Aaron: A Teacher’s Story Told in “A’s”

The name Aaron has an abundance of A’s doesn’t it?  While going over what Aaron described,  both leading up to becoming a teacher and in the year that followed, there were standout words that all started with the letter “A.”

And so, meet your teacher Aaron.

aaron 1

Awareness

Aaron grew up in California, born in Los Angeles.  While still living in California, Aaron’s parents decided to divorce.  However, after some time apart, his parents unselfishly decided to reside together to raise Aaron and his brother.  They accepted teaching jobs in Sheridan, Oregon and moved the family to the Northwest.  Eventually, Aaron’s dad took a job in Vancouver and Aaron moved here to attend Hudson’s Bay High School.  In his junior year, while participating in tryouts for the basketball team, Aaron got the phone call.  The one that changes everything.  His father was gone.  A heart attack.

As time passed and the family grieved, Aaron, his mom and his brother grew closer.  He stayed in Vancouver after he graduated from high school.  Aaron was a self-described “big guy” like his father had been.  He worked hard, smoked cigarettes , and in general behaved like most his age: like he was indestructible.  After a painful breakup, he became aware of his lifestyle and began to realize he needed to change.

He started going to the gym and upon the urging of his coworkers, decided to try running.  Hooked immediately, he signed up for his first half marathon in 2010. He  then reached his goal of running it in under 2 hours.  Around this time, Aaron tried “hot yoga” for the first time.  While it was extremely demanding, Aaron found himself driven to go back.  He craved both the challenge of the class and the relaxation his body felt.  “I want this, I need this” he told himself.  In 2011, he completed the Portland marathon and again surpassed his goal, crediting both hard work and yoga to carry him through to the finish line.

Adventure

After the marathon, Aaron and a friend traveled to 8 countries in 35 days.   It was this trip that he says really changed him, instilling in him a faith that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to do.  The adventure he took and the courage to try were indicative of the desire to to continue building his mental muscle as well as his physical endurance.

Returning home, he stepped up his yoga practice.  In the process, he “fell in love” with the yoga and was in the hot room 4 or 5 days a week.  He did karma yoga to help pay for his practice,  fully investing in both time and effort.  Just before a trip to do another marathon in Australia,  Aaron noticed a “really cute girl” in the hot room whom he recognized from high school.  In addition to the many gifts he had received from the yoga, he also was fortunate to add Kelly, his girlfriend, to the list.

aaron 2

Kelly and Aaron taking their practice on the road.

Alignment

At about this time, Aaron heard about teacher training.  It sounded punishing:  9 weeks?  Classes twice a day? Bikram yelling at you?  But he thought about his own life, what yoga had taught him, his own strengths and what he wanted for his future.  He loved the yoga, he loved the format of the classes, he loved sharing his knowledge with others…it seemed the perfect next step.  The impossible now seemed possible because he wanted it.  Once he decided he was in, the pieces fell into place.  With gratitude, he took a family loan from his grandfather to attend training, he was accepted, and it was soon time to go.  What Aaron wanted for himself and what he was created for himself were now beginning to align.  He was ready.

Acceptance

Aaron went to teacher training having never completed a double before, let alone doubles for 9 weeks (in addition to long lectures, late nights, grueling dialogue memorization and the stress of the training).  He got through his first couple okay.  But on the first Friday of training,  as he lay down for the floor series, he remembers thinking “I can’t get up.”  He had absolutely nothing left.  While others left the room (Bikram said it looked like the “Tokyo train station” so many were coming and going),  Aaron told himself he would not leave the room. He accepted the fact that he wasn’t able to do the postures at that time.  That was where he was, and that was okay.  He made himself a promise at that time that he wouldn’t leave the room, no matter what.  And he didn’t.  The entire training.

Aaron stayed focused on Bikram’s words and found this the best way for him to sustain the energy to get through and eventually, trust the process.  In particular, Aaron focused on and embraced these Bikramisms:  the right way is the hard way, try 100%, my words-your brain and eventually in the future.  He learned to trust himself and be open to all the different styles of teachers.  He met new people, (37 countries represented at his training) and reminded himself to accept corrections from Bikram without it feeling like venom, but instead like a blessing.  Training was the “hardest, best” thing he had ever done for himself.

During his training, Kelly committed doing a class every day to support him.  She recorded an amazing 150 classes in a row.

Adaptation

Coming home from training, Aaron began to teach right away.  It had been life changing for him, but he had to adapt to his new role as teacher in addition to student.  Along the way, he relied heavily on the dialogue.  As Aaron explains it, you have to do this initially in order to calm your nerves and allow yourself to teach with love and passion.  If you as a teacher have been up all night, are nervous, don’t feel well, whatever…you can always count on the dialogue.  It is the foundation of the yoga.  It is what the students count on, too.  As a new teacher, you are encouraged to focus only on the dialogue for up to the first 6 months or so after training.  Not on corrections or health benefits.  Gradually, day after day, you learn to have faith in yourself.  You can expand beyond the dialogue to see the entirety of the class.

Bikram and the proud graduate.

Bikram and Aaron at the end of training.

As the year has gone on, Aaron has begun to find his own voice in addition to adhering to the dialogue.  As his students will remember, when he first got out of training, Aaron taught the class very much by the book.   Now, he has added his own style.  He is developing his teacher’s eye to correct postures, give positive feedback and make it fun.  (Many students have enjoyed how he calls us “my friends”).  For Aaron, and for most teachers, what makes sense for them is what they share in the hopes that it will also make sense for you.  He has a way of explaining asana in a no-nonsense manner.  His classes are infused with use of breath and guidance to embrace the stillness.

Ananda

Ananda in the Buddhist tradition means the ultimate happiness, which is every being’s goal.  Each of us choose a different course to achieve that goal and become who we want to be.  In Aaron’s life and practice, he has been teaching frequently, up to 14 classes a week!  He strives to balance teaching with practicing as he doesn’t feel you can be a good teacher unless you also practice, preferably alongside your students.  He hopes to give his ailing knee a little TLC in order to speed his healing and get back to his love of running.  After two years together, his relationship with Kelly is “stronger than ever.”  They can easily geek out on talking about yoga and enjoy spending as much time as possible together.  He knows that the three most important aspects of doing the yoga are also the most important for doing what you love:  precision, intensity and frequency.  Aaron, having been bitten by the travel bug and also a social butterfly, also plans on traveling and visiting studios across the country for an “east coast tour.”  He plans on starting in Minneapolis and making his way to New York City.

Aaron adds that Bikram asks a trick question during training.  The question is, “Who is the most important person in your life?’  The answer is one that Aaron invokes in both how he lives his life and how he guides his students.  The answer is simple.  The answer is…

You.

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: