Tomoko first asked me if I was interested in the Okido Yoga teacher training a few years back. At the time I told her “no, that I was too old”. But some 18 months later I was aware of things happening to my body that did make me start to feel a little old: in particular an ankle injury that I hadn’t even remembered doing. I began to feel the need to find out what was going on with my body, and then it struck me that the teacher training might be an ideal way of doing this, as the aspect of training would help to keep me focussed. I didn’t think about the cost in terms of time or money; my sense, rather, was that I simply needed to do it. And so, about three and a half years ago, I enrolled on the teacher training.
To begin with, the training was about my personal development and my quest to find out more about my body, rather than about becoming a teacher. As I had hoped, the training provided a good way for me to remain focussed, rather than merely dipping in and out of Okido Yoga when it suited me. But, of course, as time has gone on, my understanding of what this yoga training is about has deepened and broadened as I have experienced “being there and doing it”.
During this time I have become more flexible and my posture has improved significantly, even though I am in my late 50s. However, for me, the journey has been much more than a physical training, much more than long trips back and forth to visit the dojo in Holland, more than stretches, asanas, breathing and meditation. The journey has taken me to a deeper understanding of myself physically, mentally and spiritually and it is a journey that, now begun, continues. And, in the final year of my training, I now feel that I might actually like to become a teacher of this wonderful form of Yoga.
As an adjunct to the training, last year Tomoko asked myself and Anna Mackenzie if we would help in a new translation of Master Oki’s pledges. I was happy to oblige and the three of us spent many hours poring over the meaning of phrases and words; sometimes even a single phrase might take hours to work through, only to need working through again a few weeks later. Tomoko led us with great tenacity through this process, translating from Japanese, whilst Anna and I would try and create the most appropriate English wording, all the time bearing in mind two previous translations.
Sometimes this process seemed difficult, an impossible uphill struggle; sometimes it was light and easy, as if freewheeling downhill. But, during the past 18 months, Tomoko has remained constant. As a result of this process, my understanding of and appreciation for the pledges has changed completely. Before, they seemed a somewhat eccentric prelude to many activities in the dojo both in Holland and in Suffolk. Now, I see in them deeper meanings. And, for me, they provide a means of connecting consciously with many activities that we do unconsciously for much of the time.
When Tomoko showed me the layout of the new pledges book with the Japanese on one side of the page and the English facing, it looked almost like poetry, while the strings of Japanese characters reminded me of the wisteria that grows outside my window.
My training continues and I hope to complete it early in 2015. In the meantime I would like thank Tomoko for being such a fabulous and inspirational teacher and mentor throughout this very special time.
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