A Yoga TT Application

David Rush


I just finished writing my application for an Exhale Yoga TT this October. It ended up being quite a lot of text which I thought might serve well as a more detailed self-introduction for when I do start teaching yoga, so I have copied it over to the blog format to share it with you.

1  What is your intention of taking this Y.T.T.?

I am not so sure how this answer should differ from some of the later answers concerning my vision for the aftermath of TT. Nevertheless, at the most basic level, I suppose my intention would be to grow past the fear I have of leading a class. Its a strange thing though, and twisted up with a couple other personality quirks. I really hate people following my lead just because it is me telling them. It’s a fear thing; and I deeply fear the consequences of being wrong. Or to put it into asana terms: I don’t mind falling out of handstand one bit; but I am petrified of giving instructions to someone who then falls.

2  Why do you want to train with Meghan Currie?

Firstly, because Meghan Currie teaches yoga the way that I used to lead music in church. I feel a natural affinity with both her language and style, both from the seminars where I have practiced with her, and from the CodyApp videos she has recently released.

Secondly, because my own teacher (since 2010 - see below) suggested that I specifically look into taking TT with Meghan Currie this year. Now we both are quite enamored of the way she teaches, so it was not entirely out of the blue; but at the time of the suggestion, I had been persuading myself that I should focus on taking my own practice as far as I could outside of the teaching context.

Thirdly, the more I read about Exhale TT from your web site, the more it resonated with what I had already felt like I needed out of a TT. That Meghan Currie should be part of that alchemy is unsurprising and an added blessing. I am pleased that you have additional specialists on call for anatomy and philosophy because it tells me you respect the material and take it seriously. This is not flattery, folks. It was (and still is) one of those “I’m afraid to believe this could be as good as it sounds” things.

3  How long have you consistently practiced yoga

You’d think this question at least would be easy to answer, but first there is the problem of defining “yoga”. In the widest possible definition, I have been practicing yoga since my teens; first in an ill-informed shamanic/tantric way, and then later in the christian bhakti tradition (one of the songs on my first compilation of nominally “christian” music was, in fact, titled Bhakti). In 2004 I had something of a “spontaneous” kundalini rising experience, which, if less mind-shattering than when I was “born-again” (in 1984) through my familiarity with spiritual and energetic practice, was more difficult to handle because of my life circumstances. The years since have been difficult, but over the last couple of years a certain stability appears to have returned.

So probably one answer to this question is since 2004, when I began trying to find a larger frame to fit my experience, and a consistent practice to embody important connections. At the time I was introduced to neo-pagan practice, with which I still feel an affinity, but that is a difficult road to walk as a solitary practitioner. Somewhere in 2005 I started practicing asana occasionally, from books, as a way to explore the energetic systems of the body, and it was definitely in early 2006 that I attended my first actual yoga class. It was early 2009 before I began to practice regularly with a teacher, and I found my current teacher in early 2010.

So perhaps you can see why I find answering this question less than straightforward. Yoga is far more than asana, and looked at that way, I have been practicing a long time. Looked at through the lens of asana, it has been a gradual progression that continues to this day. Even though it started 10 years ago, I was hardly serious or consistent about asana in the early years.

4  What style(s) of yoga do you practice?

Hatha yoga and jnana yoga primarily - at least these days. I kind of broke my bhakti bone in the early noughties. Looking forward to the rest of my kids finally leaving home, I can see that my practice will be changing, though.

As far as asana practice goes, my main practice would be a firmly rooted in the ashtanga/vinyasa tradition; however it is strongly informed by Iyengar and the alignment principles of Anusara. In our small group practice, we tend to work on alignment and how it relates to each individual’s anatomy.

5  Do you have any other experience with another mindfulness / movement / healing practice?

Not at all in the way that yoga would fall into that description. In university, and for a short time (total is probably no more than 4 years, on and off) thereafter, I studied modern dance, and practiced it in a church worship context. There are analogies, but they are distant ones.

6  In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good yoga teacher?

A good yoga teacher is able to communicate her experience of yoga to students in a way that inspires them to progress on their own path, but hopefully with a bit more wisdom, safety, and finesse than she had.

That sentence took me a week to write. I think I will leave it as sufficient.

7  Do you intend to be a yoga teacher?

Yes. At the least, I couldn’t justify spending the money to do this training if I didn’t have a plan for recouping the investment. Ultimately though, I would prefer to be able to offer the teaching for free, even if it is not clear how to do that while upholding the value of the practice itself.

8  If you want to teach, what type of yoga class do you envision yourself teaching?

A fully integrated class - including asana, meditation, and satsang. I was (and still am) interested in the Jivamukti approach for this reason; however, I am less certain that the Jivamukti vibe suits me. As far as asana style goes, I tend towards a slow vinyasa practice: it takes time for the body to open up and time for the mind to let the body have control; but life is motion, and the motion from one thing to another is generally where the difficulties lie.

9  Why do you want to be a yoga teacher?

I don’t want to “be” a yoga teacher. The most I can say is that I want to help people learn what is needful for them to be fully present in life - and I think that teaching asana is a good place to stand ready to help.

That’s the (almost) glib answer, anyway. The truth is that there are a lot of reasons for me to try and step into this place. Some are light, some are in the light, some are hidden, some are dark. The problem of introspection looms large here: who - ever - truly knows their own motivations to the last degree? I know that teaching, both mundane and spiritual, is one of those life tasks that keeps returning to me, and I am going to have to keep trying until I feel I can do it well. I am seriously frightened at the prospect of having people look to me as having a clue - even on something so simple as a foot adjustment - but i feel miserly if I hold back given the depth of experience I have had through the years. My hope would be to stand at the door with a map for those who might want it.

