YA Scholarship, Part 1: Ego, Unworthiness, and Joy

Yoga Alliance Scholarship (Part 1)

Surya Devi

The Scholarship

The Yoga Alliance contacted me on December 11th and told me that my application for a scholarship to continue my 500-hour yoga teaching certification was one of two winners from across the country! (There are two 500-hour winners and two 200-hour winners.)

After screaming in the house by myself, I called some friends and screamed with them, and then forwarded the information to a few close friends, and screamed with them! Basically the Yoga Alliance provides an award of $2,225 to put towards your 500-hour training. (The training at Kashi costs more than the scholarship, but the YA scholarship will help a lot.) Winners were selected based on their financial need, record of teaching yoga to underserved populations, and leadership in the yoga community. The money is given directly to the school and is paid after you complete your training. It must be completed within 2015.

The Journey

What a journey! and it’s barely begun. This whole thing began back in August/September when I identified that I wanted to spend some longer periods at the Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, FL. I was looking at doing a retreat there or doing the 200-hour Kali Natha Yoga teacher training (even though I have a 200-hour certification) because I wanted to immerse myself in Kali Natha, but I also wanted to spend time at the FL ashram. BUT I had no money to do this. In fact, I’ve been following some pretty stringent financial guidelines. I’ve been doing the Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey) plan to get out of debt. Once I identified my goal, I prayed about it, and I wrote Ma and Swami, too. I got some information on costs, etc. and put the information on my personal altar.

Saraswati Nadi Practice

In October/November I did my best to follow Swami’s instructions and perform the Saraswati Nadi practice. It’s a 2-week practice. The first week, I was just trying to not be negative. I won’t pretend a deep understanding of the practice. I just knew I was supposed to basically ‘speak no evil.’  Since I was going to visit family during that time, I knew that would be difficult. When I got back from my trip, I read the instructions more carefully and realized I was supposed to set an intention for something positive and keep that as my focus. At first, it was no big thing because I couldn’t think of anything I needed/wanted to manifest. THEN, October 30th I discovered that Yoga Alliance was offering this scholarship (actually the YA newsletter announced the extension of the deadline). Suddenly there was a ‘big ticket’ item to focus my intention and attention. So it became a real and full Saraswati Nadi experience.

The Application Process

I found it really difficult to remain positive about the application process. Insidious negativity, unworthiness, doubt, you-name-it— just wanted to jump in there. As I cataloged my community service and teaching activities to underserved populations, I kept thinking (teaching at women’s shelter, prison, patients at the Shepherd Center) wasn’t good enough. As I listed my leadership activities at the ashram, I downplayed my role. The additional trainings I’ve done couldn’t cut it. I kept thinking, “someone else has done more and they’ll win the scholarship.” Then, I’d look in the mirror and think ‘you don’t even LOOK like a yogi.” THEN, the monkey mind would flip and become grandiose saying “How could I NOT win.” It was mentally exhausting.

I write applications for funding all the time. I’m a professional grant writer. BUT that money’s not for ME. THIS was personal and it was really hard to give myself credit and ask for this financial support. Just asking is hard. Being positive? Not impossible, but really hard. Regardless of the feelings of doubt/unworthiness, etc. I gathered the letters of recommendation, and other supporting documents and submitted the application on November 7th. It was a blessing that I didn’t have more time to prepare, because I couldn’t get too caught up before hitting send. It was a case of good ole “Act as If,” as the AAers would say. Whether or not you believe it, you just put it out there. You don’t have to believe in mantra, you just have to repeat it.

Let GO, Let GOD

Once I submitted the application, the challenge was to let go of the application. That said, I found myself getting excited again about the 500-hour training. For the last year, I have put the 500-hour training on the back burner, because I just couldn’t afford to continue. (I should say, I chose to spend the money on getting out of debt and taking care of the business of life.) I had downplayed my sense of disappointment that I couldn’t do the 500-hour portion of various workshops and intensives. Maybe there was a little wallowing in the karmic space of pride. It was hard to help put together the notebooks for a 500-hour training, knowing I would only do the public part of the intensive. I had to remind myself that I was choosing to put a hold on the 500 hour training, and get out of debt, etc. for a reason, a yogic reason. . . to clear things out, make room. You can’t hold onto something new if you wont’ let go of the old, right? I had to remind myself I’m getting what I need today. Had to remind myself that living simply and within my financial means was actively working the Yamas and Niyamas.

But with the scholarship possibility, . . . I got excited thinking about how the scholarship would enable me to spend gobs of time at the FL ashram.  So, my ego would flash from one end of the spectrum to the other. “Oooohhh, this and this and this will happen if I get it.” and then “They’ll never pick me.” So  . . . .It was back to the breath, back to the moment. Reminding myself whether or not I got the scholarship, I would (eventually) spend time at the FL ashram and finish the 500-hour training.

Flowing in the River — Moving into 2015

And then on December 11th I got the word.

We were told YA would make its decision by Friday, December 12. That week, the monkey mind was just nuts. I actively used mantra and told myself that if I didn’t get the scholarship . . . I’d be okay. YA’s choice didn’t make me a better or worse person. (Sounds good, right?) When I found out I was a winner, after jumping around the room, I tried to remember that YA’s decision still didn’t make me a better or worse person. Then I jumped around the room again.

I can honestly say I’m just stupid-giddy-excited. Are the financial issues over? No. But 2015 will be the year I complete my 500-hour training! Not quite sure how it will all come together (room/board and transportation issues-for FL trainings-and that portion of the fees that the scholarship doesn’t cover), but I’m so excited about this coming year. While it might not be ideal to jam so much into 1 year (and it WILL be a lot of work), I just think it’s going to be a blast. (Fortunately, I do have the foundation of some of my 500-hour credits, teaching hours, and seva in place.)  I loved the CYTT program at Kashi Atlanta and how it was 6 months of almost pure saturation in the training. And for me, the teaching apprenticeship was a similar thing. (Kashi offers a 1-year teaching apprenticeship for 200-hour CYTT graduates.) I think 2015 and the remainder of my 500-hr training is going to be a similar immersion and I can’t wait.  I feel like I get to bathe in the Ganga for a year. This is the image that comes to mind. Feet in the mud, sweeping the water over my head and drenching my hair and body in that flow . . . for a year.

Here’s my fear. (Don’t you love it.) When I did CYTT and the apprenticeship, my dad’s health got crazy. I felt like the CYTT and the apprenticeship were part of the glue that kept me together. So I’m scared that getting this scholarship means that the family stuff is going to hit the fan. The other fear is that somehow I’m supposed to become this perfect yogi, like someone’s gonna look at my poses and practices and say “SHE got the scholarship? She ain’t all that.” Sigh. Regarding the latter . . . I can’t do anything about what other people say, do or think. But I can try not to repeat those words to myself. And regarding the family . . . whatever is in the wings, worrying won’t do anything about it. (Worrying hasn’t changed anything so far!) I can only breath through the family stuff, and attempt to keep my heart open through whatever family drama may (or may not) occur.

I am so excited about the coming year—all the joys and the challenges.