The second cohort of YTT's have begun their seven week journey to becoming yogi at Krishna Village. I've been thinking about their collective and individual journeys with a heart full of love, and remembering how tough those first couple of weeks were. So here are my top ten tips for the new YTTs to not just survive, but thrive.
1. This is a marathon not a sprint. There is a lot of yoga ahead, and you need to pace your body. Steadily do your 50 classes and rest when your body tells you to. Do what you can on the mat, not what everyone else can do. Commit to breaking up with comparison right now.
2. At some point you will question what you are doing here, and if its the right decision. Just surrender to the experience and the divine timing, and know that you have a place on the mat as a teacher, no matter where you are in your practice, you will make a difference. This is the right time, and the right place, with the right people. Right!
3. Go to bed early. Get up early. Do your journaling daily, do your pranayama daily, start your personal yoga practice daily, learn your sanskrit daily. As you work through the yamas and niyamas remember that growth comes with tapasya - and by doing the practice you are fulfilling your dharma, and it takes effort and repetition to get some new grooves in your neural pathways.
4. Turn up on time. Its tempting as the weeks go by to get a little sloppy, to miss classes or roll in late as you work through your stuff. Don't give yourself the option to opt out. The good and the tough days are all the same when it comes to learning about ourselves. Respect and revere the teachers and your peers by being there - and being present.
5. Be a truth speaker. Truth speaking is a gift, it can free people from second guessing situations, and it honours you and the recipient. Don't wait for someone else to ask the question, and don't simmer over discontent. But speak truth with compassion, and first be sure that you aren't acting out your own emotional patterns on another.
6. YTT is hard. Emotionally, spiritually and physically. It can bring out the worst of your inner monologue, and bring up a lot of past issues and hurts you have tucked away. Celebrate this! You are releasing the things you don't need and making space for your yogi to shine. Just acknowledge what is happening but don't be attached to it.
7. Wave goodbye to your comfort zone. Whenever you feel really pushed beyond, which everyone does when they are asked to do new activities, just shut down the fear and jump in. Of course you can do it, and will do so in your own way with your own style - whatever that looks like.
8. Recognise your teachers. At some point during the seven weeks you will get pissed off - with someone, or something and it may well bend you a little out of shape. Say hello to your new teacher - as this person or situation is a mirror for your own issues and patterns, and you should push extra love and compassion into them and it as you stand steadily and look into yourself.
9. Immerse yourself in devotion. Asana is just one arm of yoga. The end of the game is (as you of course know) ishvara pranidhan, devotion to the divine. That divine is YOU, the god, guru and self as one. You are there to connect with the great divinity in all of us, and practicing that joyful devotion every conscious moment of the YTT will transform your experience and you.
10. Give love. To you! You freakin hero - look at what you are doing, its amazing and life changing and you will, in your own perfect time, change the world with the intention of your yogi life. So enjoy every part of this spectacular life you are creating. You got this. Namaste!
Dr Polly McGee is one part writer, and many parts assorted thinker, do-er, talker, eater, chef, explorer, yogi, kirtaneer and dog wrangler. She has worked in kitchens, bars and restaurants from frantic to fancy, managed multi-million dollar innovation grants programs, advised hundreds of start-ups on how to refine their business ideas and source funding, and championed causes from a variety of soapboxes, lecterns and stages. She is currently the Strategic Marketing Lead for Global Edtech Startup Prosper Education. Her new book, The Good Hustle, is coming out in February 2018