Yoga – What I’ve Learned
There was no way I could go all the way to India to complete my 200 hour yoga teacher training, and not blog about it. Undoubtedly one of the best decisions I’ve made, I wanted to share what I’ve learned, the positive impact it’s had on me personally, and what I can pass onto my clients. The idea
I’ll admit that prior to Goa, my yoga experience was pretty much limited to some morning yoga videos before work. I’d discovered that it had a huge positive impact on my mood and I was keen to learn more, but struggled to find the time to do so. A friend of mine had been raving about his recent holiday in Goa and I figured that going there for yoga teacher training would be the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Signing Up
After I’d booked my place and paid for my flight I started to practice the Ashtanga series. Whilst vinyasa is a flowing style that, in my opinion, beautifully mixes strength with grace and fluidity; ashtanga is fairly regimented. Although I’ve got a decent level of flexibility and strength, it was tough, and I wondered if I was up to it.
Never mind. I was sure it would be fine. The next worry to creep in was how I would fit in with the other people in the group. As a relative newbie would I be looked down upon by the others? I knew that it would be predominantly female, and in all honesty that worried me a bit too. Would it be competitive and bitchy? My martial arts training over the last few years has been in a male dominated environment, so this would be a huge change. After joining the Facebook group for my course old insecurities about my body started to resurface. I was bigger than most of the girls, and whilst a (fairly) decent proportion of that is muscle, it just made me feel further outside of the yoga “fit”. Agonda, Goa
Thankfully there was not a shred of competitiveness or even a remote whiff of bitchiness (a valuable lesson for me in terms of pre-judgement). Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Over the course of four weeks everyone, at some point, got emotional and/or overwhelmed. Intense physical training combined with exercises that are designed to release emotions will tend to do that. What frequently came to mind for me was the phrase that you cannot serve from an empty cup. And so, whatever “stuff” came up for each of us, needed to, in order for us to be in a position to teach and support our future students. Amongst a group of people I had never met before the level of support was incredible -not just from the other students, but from the teachers too. It’s difficult to describe without using clichés or disingenuous sounding superlatives, but the whole environment and experience was totally empowering. The yoga
So back to the yoga side of things. Having a schedule to practice yoga for a few hours a day was a fantastic opportunity, and one that really allowed me to progress. I was given the support and encouragement to try poses that I had shied away from before, and I surprised myself with what I was able to achieve.
On a very basic level I found that having the time to just be with myself (something I tend to run away from) and working with the basic body-breath connection was awesome. Yoga is all about unifying the mind and body, and without this course, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to really get on board with that.
Physically, discovering what my body could do, finding out when to push, and when to ease up, helped me to fully appreciate and love my body more. We were all encouraged not to judge ourselves if we couldn’t achieve a posture that we could the day before, and that was something that I finally started to take on board.
The worry that I had about not confirming with the “yoga body” soon disappeared. As I started to do more and more of the ashtanga, I came to appreciate the strength that I had. I was comfortable with chaturangas and arm balances came quickly. I’m naturally flexible in my hamstrings and lumbar spine, so forward folds and back bends weren’t a problem either. On the flip side I also discovered just how bad my standing balance is. Thanks to fallen foot arches half moon and some other standing poses look as if I’m plastered (not helped by the giggling that usually ensues...), so there are definitely areas to focus on!
So I completed the course, and graduated with my 200 hour teaching certificate. I’ll be running some vinyasa classes, starting next week, ready to share what I’ve learned with others. I see this course as a starting point for me – both personally and as a teacher. There is so much more that I’d like to discover.
Aside from teaching yoga, a lot of what I’ve learnt can be brought into nutritional therapy, fitness classes and personal training. The idea of non judgement, and not comparing yourself to others, is something that many of us could benefit from, both on and off the mat. Actually making time to connect with yourself, and freeing yourself from distractions, is really important and can have a huge impact on both mental and physical health.
There are so many other aspects to my experience and to yoga that I could talk about; but I will come back to those another time. For now, I’m just happy to share the start of my journey (I almost made it all the way through a yoga blog without using that word!) and look forward to passing on what I learn.