Dear Students and Friends,
I have a vision for the community at Mysore Philadelphia. My hope is that over the next few years we will all grow together and that the program will be available to students seeking a place to learn and practice Ashtanga Yoga for many years to come. Stability and security are the two key ingredients that will allow an individual’s practice, as well as a community, to grow and flourish. For that stability to exist proper supports must be in place. It is in this spirit that I have decided to offering an assisting program at Mysore Philadelphia, and I hope it will be received by the community with great enthusiasm.
Training assistants requires a lot of both the teacher and the community. Some patience is required as new assistants are trained, and an understanding that we were all new once. Those of you who were present when I was first being trained to assist probably remember that I went through a period of being somewhat “all thumbs”. I am eternally grateful to all of you for being so patient and generous with me and it is due to that generosity that I was able to learn and grow. I believe we as a fledgling community are up to this challenge, and my end goal for this endeavor is to strengthen this newly formed community and make it sustainable.
The program will help dedicated students develop the skills required to hold the space and share this practice with others. To be clear at the outset, this is not a teacher training course. As part of receiving Authorization to teach from Sharath and the KPJAYI, I have agreed not to hold or participate in teacher trainings and I have every intention of honoring my teacher’s wishes and the promise I have made. I am not a member of the Yoga Alliance (and I have no interest in becoming one), so the program also will not qualify for CE credits through the YA. I sincerely believe that no course, especially not one of a mere 200 or 500 hours, can make anyone a teacher. Daily, dedicated practice over years, and a sincere desire to learn and experience, are the real pre-requisites to share this practice.
This program is designed for students to deepen their own practice, to begin exploring another (often more challenging) practice – holding the space for and assisting others in doing their practice, and to support the community at Mysore Philadelphia. There will be no money exchanged, save for the continued cost of your monthly class card, but this program will require a lot of work and a deep level of commitment and dedication. There will also be requirements as to how many years participants has been practicing, and that they be practicing daily.
Assisting Program at Mysore Philadelphia
The program will be offered in 150 hour increments (100 hours of assisting in the room and 50 hours outside the practice space reading, writing and occasionally meeting with Meghan.) It will take approximately 9 to 12 months to complete the hours of assisting required, as each participant will be in the room once per week as an assistant. Once a student has completed 150 hours of training with me they will be able to hold the space in the practice room by themselves, teaching led classes and in the Mysore room as the opportunity arises, and they will be paid for their time and effort when they do so. No one will be left to their own devices until everyone involved (myself, the assistant and the students in the practice room) are thoroughly prepared for that to happen.
In addition to the time spent with me in the practice room, I also strongly encourage anyone participating in this program to attend a five day Primary Series adjustment Clinic with either Nancy Gilgoff and Christine Hoar (there is one scheduled for this October at Ashtanga Montauk) or one of the clinics that Christine holds on her own, which take place periodically. I’ve learned much of how I assist and how I relate to the practice from these women and time spent with them, particularly with Christine, will be invaluable in understanding the lens through which I am sharing the practice with you. Ivy McDaniels attended one in 2014 and it had an enormously positive impact on her growth as an assistant and new teacher.
Finally, it is my hope that anyone interested in participating has the sincere desire to eventually find their way to Mysore and the KPJAYI. I know that, despite the many sacrifices it requires, I am extremely privileged to be able to return there each year. I realize that commitments to other important areas of your life, such as family, career and finances, may make the trip difficult or impossible at the present time and I absolutely don’t expect participants in the program to be able to drop everything and rush off to India. However, if the way I teach holds resonance for you, then it is my sincere hope for you that one day you will find your way to Mysore and practice under Sharath (or Saraswati’s) guidance in that incredibly special room. My time as Sharath’s student has imbued my relationship to my practice with something that I find difficult to put into words. I come away each year with a subtler level of understanding and eagerly await the time when I can once again stand in front of my teacher and listen as he calls invocation. There is something special there that I simply can’t offer, and have not found anywhere else in the world, so I very much hope you will experience it one day for yourselves.
Information/Requirements – Assistant Training Program at Mysore Philadelphia:
1) The program is free. Students will continue to pay their monthly pass, but there will be no additional monetary exchange. There will, however, be expectations placed on assistants as far as the exchange of their energy is concerned. This is an energy exchange in the truest sense of the words, my energy for yours!
2) Students must have AT LEAST two years of CONSISTENT, DAILY practice under their belts before they will be allowed to assist. If you are someone in year one who is interested, keep practicing and this time next year you will be able to join! This is important, as beginning to teach before you’ve had time to focus on your practice is a recipe for arrested development.
3) Only 3-4 students will be able to participate at a time. This will allow me to focus my energies more clearly. If you are not in the first batch this DOES NOT mean you won’t be in the second one! Every 9-12 months, depending upon circumstances, a new call for applicants will go out.
3) Students who are assisting will be expected to maintain a daily practice, with at least 3 of those practices occurring in the room with me. (Three days of home practice are fine if that works better for your schedule.) This program cannot interfere will your growth as a student/practicioner. Practice is the single most important ingredient in this program, and if it becomes clear that this program is interfering with that then the student will be asked to take a step back from the assisting program in order to re-evaluate their ability to commit.
4) All assistants MUST participate in Led Primary each Friday. If there is a week here or there that you cannot attend that is fine, but you must let Meghan know ahead of time. This is extremely important, as anyone assisting will be expected to memorize the vinyasa count for Primary Series and by the end of the first six months of the program will be asked to teach a led class.
4) Assistants will be expected to assist once per week, beginning at 6:30 AM and ending at 8:30 or 9 AM, depending on what time the individual needs to arrive for work. Each assistant will have a specific, scheduled day.
5) On the days that students are assisting they MUST practice first. This is a non-negotiable. Taking self-practice before teaching is an important type of tapas that will carry with you should you continue to teach. It helps to develop a strong sense of willpower and devotion to your practice. Teaching, when done correctly, is about service. For a period of time it important that you devote a big part of your energy (outside of career and family responsibilities, of course) to your practice and to developing this second practice of teaching. Learning to manage your energy appropriately is also a big component of teaching, so figuring out how to have a focused, efficient (not necessarily long or fiery) practice once a week will be a skill that will serve you well after the program has ended. If you have concerns about how this can be accomplished please discuss these in your application. I have always held another job and can guide you through not only the process of adapting to extremely early practices, but also determining how much energy you can/should expend during your practice on the day you assist.
6) Assistants will be expected to make time to sit each day. This can be as little as five minutes. Personally, I do at least five minutes of the Metta or”Loving Kindness” meditation each day, and it is incredibly important that I make this space in my life and heart in order to hold space in the practice room with equanimity and compassion.
7) I will be conducting periodic (likely monthly and on the moon day or the evening before) “One Percent and Chai” evenings at my home to discuss theory as it relates to this practice. These will be open to all monthly card holders, but assistant attendance will be mandatory.
8) I will be offering 5 mini-workshops this spring and summer, one every 4-6 weeks, in May – September 2016 (Dates/Times/Location TBD) breaking down important aspects of the Primary Series and looking at a series of adjustments and assists. These are very important to understanding the lens through which I view and share Primary Series and the Ashtanga method as a whole. Attendance is strongly encouraged for anyone considering applying for this program, and this would be the only additional cost program participants will incur. (The entire series will be under $250, likely less, so if this additional cost is too much of a burden, PLEASE do not let it stop you from applying to the program. I am willing to “scholarship” a few people if needed.)
Please consider very carefully if this program is a realistic commitment for you to make at this point in time. This is not the only opportunity you will have to assist and if your schedule this year is already feeling full (travel, big life changes, work commitments, etc) then it might make more sense to wait and participate next year. If that is the case and you want to let me know of your interest for a future session feel free to drop me a line and let me know that you are interested in later sessions. Applicants for this session should apply by submitting an essay of just a few paragraphs, by April 18th. The 18th is tax day this year and the end of my busy season at work, so I will be able to read and respond to the essays beginning the 20th after a day of recovery. The first meet up for the program will be Sunday May 1st after practice for about 30 – 45 minutes over coffee.
The essay should include information about why you want to participate in the program, how you see this fitting into your schedule (specifics and logistics are important – as the saying goes “G-d is in the details”), and a little bit about your practice history from the inside, even if you think I know your story I don’t really until I hear it from you directly. I would also like to hear about your concerns or reservations that you might feel about the program. These are just as important as the reasons you want to participate. Finally, please include a list of days you would be able to assist as well as days you absolutely cannot assist, conflicts in the next 6-9 months (trips, weddings, busy times at work, etc.) and anything else you feel I should know.
Thank you for your interest and your efforts.
Applications for the 2016 Assistant Training Program are now closed. Thank you!