Welcome to Pranalife Yoga and Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training. Find yoga classes, workshops, and the best yoga teacher training, with advanced yoga teacher and teacher trainer Asia Nelson.
What a true delight it is to introduce you to this year’s Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training scholarship winner, Jessica del Rosso. She’s a gifted writer, so I’ll leave it to her to tell you all about herself below.
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Growing up in the foster care system made me no stranger to counsellors and therapy. The experience would always be the same. I would go over my childhood, talk about how I ended up in foster care and would eventually hit a wall. As I got older and went to University for social work, I found myself attending therapy and knowing what the next question would be. I knew what the symptoms of PTSD and trauma were. And while talking and feeling was important, I wanted to walk away from therapy with solutions – something concrete, and felt I wasn’t getting that. Some of my counsellors would casually mention exercises to do with what I now know to be mindfulness. But I did not fully understand it. In fact, it made me angry when counsellors told me to breathe through my anxiety/ panic attacks and to “ground myself”. What the did that even mean?
I wanted to walk away from therapy with solutions – something concrete, and felt I wasn’t getting that. Some of my counsellors would casually mention exercises to do with what I now know to be mindfulness. But I did not fully understand it. In fact, it made me angry when counsellors told me to breathe through my anxiety/ panic attacks and to “ground myself”. What the did that even mean?
Over the last few years, my personal path has gone in a huge direction change. I started volunteering at Queen Street Yoga, and began practicing yoga 1-3x a week. As a youth who was often in the spotlight advocating for foster care system change, I had always thought that I would continue as a local public speaker and a provincial advocate for children and youth in care. I thought that I would work at Children’s Aid for 3-5 years, apply for my Masters of Social Work and then work in Toronto as a Provincial Advocate. However, after a year and a half working as a front-line CAS worker, my plan seemed to crumble. The job was too close to home and I found myself spiralling into depression. I made one of the most difficult and bravest decisions a person may find themselves needing to make. I had to start over.
I made one of the most difficult and bravest decisions a person may find themselves needing to make. I had to start over.
I decided that despite the reliable income and benefits, I needed to leave CAS. I didn’t want to spend anymore additional years on top of the 10 I had already spent, advocating and fighting against a system that wasn’t changing anywhere near as fast as it needed to. I did not want to add to people’s trauma, but help guide them through it as a holistic therapist, like my amazing counsellor now. In order to do this, I feel I need to be able to explain to future clients the connection between healing from trauma and body mindfulness. I want to be able to apply mindfulness into my therapy style, as opposed to just talking to my clients about it, which may leave them not knowing where to start, like I felt.
I did not want to add to people’s trauma, but help guide them through it as a holistic therapist … I want to be able to apply mindfulness into my therapy style, as opposed to just talking to my clients about it, which may leave them not knowing where to start, like I felt.
Although in my heart I know I did the right thing, it has been a very difficult couple of months as I find myself understanding why so many people do not leave their secure, well paying jobs to follow their passion. However, I have never been one to follow the crowd. I dance to the beat of my own drum. Receiving the scholarship will help me pay for the books needed for this course and relieve some of the debt that is quickly adding up.
Year after year, this training fills with amazing people taking these bold steps. And year after year, they find their tribe, fill their empty cups, and emerge with newfound inspiration, energy, knowledge, skills, and excitement.
It’s pretty much the best job in the world to lead this training, and it would be even better with YOU in it. SAY YES.
You’ve waited long enough. Seriously. You’ve taken the ‘right’ job that was practical – but not your passion. You’ve given your time to other people’s needs first, while your goals sat on the back burner. You’ve done all the ‘right’ things to be a good person for the people you love.
That’s amazing! You made choices that were right for you, and you’ve done great things along the way. But now, there’s something stirring inside you, something you can finally do, you want to do, you just need a little fire under your ass to do it.
It’s time to step up, face your fears, and create the life you want now.
Does that idea freak you out a little (let’s be honest: maybe a lot)? Well, I have good news: You don’t need to do this alone. You can take every step with other brave, change-making souls like you who are also making big changes in their own lives.
Every year I get to create a space where people like you come together to learn, connect, practice, and change the course of their lives. For nearly ten years, brilliant, kind, generous, kickass people have committed to 12 weeks of intense and powerful growth. It’s so much more than another yoga teacher training program: It’s an immersion into tapping your personal strength, improving your mindset and habits, and gaining the best skills to empower others.
Imagine: By the end of next year you could be creating your own sacred space for brilliant, kind, generous, kickass people to grow with you. You could be doing meaningful work that supports you and the new community you inspire. You could be that confident, compassionate person you are, in a career YOU create.
Your next opportunity begins NOW.
“When I started Pranalife training I didn’t know, I was hoping that I would be good enough, that I could let go of my imposter syndrome complex, and that it would be help me grow spiritually. It’s been so much more than all of that. I’m so grateful for the mutual support of other members, the opportunities to push through fear time and time again but in small digestible steps, and your humble guidance through it all, Asia.”~ Amanda Lee, Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training 2017
The shadow side of freedom is fatigue.
The past few weeks have felt heavy, full of long, dark hours and extreme cold. I assumed my own lulling mood was being influenced by these winter lows. I bumped up my vitamin D, got to the gym more, and went on with my life.
But I kept seeing it in the people around me: Sisters who usually dive enthusiastically into new things uncharacteristically shaken by change. Friends building mighty passion empires pining for a break from it all. Where optimism used to guide a conversation, a kind of hardened self-drive seems to have taken over.
