Not passing last year’s assessment helped my yoga practice grow stronger

2017 was probably one of he most difficult years I’ve had in a long time. I was coming off the heels of two significant family losses in 2016: my grandmother and father-in-law. It was also a year after my mom moved away to the mainland. Since my father-in-law passed, my wife and I share duties as caregiver for my mother-in-law who is in a wheelchair after a stroke in her 50s. This includes being woken up in the middle of the night several times to take her to the toilet. To cap off the difficult year, I didn’t pass the Junior Intermediate I assessment I had been preparing for in the four years preceding. I felt I let my teachers down, my family down, and my students down.

I thought in many ways 2018 would also be a difficult year. We started the year with a false alarm missile alert. We also had two major hurricane scares so far. Sleep depravation is a constant. Plus I am busy juggling a full time job with teaching yoga classes.

As I have stated before, there is a regression toward the mean. That means when things are really bad, they don’t stay really bad forever. Things started to take a turn for the better when my mom visited in July. She stayed with my wife and I which was unusual  because all these years we lived near each other, and when I was in college I would stay with her. My mom would go to the beach every day and invited me to go with her. She reminded me that going to the beach is a major coping skill that I haven’t utilized for years.

Throughout all the past years of stress, I have developed a mantra practice. Before I went for my assessment last year in LA, I did my own puja to Saraswati. She gives those who are trying to study boons to help them. When I didn’t pass, I was perplexed. I wanted to be upset, but I felt that Saraswati was trying to teach me something deeper than just passing a test. I feel she was trying to completely transform me to be ready for something bigger.

I also held puja for Ganesh and Hanuman. Ganesh clears the obstacles in one’s way. Hanuman has all the yogic powers and demonstrates how to use them for the good of humanity as he has done in the Ramayana. There is a passage in the Ramayana where Rama is distraught after his wife has been kidnapped. That is when Hanuman first appears to him and gives him hope. In the same way, these mantras have given me hope when I listen to them and recite them that good news is on the way.

There are so many times I wanted to quit. There was even one time I considered canceling my airline ticket. My wife would not allow me to do so. She has been one of my best supporters through this whole process, even though she is equally fatigued with caregiving if not moreso.

About a month before the assessment, she got good news that her brother was able to take care of her mother during the time of my trip. She was able to come with me! It had been a few years since we were able to travel together. The assessment journey turned into a wonderful week’s vacation. My wife and I finally got a chance to enjoy each other without caregiving duties. We had such a blast!

Since my trip, I do feel transformed. I feel very relieved to have passed this test. Even if I didn’t pass, I feel that the hardship I have been facing isn’t so much gone, but now more manageable. My mantra practice is not as intense as it was before my assessment, and I miss it (even though I still practice). I even have to admit I put more into my mantra practice than my asana practice. But now I see how much it made sense for me at this time. As the Ramayana has many twists and turns, Rama prevails in the end with the help of his wife, his family, and his spiritual faith. I feel that Saraswati now smiles at her handiwork.

5 thoughts on “Not passing last year’s assessment helped my yoga practice grow stronger

  1. helena chiu

    thank you for your very moving post. it has been so encouraging to read all your posts. as i am also on my journey to my JI1 assessment next Oct. thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yogibattle Post author

      I think you will be outstanding. As impossible as this sounds, try to enjoy the process and take time to care for yourself. If you can’t do all the poses, just show how you are working on them with props. For the poses you can do, shine them as brightly as you can. As far as teaching, imagine these are your students in your regular class. If you get a pose on your sequence you have difficulty with, remember they don’t grade you per pose, they just want to see that you understand how to teach the internal linking and external linking at this level. For the written test, see how Iyengar makes an emphasis on Karma, Jnana, and Bhakti and relates them to Tapas, Swadhyaya, and Ishwara Pranidhana. I hope this helps 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. babycrow

    I offer you my congratulations. I read your ‘announcement’ post holding my breath!! 🙂
    Iyengar training is so far beyond my standard 200hr jcourse that I can’t begin to imagine… I’m glad such rigour exists elsewhere. But I also know formal assessments are only one aspect. FWIW your blog posts teach me so much, though I am a very distant student.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yogibattle Post author

      Thanks bc 🙂 I learn a lot from your posts too. This past year I haven’t been as active on wordpress for a variety of reasons. But when I’ve gotten a chance to binge read, your blog has been a go to. I’m still very happy that you connected with Sonia and k8 a few years back.

      Liked by 1 person


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