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I went into Level One like I knew exactly what to expect. It seemed like the next logical step in my yoga practice: I had recently graduated a 200-hour training, I was working as a teacher in a dynamic studio and contributing as a leader in my yoga community. I had everything all lined up. My personal life looked pretty great too: My wife and I had just bought a new home and we were managing a major renovation project. Life seemed great. Life was great! I thought I was totally ready for Level One. I had it all figured out.
And then I got to Level One.
That week at Menla, I had a good look at what was right in front of me all along but I just hadn’t noticed. Level One offered me a look at how I spent a lot of my life pushing people away. Once I saw that, I started connecting with people. I felt closer to the other participants each day, through practices, in partner activities, and in small group sessions. Since Level One, one of the greatest gifts I brought home is my ability to be present, to connect with the people in my life. Especially my children. I now know how to pause and be with my daughter when she asks me to color. And to be with my son when he brings me books to read for him. I see so clearly that those moments–and every moment– are it: my opportunity to simply be present with him. In each instance, nothing else matters.
I also realized how obsessive I could be with wanting to have things all figured out. This was a wide-eyed “a-ha moment” where I learned to lighten up and bring ease to my expectations. Once I got that, Level One was a lot more fun! Every day there were more smiles, laughs, and even jokes. Since program, I find joy in little things throughout my day. At work, I smile at situations that used to really push my buttons. I step up as a leader. I am more playful in my yoga practice, exploring the possibilities in poses throughout the sequence. And the greatest feedback I get from people after I teach yoga is that their practice was “light.” That for that moment, life didn’t have to be so serious.
The training gave me the courage to be the person I want to be and the awareness to tune into what matters. I used to think that I had to prove something before I could live the life I wanted. At program, I found proof that I am “ready now,” and there’s no reason to wait. Now, because of Baptiste Yoga, I’m more committed than ever. Thanks to Level One, I am putting my intentions into action. I know I’m ready now. I’ve been there. I’ve got the T-shirt.
Travis-Michael Farrell is a student and teacher at Grace & Glory Yoga in Northfield, NJ. He loves crunchy food and drinks black coffee.