My soul sister Jennifer Gough said it best the last time we met for brunch:
I don’t laugh very much anymore.
Amen, my sister.
In many ways my life has never been better. I’m so in love with my partner Matt I could burst. Reviewing the effort the 2017 Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training crew put into building themselves, their practices, and their lives in this recent yoga teacher training brings me to tears with pride and love for each of these brilliant people. I’m healthy, growing and learning. Life is good.
And thank goodness, because if it weren’t it would be even tougher to move with the weight of life lately. This human flow has always been there, but it feels like the waves of it are beating strong against our personal seawalls. The sombre catharsis of the #metoo movement and sickeningly unsurprising movie star revelations, the relentless tug-o-war of resentment from down south, global bickering, pain and wars. Much of it is well overdue, and a lot of it is outworn. This entire species and so much of what we do feels sick and tired.
Even in the allegedly enlightened world of yoga there’s a reckoning. Outdated practices are wearing thin and the dirty underbelly of guru worship is, unsurprisingly, disappointing and destroying the paradigms of many in its wake. Many are upset that others haven’t known how to handle it, as if we’re not all children in adult bodies still doing what we’ve been taught/observed, feeling the pangs of childhood failures and re-enacting them by infantilizing, chastising, and projecting our expectations onto others.
It’s like many of us are re-living that moment as children when we ‘realized’ our parents lied to us about Santa Clause (in my case it was Jesus, but the outcome was much the same). This strange, what, ‘rite of passage’? where we came to realize we’d been foolish to believe blindly, our trusted guides and caretakers lied to us, and we were supposed to take it all in stride as though this was all kind of, fun?, no big deal, just move on – with a newly learned distrust and self-protection. I suspect that was the point: to keep training our offspring like we were, not to misunderstand. People, even people you love, will hurt and fail you, and they’ll act like it’s fine, even fun, while you process these phases of your loss of innocence quietly.
Only this isn’t an imaginary old white dude sneaking into our homes and threatening not to give us what we want if we’re not “good” and don’t do as we’re told. These are actual dudes, actually breaking into our save havens and threatening to hold the keys to our gifts and punishments. Santa Claus gone wrong (what, exactly, ‘Santa Clause gone right’ would have looked like I truly couldn’t tell you; what a fucking horrific little story we for some reason love to perpetuate, such weird little monkeys we are). And for so long we were all just told – by people, by others’ actions, by the status quo, by all the ways life ‘just is’ – to continue to row, row, row our boats. Life is but … well, a bit of a nightmare, really.
It’s a big question. To start, I’m looking at this sense of fatigue …
I think I want to trade my tiredness. Lately, I’m fatigued by old human habits. I’m fatigued by repeating trauma. I’m so very tired of the boring stories we’ve been told and re-telling ourselves forever – stories not written by or for us but by and for purposes that perpetuate these boring, tired, oft horrifying life experiences we see repeating in our news, in our lives, in all of our silly distractions, in what are supposed to be our dreams.
I want to trade that tiredness for a good kind of fatigue. I’m more focused, driven, and inspired than ever to create things that matter, and maybe this is why I’m feeling all of this more lately. Freedom – the ostensible goal of a yoga practice – isn’t a gift handed to us by some all-knowing, white-bearded man who lives “up there” with helpers – angels, elves, what have you – working to make sure we get what we just ask for and then assume will ‘appear’ – always only as long as we’re deemed “good”.
In my yoga teacher training program, we start with weeks of exploring movement. People who never thought biomechanics or anatomy could be interesting, or as YTT17 peep Joanne said, “Asia made bones seem fucking FUN!!” (we appreciate the value of well-placed profanity in Pranalife) feel empowered by knowing what to do instead of just doing what they’re told. It’s a lot of change, letting go of things we’re good at to adapt to movements that make us feel like nubes. It’s tiring – a good, fun, hard, rewarding kind of tiring. We re-learn what we can do.
And we start asking why – why do we do what we do? This is the heart of yoga, this truth-seeking ability to examine not just our physical actions but ALL actions. Throughout the training I suggest setting down categories of right/wrong, like/dislike, good/bad in favour of asking, “Is it useful?” which leads to “Useful for what?” which leads to people really thinking about why they’re doing what they’re doing. In yoga we call it “intention-setting” or “vinyasa krama” – not just to move but to move in a certain way to reach a certain goal. This is even more tiring, this process of putting down our rocks, letting go of burdensome complexity (as one of my faves, Pavel Tsatsouline, would say: “Stop your complicated weakness and get strong in the traditional sense of the word”) to realign with simple, efficient action – on and off our mats. We learn why we do what we do, and how to do it better.
By the end of the training, we’re tired. And we’re better. We’re freer, kinder, more capable, stronger, smarter. It’s a good kind of tired, borne of doing good work.
by not doing things that fatigue us in useless way; by doing things that tire us in good ways; by paying attention to the outcomes of our actions and asking, “Why am I doing this?”; by working with people who have the same good goals as us and learning collectively; by laughing more; and by listening to the truth, our truth, that speaks to power by saying we don’t give a shit about those outdated stories of their strength and how we ‘should’ be if we want our freedom from them.
Fuck that. If I’m going to be tired, I want it to be because I’m full-out pursuing my OWN freedom. And I want that for you, too. The stronger and freer I am, the better I can support you. And vice versa.
My friend – I want you to be happy, free, truthful, strong, and good-tired. Let’s do this together.