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TALES OF AN IMPERFECT YOGI IN TEACHER TRAINING
Written by Dr. Romie on Jan 21, 2014
Mind-body Medicine Tags: YogaMindful LivingExercise
Photo: shutterstock

Join me every Tuesday as I share my yoga teacher training tales as an insider in the 200RYT teacher training at Guruv Yoga Studio under the guidance of Tymi Howard.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  Zen Proverb.

Have you seen ads for yoga teacher training and wonder what is all the hype about?  Are you curious about what really happens in yoga teacher training?  Have you wanted to join, but feel like you are held back by worries of your flexibility, age, or that you be joining some sort of cult?  

Let me be clear, I am not the girl you picture in a yoga ad, in fact I’m far from it.   I’m 5’4 without the high heels, and I don’t have a dance or gymnastics background.  I almost didn’t join because I still can’t do handstands, headstands, and I'm not even sure that I want to balance on my sacred brain.  How did I get here, again? (yes this is my second teacher training).  

My dedication to my yoga and meditation practice started 3 years ago.  I felt lost on my path, and I felt stuck in my job as a traditional physician specializing in neurology working 80-120 hours a week.  Career burn-out was inevitable, and I didn’t have the time or emotional capacity to dream of a different life.

I did connect, however, to this undeniable sense of peace and healing for my mind and body when I unrolled my yoga mat or sat in quiet meditation.  But then the shrill sound of the pager would summon me back to the hospital and ruin that state of zen.  I felt like I was living as a dual agent, doctor by day, and an imperfect yogini on the sly.  I would find myself doing pranayama (yogic breathing) exercises in my office to refocus when no one was watching.

I started researching the question, “why do I feel better when I do yoga or meditate?" There is a wealth of scientifically proven medical and psychological evidence that yoga heals.    Meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness based techniques helped me to heal from physician burnout.  This was the first hint I got that my life’s calling was transitioning into integrative medicine and mind-body medicine.  

I didn’t know what the first step would be, until I went into meditation and it just came to me “yoga teacher training”.  What?  Then fear showed up.  “Romie, you are physician, that’s crazy”.   “Romie you don’t have a ballet or gymnastics background”.   “You can’t be a yogi if you can’t wrap your leg around your neck”.   “My ASSana is stuffed into these Lulus.“

My practice led me to learn yoga and meditation techniques around the world.  I saw first hand, that the Yoga Journal and LuluLemon ads give us only one glossy and photo-shopped point of view.  Yogis are of every age, race, religion and physical skill level.   I had an awakening reading that marketing global giant JWT sites that “Proudly Imperfect” is one of the top trends for 2014.   In owning my imperfection I am in a perfect place.

I completed my first Hatha yoga teacher training in 2012 to further my own practice.   It transformed my life, physically, mentally, and spiritually.   Since that time I feel like my spirituality and meditation has become a regular practice in my life- limbs of yoga that are often not emphasized in the US as much as the physical postures (asanas).       

For months now, unless I was teaching a gentle yoga class, I was lacking the discipline to unroll my yoga mat.  I felt like a yoga fraud because my physical asana practice was being ignored.  This led to my asana practice becoming sloppy, and my physical body was getting weaker.  I know if I felt stuck on my mat, it is a direct reflection of feeling stuck in my life.  When I went into digital detox over the New Year, one thing became clear.  I’m turning 40 this year, and this is my time to be physically healthier than I have ever been in my life.  

I also realized this journey is not meant to be a solo mission, I needed a teacher and a guide.    This past Saturday, the Universe brought me to her studio.  She asked all the TT’s to stand up.  As I looked around the room, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a fit.   The heat in the room was amplifying my fears again.  “I’m too old.”  “You’re not a yogi, you can’t balance upside down on one arm.”  “It’s so freakin hot in here, I’m ready to explode out of these tight yoga pants and sports bra."   “I want carbs!”

Then the music started, and it’s not the cliché spiritual Indian knock-off music you expect in a yoga studio.  This was rock-your-butt in da club South Beach style hip-hop.  Yes, hip-hop music for a yoga class.  When JT started singing, my Punjabi Princess hips started swaying in downward dog.   By the time Akon was serenading me with “Sexy B*tch” I found my way into my very first “Birds of Paradise” (my version that is).   The music was pumping so loud that it finally deafened my fears.   By the time I collapsed in sweat, exhaustion and elation into pigeon pose, Tymi came around to offer me a much needed adjustment.  In the middle of the heat and loud music, she had presence of healing and stillness in her.   The gift of her words as we lay in shivasana, “You have the power to shift your being.  You have nothing to fear.” I knew I had found my teacher, my guide and my yoga home.

Romila “Dr. Romie” Mushtaq, MD is practicing mind-body medicine at the Natural and Integrative Medical Center in Orlando, FL.   She empowers clients to find work-life balance and stress reduction through health and wellness coaching. Dr. Romie is also a highly sought after national mindful living expert who speaks to corporate clients and women’s groups on the medicine behind mindfulness.

Dr. Romie’s yoga home is now Guruv Yoga, and she is inspired to have found Tymi Howard as her yoga teacher during the 8 month 200hr RYT yoga teacher training.  You can now buy her highly acclaimed  guided meditation CD “Connect To Joy” on iTunes    

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