Saturday, May 23, 2015

Return to School II

Why would a yoga teacher return to school? What will you study? How will you pay for it? What if you don’t get into the program? Don’t you have enough on your plate? What about your cats? Aren’t you kind of old for school?

OK – maybe one of those questions hasn’t been asked very often, but the others sure have been! In this posting, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on returning to school.

There are three primary motivations underlying my unfolding educational plans: I’m hoping to hone my observational/research skills, write more credible books, and get the word about yoga/activity/meditation out to a wider audience.

I was trained as a scientist, and while the scientific method has remained part of my intellectual process, my paradigm has become progressively more descriptive over the years. While I believe this approach has opened Alignment Yoga to a broader audience, I also believe the descriptiveness of my teaching will benefit from a more rigorous, scientific methodology.

For example, it’s often touted that yoga has great benefits for the nervous system. While there is abundant anecdotal evidence that supports this claim, there’s not a whole lot of rigorous, objective evidence to support this claim, nor many of the other claims that yoga teachers regularly make. I’m hoping to add some small piece to our understanding of how activity influences the body/mind complex.

Along with this interest in honing my intellectual process, I’m hoping to raise the bar on my writing. Since you’re reading this blog, you’re aware of how much I like to write! And whether I’m practicing yoga, meditating, or exploring any other activity, I’m interested in exploring deeper levels of understanding.

I believe the process of pursuing a PhD will take my writing out of its comfort zone and, with the input of a committee that may not necessarily care much about my self-esteem or feelings of empowerment, will demand that I look at the things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know. When I read books by writers like Daniel Goleman or William Broad, I see clarity in their writing that I believe came, at least to some extent, from their academic training. I hope to someday write with this same sort of accessible clarity.

Lastly, I am currently some dumb yoga teacher, to quote the esteemed yoga teacher Dona Holleman. OK, maybe I don’t fully believe that I’m some dumb yoga teacher but in the bigger picture of knowledgeable sources of information, yoga teachers may not be the great founts of wisdom that we like to think that we are.  I’m hoping that by researching activity’s influence on the brain and honing my capacity to communicate this information, I can in some small way help more people take the time to move their bodies and meditate.

While I have some clarity in my goals for returning to school, there are still many unknowns. For example, I am in close contact with a faculty member and staff in the Kinesiology department, I am diligently studying for the GRE, and some dear friends and colleagues have agreed to write me letters of recommendation but I have yet to even formally apply for admission! (I’m aiming to submit the application in October of this year.)

The wheels have been set into motion, yet are many steps between deciding to return to school and actually sitting in a classroom. In forthcoming posts, I’ll share more of the details in making this shift.

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