieved enlightenment or an all-knowing awareness. My anxiety isn’t cured and I still catch myself saying things to myself that I would never say to my best friend, however, at least I’m aware of it. And, I can change the things I’m aware of. I am getting to know my body again, no longer viewing it as the enemy. Instead of letting my disease physically and mentally destroy me, instead I am discovering the wonders of my amazing mind and body.
In an apprehensive effort of living my truth, with a sense of potential comedic regret, I’d like to share a letter from my current self to my current self:
Thank you for existing.
Thank you for not giving in to endometriosis.
Thank you for breaking the cycle of poverty and addiction in your family.
Thank you for always finding the good in the bad.
Thank you for forgiving yourself when you can’t.
Look at what your body can do despite endometriosis. How strong and powerful that is!
Look at what your mind can do despite the anxiety and depression.
You are not your endometriosis. You are not your anxiety or your depression.
You are my bestest friend.
A million gratitudes,
P.S. You’re also very pretty and smart and competent and I’m sorry for all of the lies I’ve told you implying otherwise. Also, please forgive yourself and forget about the time you accidentally told your 3rd grade teacher, Mr. Just, “bye, love you!” instead of just saying goodbye.