At the end of January I was laid off from my 9-5 desk job in downtown San Francisco. Some people would be really upset about such a big life change, but for me it was an opportunity. Not only was I miserable working at a desk at a job where I had no passion, but I also wanted to commit to teaching more yoga at Baptiste Yoga San Francisco. My teachers kept asking me, “When are you going to Level One?” So when I lost my job, I realized I could go!
So I did. And these are my biggest takeaways:
- When you’re not sweating, you’re crying (or both): When I was getting ready to leave, I told most of my friends that I was going to a “yoga retreat,” mid-way through the first day I realized my “retreat” was beginning to look a lot more like a boot-camp. We woke up at 6:30 with packed days full of extremely difficult sweaty asana practices and in depth discussions that dove into the deepest parts of my heart. When I wasn’t sweating during practice with 160 bodies, I was crying with and for the people who were bravely sharing their stories of pain and perseverance. Through their sharing, I got to heal parts of myself that I hadn’t accessed in a long time. At the beginning of the week, these people were just faces in a crowd. By the end, it was as if everyone’s masks had been pulled off to show their individual beauty. Each day felt like a week because it brought new challenges and discoveries that would normally take months.
- You really are ready now: Several incidents happened when I was younger that made me socially awkward and I created a fictional story for myself that I am worthless. When Baron asked us to think of a lie we tell ourselves it was easy for me to recall my statement. Before our discussion I was talking to a friend at lunch about my “lie” and explained as just something that I have always told myself and probably always will, it had become so normal to me that I didn’t even think of it as a problem. During the discussion we had to go say our “lie” and our new truth (a statement that counteracted the lie) to all of our peers. So many people had the EXACT same lie as me and it was eye opening to see people who I thought were extraordinary thought of themselves negatively. It made me realize that if I believe those people shouldn’t think of themselves in that way I probably shouldn’t either. Since I have been home the role of my lie in my life has become far more apparent to me. Sometimes it is easy to remind myself of my new truth, but other times it is yelling so loud I have a hard time hearing anything else and it takes longer to quiet. But I think with time my lie will slowly dissipate to be replaced with my new truth that I can be loved.
- You learn the most from the people you like the least: Since Level One, I have been thinking a lot about how resistance shows up in my life. I feel it when I am in Warrior II for a long time and my left hips starts yelling. I feel it when I procrastinate my responsibilities, like writing this article or cleaning my room. And when I have to face feelings that are difficult or complicated. While I was in Sedona, I felt very resistant towards Baron. So much so that it made me question my Baptiste Training and the Institute as a whole. I asked myself questions like, “Is this really what I want to do?” As a result, I was forced to look seriously at what I want my intentions to be. I began to question all of my training and whether or not I was making the right decision for myself; it basically turned my world upside down. Before Level One, I would ignore these feelings by not saying anything and trying to process through it on my own. Instead, I decided to face my fears and tell Baron how I was feeling, like ripping off a bandaid. I felt immediate relief. Through being honest with myself and Baron, I was able to see what I was feeling as a reaction rather than an absolute. And because I had more clarity I was able to separate my opinions feelings about him and the Methodology/Baptiste Institute as a whole. Also, I was able to get the most out of the training because I was not walking around with a block; I had said what I was feeling and I moved on. Now I understand that I don’t have time to dance around issues. It is not worth my emotional sanity over something that can easily be taken care of through honest communication. Go figure! This realization is truly liberating!
Level One has been life changing in ways that were unexpected and in ways that I am still trying to work through and interpret. Not only was I able to unwind emotional barriers, but also I have deepened my practice and have a new confidence in leading my classes that I did not have before. It would not have been possible without my studio owners, Jen and Sean, and the people who were at program. I am excited to be able to continue my teaching and learning with my community; this is just the beginning.
Bo Outland is a teacher at Baptiste Yoga San Francisco.