on the mat: ParaYoga Master Training at Namaste Berkeley

Congrats to MaryBeth – you’ve won two tickets to Market at the Food Bank to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank!  Didn’t win? Tickets are available online for the May 4th event.


Let’s say you followed my Instagram mid-month. You would have noticed a lot of vegetarian meals, yoga mats and training manuals. Throw in the picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and it was clear that I wasn’t in Ohio. I snuck away to California to partake in my first ParaYoga master yoga teacher training session at Namaste Berkeley. Lucky for me, my yoga-teacher partner-in-crime, Kevin, joined me for the adventure.

Namaste Berkeley

ParaYoga’s founder, master teacher Rod Stryker, led this ParaYoga Master Training 5-Day Intensive – Tantra Shakti: The Power and Radiant Soul of Yoga. He is the same teacher who lead The Four Desires immersion I attended in Cincinnatti this past September.

Through the course of a span of Saturday through Wednesday, we were taken on a path of self-empowerment through this training that promised to “demystify the tantric approach to yoga and explore its key touchstones of practice and wisdom that open the doorway to thriving: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.” (description from the Tantra Shakti event website)

From 9 to 12 and 2 to 6 each day, my capacity to write as much as I could was stretched to its limits as I ended up with 30 pages of notes from the five days. The tactics on how to create asana sequences for hatha practices and vinyasa flows also included breath work and meditation.  We only “practiced” for up to 3 hours a day (one session in the morning, one in the evening); the rest of the time included lecture, small group discussions, further meditation and chanting (my favorite!).

parayoga notes

I’m not going to go into a dissertation of what tantra really is (we’ll have to save that for another time), but there’s something to this idea of expanding beyond one’s limits that stuck with me since leaving California last Thursday. Somewhere midway through day two, I started having some serious breakthroughs. They include…

parayoga notes

The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. We barely made it through half of day two when Rod dropped this bomb on us. I was feeling overwhelmed, primarily by the amount of information already shared with us. In a moment of wide-eyed “OMG I’m never going to get this”, I shared that building anxiety with him in-between sessions. He reminded me, and eventually the rest of the 60 trainees, that through a condensed amount of time, there was a lot of info to share — but by no means were we expected to implement it all immediately. He also reminded us to be unafraid to do the work, but to also be kind to ourselves in the process. Those were the exact words I needed to hear to move forward.

I have an addiction to busy-ness. This was my post-day-four walk-home-from-dinner revelation. As chatting with Kevin, I noted how clear I felt after our experience at training. Taking the time to slow down, remove distractions, make space and open up really had me feeling like the old Alicia. We came to some realizations that I had to also slow down my practice (meaning more moon practices and committing to meditation daily), and find ways to slow down my every day. Both will be challenges, but they need to happen in order for me to stay happy and healthy. Speaking of burnout…

Burnout t-shirts are still “in”. Thank goodness because I really plan to wear the heck out of this one… and the ParaYoga hoodie I’m eyeing up for my next wardrobe purchase…

parayoga tshirt

On a side note: apparently so is chevron – but that’s the topic of another upcoming blog post.

Sitting in half lotus for five straight days makes going back to the office a bit of a challenge. Sure, on day three when I decided to sit away from the wall, I questioned my life decision making skills as my body revolted from the lack of physical support to lean on. But Kevin and I quickly caught on just how much of Rod’s sequencing prepared and strengthened your spine to be able to sit for long periods of time. (Hello meditation!) But back at my desk the following Friday, I found myself contorting my jeans clad legs into positions not normally seen in office environments.  Just consider it a new definition for “chair yoga”…

Anxiety will always be a part of my life. The good news is that so will be my practice.  After those five amazing days at Namaste Berkeley, I said to Kevin “I’m sad to leave, but I feel so much more equipped to come home.” Once home, I felt inspired and ready to submit my application to enter the enrollment for the ParaYoga Master Training program.  One of the questions lead me to share my previous struggles with anxiety and how I’ve worked through them. With yoga being one of the most important tools in that process, I came to this realization. We can’t always control the craziness swirling around us, but we can control how we react to it. Again, I’m lucky to have a tool like my practice to help keep me on the level and moving forward.

With that application and one email, my path towards ParaYoga yoga teacher certification officially began. And with a reply email confirming my acceptance into the program, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” – H. L. Hunt

I’m honored. I’m inspired. I’m ready to change myself —  and more importantly, the world.

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  1. Alicia says:

    I’ve been waiting for this post! So extremely excited for you!

    Also, thank you for sharing that quote at the end of the post. It really rung true with me. It brought up some underlying feelings of not having a passion for what I do on a daily basis and the brightened my desire to complete YTT (lost focus of this after Nishkama closed!). How amazing to do a training in SF! Wishing you the best and missing your classes!

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