Follow the Yellow Brick Road

SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

Photo: Kathryn Schledwitz

In December of last year, under the influence of a New Moon in Sagittarius, I applied to participate in Illuminated Journey, a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. While the primary objective of Teacher Training was to qualify its graduates to teach Vinyasa classes, I was more interested in participating as a means of deepening my practice and taking on an interesting challenge.

Each month, the Moon rotates around the Earth, appearing at various degrees of illumination by the Sun. When the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun (rendering it “invisible” to the naked eye), we experience what is referred to as a New Moon. At each New Moon, we have access to an energetic upgrade characterized by the sign in which the New Moon occurs.

In this case, December’s New Moon was in Sagittarius, symbolized by the archer. The archer’s bow and arrow represent the aim toward higher learning, truth, purpose, and expansion. It seemed perfectly synchronous that at this particular New Moon, I was preparing for a vigorous physical, intellectual, and spiritual pursuit.

At the beginning of our meditation module, a friendly, bearded teacher called Harshada asked us to go around the room, state our name, how long we had been practicing yoga, and why we practice. It felt strangely like (how I imagine) an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting:

“Hi, I’m Ali. I’ve been practicing yoga since 2004. The reason I practice always seems to change; but, right now, I practice because I love it, and as a means of self-mastery.”

Harshada explained that practices like yoga and meditation could help us align with our True North, an inner compass that always points us in the direction of true happiness. With the allusion to AA, and in light of this new understanding of True North, I could not help but think that Teacher Training was actually a form of rehabilitation – one that would allow us to realign with and pursue more of that which truly makes us happy.

When I finished teacher training, in May, I felt proud and relieved – it was challenging to manage a full-time corporate job and fulfill the demands of Teacher Training – but, also, a little lost. I had identified Illuminated Journey as step along my True North path (or yellow brick road, as I like to call it); but, once it was over, I felt unsure of what I should do next.

Over the summer months that followed, I rested, wrote, traveled, caught up with friends and family, and gave myself freedom to just “be.” It was during this time I realized that, although I (still) did not have a strong desire to get in front of a class and instruct yoga, training had imparted me with the notion that if I wanted to be really good at something, I needed to learn as much about it as possible.

After watching an inspiring documentary about singers at the Montclair Film Festival, I decided that my next investment would be in voice lessons. I had been singing and performing all my life, but had never properly learned to “play” my instrument.

Late August’s New Moon in detail-oriented, meticulous Virgo heralded the end of summer and the beginning of back-to-school, back-to-work, and productiveness of fall. However, with a birth chart primarily characterized by airy, fiery, and watery influences, I was having trouble connecting with earthy Virgo’s New Moon message. It wasn’t until the day I was scheduled for my first voice lesson that her message began to come into focus.

Virgo represents the harvest – the time of year when we gather the fruits of our labor and prepare for the winter months ahead. It is a time of purification: identifying and eliminating that which no longer serves us, so that we may thrive. In contrast to the New Moon in lofty, idealistic Sagittarius (that kicked-off my Teacher Training journey), the New Moon in Virgo is about getting things done, one step at time.

Even to achieve a lofty goal (toward which one might aim his or her bow and arrow), we must be willing to put one foot in front of the other and take the best next step that is available in each moment. Sometimes, the next step is a vulnerable first step into uncharted, unknown territory (like taking your first voice lesson). Virgo asks us to take that next step even though it may bring up palpable fears of rejection, inadequacy, failure, or uncertainty. Virgo recognizes that the choices we make now correlate directly to what we manifest in the future, and asks us to be conscious of and responsible for our choices, big and small.

As we approach the final few months of this transformational year and reflect on the months leading up to this harvest time, I am reminded that: if and only if we orient ourselves toward True North and take real, tangible steps in that direction, can our dreams  begin to unfold in magical, unexpected ways.

As for me, I’m still not exactly sure where the yellow brick road is leading me, but I am greatly looking forward to voice lesson #2.

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