10  What are your expectations of this Y.T.T.?

I expect to have to work hard and in a focussed way. In any case, intensive study is really the only way I can approach an undertaking of this size, as my day-job tends to take up unpredictable amounts of my attention over longer periods of time. On that note, I would also hope to reset my brain a bit from the super-logical computer programming space I have had to inhabit for most of the last six or seven years. I hope to navigate the fact that I will be under evaluation with more grace than I usually do; honoring my desire to reach perfection while respecting the limits of my body. I am expecting a chance to learn deeply, through repeated exposure, from someone I consider to be among the best asana teachers and communicators of the yoga experience.

11  What do you hope to learn in this Y.T.T.?

I hope to learn how to communicate my experience of yoga; through asana practice, but also through heart-centered speaking (not that it can be taught, but it can be “caught” and practiced). I hope to learn to communicate the mechanics of an asana practice clearly enough that no-one who wants to stay safe will get injured on my watch.

I also hope to acquire a little bit of understanding of how community can work in the yoga world. Having come from an evangelical christian background - which is all about community - the yoga focus on the individual was, at first, a welcome relief; however, it still feels to me like something is missing from the practice. Mostly I blame the studio system, which needs to move people through the doors just to keep the space available, but still I wonder.

12  What do you hope you achieved after the completion of the program?

A graceful press handstand → crow → chaturanga → DD flow would be nice :)

But seriously, completing the program will be enough. I started another TT with Vinyasa Flow Ireland, and had to stop due to the press of events. Just making it through will help me feel like I have finished this thing I set out to do - and that I understand myself well enough to know how to do such a thing.

I would also like to do well by whatever evaluation system you use, but I feel like that desire may make me prone to over-reaching. There are aspects of teaching yoga which are well out of my comfort zone, and I expect challenges to long-held beliefs about myself, and my abilities.

13  Do you have a home (personal) yoga practice?

Yes, although it varies quite a lot throughout the year. The variation seems to fit well with the rhythm of the seasons here in Ireland. Currently I am trying to be particularly disciplined with my asana practice in preparation for a 200 hour intensive, but it is difficult to find time and space between workplace demands, a 4-hour commute, and family time.

14  Have you done any other trainings? If yes, what was the name, how many hours and was it Yoga Alliance Certified?

As I mentioned previously, I worked through the first 100 hours of a YA-certified 200 hour course with David Curtis of Vinyasa Yoga, here in Ireland. Dropping out was a very difficult decision, and I still am not quite sure it was the right decision. At the time it seemed important to recognize that I was in over my head (seriously, during that year: my wife left, my research funding dried up, my day-job went into crisis overtime for about 6 months, the office was re-located eating my remaining free time with commuting, and on and on). I now think of it just as the decision that I made, even though I still feel the need to justify it.

15  Do you practice meditation and pranayama?

Yes, but not as regularly as my asana practice and under less-than-ideal conditions. In saying that I mean that I often find myself in the position of practicing meditation while preparing for bed. Bed usually wins. Even so, often when I meditate away from bedtime, I still fall asleep: chronic sleep-deprivation is a long-standing facet of my life that I have yet been unable to correct.

I find pranayama practice to be particularly challenging because what I know of it seems rather random and arbitrary. Mind you I have learned a few things that do seem to help in various immediately pressing circumstances. However, I haven’t yet made the connection where I see how a long-term, regular pranayama practice can help my growth.

16  What areas of yoga challenge you the most?

Ahimsa and santosha are a problem, and I would perceive my lack of the latter as a contributing difficulty to the former. That I tend to be very harsh with myself only exacerbates the difficulty, leading to situations where I try to bend the world to my will. Being more open and proactive with my desires seems to help, but this is an ongoing process.

Maintaining balance. This would be in pretty much everything from balancing pratyahara against dharana in meditation, through tapas against santosha in everything, to standing on one leg. There is something in me that prefers the static equilibrium of strength from a well-grounded base to the dynamic process of balance on energetic support. On some level I find it hard to trust my body to do the right thing without constant monitoring from the head office (so to speak). In more subtle activities, an analogy would be allowing the self to experience without the ego keeping it all running.

On a bit of an odd note regarding asana practice, in addition to standing balances, I find seated postures and core work very challenging. I have long suspected that this comes from childhood habits of diaphragmatic breathing established through voice training.

17  What areas of yoga do you find easier?

Tapas is practically my middle name, and bringing intensity to the practice has rarely been a problem. In a similar way, svadhyaya comes so naturally to me that I find meditation a necessary antidote to my running commentary of introspection. Together these have made asana practice into quite a bit of fun; exploring the capabilities of my body allows these facilities room to work without the burden of moral judgement at each moment. In particular, I really love inversions, arm balances, back bends, and twists. Hip openers are also a lot of fun, but some of them come much more easily than others do.

Additionally, given my background of spiritual practice in other traditions, there is little in yoga philosophy that I haven’t already encountered. This is both blessing and curse, as details of teachings tend to blur together, even though I generally find understanding quickly.

18  Do you have any Medical/Health Conditions?

I have terrible vision, and require glasses to see with any kind of clarity.

19  Do you have any injuries?

Mostly just the usual wear and tear you’d find in an active 50-year-old body.

I was also electrocuted in April, 2002, and I have various movement anomalies related to those injuries. I mostly know how to work around the issues, but I am still learning. Asana practice has actually been a rather large help in recovering the full range of motion in my right shoulder and arm, as well as restoring sensation in my left leg.

This document was translated from LATEX by HEVEA.