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What I Learned from My Teacher Training Crisis

Alison Ottaway
November 5, 2012
Alison Ottaway
By Alison Ottaway
mbg Contributor
Alison is a coach, speaker, and founder of the Path Less Trodden.
November 5, 2012

You know those situations that instinctively seem like a good idea, but once you experience them you’re really not sure why you ever thought of doing them, and part of you just wants to run away?

I had one of those this past week. And it was here, on the first week of a Kundalini Teacher Training course.

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From the outside, the idea of training to teach Kundalini Yoga seemed a bit of a crazy move. I had NEVER done any Kundalini before deciding it was what I was supposed to do. Yeah, I’d done Hatha and Scaravelli and I had my own practice, which I did five days a week, but I had no idea what Kundalini was about.

And I had a busted knee: I tore my meniscus earlier this year. I wasn’t keen on having a second knee operation, so I was being gentle and looking after it.

And two days into the training, I was in shock. I’d not slept in a dorm for ages and wasn’t sleeping. I’d never done chanting. I’d not meditated for more than 15 minutes at a time and my body ached, ached, ached!

I started to think that I wasn’t in the right place.

I seriously thought about coming home.

I almost did…

But seven days later, having stayed the course and completed the first week of the training, I returned to my Italian home a different person. Looking back, I’m so glad I stayed. It changed me, expanded me, brought me so many things and I know the rest of the course, and the practice of Kundalini will continue to.

So what changed? How did I deal with this doubt and fear and turn it into an experience that has made me stronger, happier and more peaceful?

I decided to reach out and communicate. To share what I was feeling.

I spoke to the Yogi whose beautiful house I was staying in. I spoke what was true inside me, with honesty, even though it was hard and I just wanted to run away.

I said, "I don’t know if I’m in the right place." I said, "I’m worried about my knee." I said, "I’m not sleeping."

And from that moment, things shifted. I felt clear and grounded having spoken my truth. We found ways that my own needs could be met moving forwards. He reassured me about my knee and that gave me the confidence to be kind to myself. And he challenged me; repeating back to me my words that I had felt called to the training and inviting me to stay one more day and then decide.

So I stayed another day. And further and further into that day I felt calmer, more centered, and more peaceful. I felt happier to be on the journey that I was taking, with six other students from all over the world, challenging and developing ourselves with two ex-LA Yogis on the top of a hill in Umbria.

Here’s what my Kundalini crisis taught me:

Be true to yourself.

If you’re feeling something there’s a reason you are feeling it. Accept that and respect that. Your thoughts and feelings are valid.

Communicate and reach out. 

Talk to people, share, tell them what you are thinking, make yourself vulnerable. Nothing changes dynamics more.

Listen to your instincts. 

If something told you deep down to do something, yet there seem to be obstacles in the way, take a step back from the difficulty and remember how you felt when the idea came to you.

Don’t run at the first site of discomfort. 

This is true for yoga postures as well as every experience in life. Sometimes there will be discomfort. If you can learn to be tolerant to it you will invite the possibility for more change into your life.

With these 4 tenets you can traverse bumpy parts of anything you are doing, and decide – with truth, clarity, focus and grounding – if it is truly the right thing for you to do.

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Alison Ottaway
Alison Ottaway

Alison is a coach, speaker, and founder of the Path Less Trodden, which she was inspired to create after changing her life and losing 140 pounds. Follow her work on Facebook or Twitter.