Hello! Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Kirstin Pinit. I’m an artist, a student of yoga and Ayurveda, and a Yoga Health Coach. I’ve joined the Santosha staff as the writer-in-residence, and am excited to be here to share yoga wisdom and happenings with the Santosha community.
September was the third anniversary of the start of my Yoga Teacher Training (TT) at Santosha. Since a new cohort of teachers in training have just begun their TT journey, I thought I’d make my first post a reflection on what I learned from studying at Santosha and with dina.
Teach What You Are Learning
I remember the first day of TT and dina said we would be teaching right away. I felt the anxiety rise in my body, my mouth got a little dry. Gulp. Teach? But, I’m a student! I’m here to learn!
Turns out that yes, yoga teachers must teach, and teach we did. We got into a circle and took turns teaching the next step of the sun salutation. Then we began teaching single poses. Soon we could teach a little sequence, and eventually, we taught whole classes. Teaching was not always easy, but I never felt unprepared or unsupported. There is so much wisdom in the experience of “teach what you are learning.”
When you teach you:
Whether you are a TT student, or you are acquiring new skills or knowledge in other areas of your life, find ways to teach it, and see how your learning becomes deeper and more vibrant.
Freedom Through Surrender
I am enchanted by yoga vocabulary and the pronunciation of Sanskrit words. One of my favorites of the Niyamas is Isvara Pranidhana. Once I figured out how to say it, it rolled around in my head, and eventually found its way down to my heart.
Isvara Pranidhana is to surrender to the divine, relinquish the ego, and open up to our higher purpose. This was an important teaching for me, for as I was finishing my teacher training, I was also starting a new job. My work became so consuming that my yoga practice all but disappeared. Can you imagine spending 20+ hours a week doing yoga, and then suddenly … not doing even a few hours a month?
My infidelity to yoga made me feel guilty, ashamed, and sad. This did not help me to reclaim my practice! Eventually, I allowed myself to surrender my ego’s expectations for my yoga practice, which lightened the burden I was feeling. In time, I began to practice again. I surrendered further to my higher purpose, and radically changed my work so that I could live in closer alignment to my dharma. This took years not months, and I continue to surrender over and over to keep taking the next step on my path to knowing my true self.
Yoga is Always Here
When my practice is strong, yoga is strong. But when I am out of sync with getting to class or practicing at home, yoga is also strong. Yoga is always here.
When I first started practicing yoga - maybe fifteen years ago - all I knew were the poses. My yoga was tangible: I went to class, followed the leader, rested in Savasana, and went on my way. My yoga practice at this time was building my self confidence and body awareness. Over time, I was exposed to all eight limbs of yoga - so much more than asana! Yoga is a way of life, a guide for living fully and freely. Now my yoga practice builds on that self confidence and body awareness to help me find deeper levels of spiritual awareness and glimpses of non-identification and freedom and joy.
Learning yoga on the mat is a portal to understanding the fullness of yoga - the ethic of non-harming; our accountability to moral behavior and cultivating divine consciousness, nonattachment, and focus; our duty to the practice and refinement of concentration; our path to complete absorption - Samadhi. It has been important for me to find out that asana is not the only portal, and that my time in meditation is yoga. My time with my family or community is yoga. My time in nature is yoga. Yoga is always here.
Learning, Teaching - What’s the Difference?
True teachers are always learning, and earnest students are willing to share what they know. This relationship of giving and receiving is what makes a strong community. Santosha is a place for students and teachers to be together in supportive community where we practice all eight limbs of yoga and support our collective journey toward oneness.
To the new TT class, and to all students - this is a welcoming place for you to learn and grow. May you find moments of clarity, grace, and love within this community.
This or something better.
Author: Kirstin Pinit
Kirstin is Santosha’s writer-in-residence. She is an artist, a student of yoga, Ayurveda, and massage therapy, and she is a Yoga Health Coach. Kirstin practices and teaches the habits of yogis - dinacharya. This is the Ayurvedic practice of daily habits that are essential for leading a vibrant, healthy, creative life. Find out about her upcoming courses and collaborations at kirstinpinit.com
Santosha Yoga studio offers a yoga teacher training program each fall and requires those accepted into the program to complete community service, known as karma yoga, during their four month training.
Santosha Yoga’s co-owner, Dina Lang, created and leads the 200 hour Initial Yoga Teaching Certification program and she felt strongly that every teacher trainee (TT) needs to give back to the community and created the requirement of Karma Yoga. As Dina explains, “it can be anything in which they are offering selfless service and expecting nothing in return, even recognition.”
Twenty two graduates of Dina’s yoga teacher training completed their certification at the end of January. Since all of them had completed their selfless service, this adds up to 88 hours of good works and volunteering happened since the program began last September.
When asked why Karma Yoga is part of the Yoga Teacher Training, Dina explained, “I include karma yoga, selfless service, in my 200 Hour Initial Yoga Teaching Certification program because yoga philosophy teaches that this is the ultimate purpose of our very existence. So, to dedicate an hour a month to serving others expecting NOTHING in return, not even recognition, gives us a chance to experience yoga in action. To do what must be done with an open heart is what it means to take our practice off the mat."
The experience of this year’s training class varied in how they chose to give back to the local community. One group of four decided to go together to the Oregon Food Bank and donate their time there. Others gave their time through volunteering in their church or with local programs they are involved. The feedback was positive and comments often expressed gratitude for the encouragement to make the time to give back.
Katy Nadal, Santosha Yoga’s other co-owner, fully supports the karma yoga requirement. It’s something that sets the 200 hour Initial Yoga Teaching Certification with Dina Lang at Santosha Yoga apart from other studios. Not everyone knows what goes into a training experience. Some programs focus on the basics of memorizing poses, cues, and a basic sequence. However, programs like Dina’s at Santosha Yoga expand upon that to include yoga philosophy and history, selfless service, and that each TT teach one free hour long community class.
The Community Classes are a way for the TT to gain real experience teaching people and it’s a way for Santosha Yoga to bring yoga into the community without any financial barriers. As Katy says, about the program taught by Dina, “it is sending out new, well-trained yoga teachers into the community.”
If studying yoga or becoming a yoga teacher interests you, Santosha Yoga has the information posted for the 2016-2017 200 Hour Initial Yoga Teaching Certification on the website. Information sessions will be offered in April.
2016 Teacher Training Information