Reflections from Anita Kaital, graduate of the Tranquil Space 200 hour training in 2011. To find Anita online visit www.NuNCenter.com
Did you enter the program with the intention of teaching?
Being a Foreign Service officer, I entered the program with the intention of using my certification as a means to teach abroad and connect with the local community in a unique way, touch and contribute to others, and use teaching as a platform for raising money for charity. I now work in Cairo, Egypt and raised approximately $10,000 in a year and a half. Unfortunately, I had to return to DC on an ordered departure due to the unrest that is occurring there. It has forced me to practice one of the basic principles of yoga – non-attachment. Being told to move your life with a couple of days notice and putting all possessions in two suitcases definitely forces one to practice this principle. Leaving friends, job, yogis and yoginis that I’ve grown with through my teaching there for two years. I inhale in “let”, exhale “go”.
I actually started teaching during my TT200. As part of the TT200 program, we are required to teach karma classes. I took it beyond the minimum hours and committed to teaching an entire Spring semester at Seaton Elementary School in DC, teaching 2nd and 3rd graders…they were my greatest teachers.
Since graduating, I wrapped up teaching the kids at Seaton, and began teach a few times a week: chair, wheelchair and post-operative yoga for what I call “wisdom yogis” ages 80-100 years! Super awesome. Boy was this a new level that truly took me from “instructor” calling out postures and creating a flow for students to experience, and moving me into “teacher”, being present with my wisdom yogis, “being” with their “edge”, their bodies, minds and breath in union. I really got that. From then on my teaching and what I call my truth in my yoga practice evolved from self to others. Connecting myself with the student, this has evolved as my truth as a teacher. I take this off the mat, connecting in my relationships, work, on the street, with a spouse, stranger or friend. Teach is “my yoga”.
After I moved to Cairo in the Fall of 2011, I created classes at our Embassy and then finally happened across the “Nun Center” a holistic center in Cairo who’s goal is to connect with the cOMmunity to help visitors achieve balance in their daily lives, taking into account their emotional, mental, physical, and environmental needs. Within the walls of a beautiful villa in Zamalek, Cairo practitioners (homeopathy, body work, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture etc.) work with each person and contribute to their centering amid the challenges of modern life in Egypt. Until returning to the DC on “ordered departure” due to the fluid environment, I had been teaching five classes a week – Yoga foundations & restorative, Vinyasa Level 1.5 and Level 2. Eager to continue contributing to others, I’ve reconnected to Tranquil Space and help TA David Kidney’s class on Monday nights. I also have been teaching a few of the 4:30pm Charity Class on Wednesday at TS Dupont when there is an opportunity.
Have you completed any additional teacher trainings?
In addition to completing the TT200 class, I am certified in teaching children’s Ashtanga and continue to study yoga beyond only asana. I’ve take time to study at Kripalu and enjoyed experiencing what ashrams can offer in India. I am planning to return to Rishikesh to study in a formal Bhagavad Gita program at Parmarth Niketan Ashram. I hope to learn more, grow more, and find something to weave into my teaching.
Do you teach any aspect of yoga other than asana?
My classes are 75-90 min in length depending on the level. No class is only filled with asana (postures/physical exercise). I place emphasis and design my classes around a theme that essential contemplates our awareness and ego, to subtly take the student inward during the practice. I incorporate components of the 8 limbs of yoga – principles, pranayama, guided meditation and asana. From Ahimsa (non-judgement)…letting go of attachment, being present, and connecting and acknowledging our individual ego mind that we practice quieting so we may progress in our individual journeys in our yoga practice.
How did yoga change your path?
I found yoga asana or what call western yoga in 2004 while serving at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. I went for fitness and relaxation and found both, as well as an unexplainable enjoyment and peace, something I didn’t experience in the gym or running which always seemed like work to me. A few years later, I found myself practicing “asana and pranayama” exercises 5+ days a week at a yoga school in Hong Kong. It was then that I realized I found something greater than exercise for my life. Everyday, when I would leave my practice on the mat I had a feeling of bliss, euphoria, sattva! I developed a new relationship with my body, my mind was freer and my confidence increased. For the first time I felt control over my body and state of mind. While visiting family in India my aunt took me to her yoga “asana” class and the teacher requested that I teach. I told her I was not a teacher. But she insisted and wanted to know what I knew. I was filled with excitement, as the students and the teacher said it was the best class they’ve had. Really, I was mimicking what I knew from my teachers back in Hong Kong. The experience of teaching in India filled me with more of the “yoga kool aid”.
When I returned to DC in 2010, I found TS in Arlington and heard about the TS Teacher Training programs and completed the TT100 and TT200 hour certifications. I was certain that there was more and something I didn’t know. So I dove in headfirst and came out realizing that this was a gift I wanted to pass on to others, just as my teachers have done and continue to do for me. I wanted to contribute to my family, friends, society and the world through yoga.
The best way to explain how yoga changed my path is to explain where I started and where I am today. Prior to becoming a teacher, my path/life was “sense-based” and “physical-based”. Meaning you could see it or touch it. My life was results-based. Yes, I wanted to help others and did and really loved doing so, but I mostly did it for results of accomplishments like being healthy, being a good person, friend, mate etc., working hard to get a promotion, choosing things to make me happy. Nothing wrong with all of that right? But I still new there was more. I had everything going for me but was still seeking and searching for a way to contribute in a greater way. I couldn’t explain it or define it. But it was something I wasn’t able to do with the tools I had. So I thought that wow, great idea, become a teacher (another accomplishment) and I can connect with others on that larger level.
Yoga has proven to be so powerful, provided me access to that which is greater than myself and tools found through the study and discovery of trying on its principals. This has been my road map ever since. Practicing and working on the principals set out in ancient texts like the Upanishads or the Bhagavad Gita, and modern texts like Darren Mains, “Yoga and the Urban Mystic”, or lectures and books of Ram Dass and others required during our teacher training program have been absolutely pivotal in my yogic journey and now also in my teaching. I draw nearly all of my yoga class themes from these texts. What I have realized now more than ever how teaching is my yoga practice. Because in order to teach these principals, asana, meditation, pranayama etc, I much also study, practice and be a student.
In recent years, one of the greatest things yoga has given me is connection to my husband. We both study the yogic texts together and he is also my best student too! It has provided us with a unique connection that we share with not too many others. Whether meditating while on holiday or having him just read from the Upanishads out loud before bed, it has fostered a common language and map for us to follow together and help us draw from to support each other in this world.
I had no idea that TT200 could lead to all of this….unleashing my truth, my path of contributing to others though sharing my authentic self and finding my voice. Sharing my journey of self-discovery, practicing ahimsa, non-attachment. etc., revealing myself in my teaching and coming out the other end unexpectedly not only “teaching yoga” but finally practicing it. Yoga meaning union or to yoke in Sanskrit will be a never ending cycle of study, practice and teaching. This is my personal roadmap to living my truth in this world and being of service to others.
What would I recommend to those considering TT?
Keep an open mind and allow yourself to try on the different hats yoga can offer. Consider parts of your life you would like enriched and allow yoga to help you get that for yourself.