Some of you just finished your 200 hour yoga teacher training with Hari Ji in Gokarna, India. I saw many incredible posts and photos during the training, and it made me think back on mine, reflecting on how auspicious it has been in my life since. (The feature image pictured above is of the most recent graduates from Shree Hari Yoga School. Congratulations to you all!!!!)
Back in October of 2013, I finally decided to take my yoga practice and teaching a step further by signing up for my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training (YYT). Three years prior to this, I earned a yoga teaching certificate through a fitness association, not from a yoga one. At the time, I was very new to yoga and was trying to teach in a gym like a friend of mine was already doing. They only required this certificate, so I taught yoga in a gym using this for 3 years. Eventually, as I learned more about yoga, teaching and the practice, I knew I needed to get an official certificate via a 200 hour course.
My decision to do so was directly influenced by the life changes I was going through at the time. I had just quit my career and was setting out for South East Asia and India in November. Before doing so I told myself that this was the time for my to finally complete my 200 hour YTT course, as it could be a great asset for me traveling on the road.
Having also given up my apartment, I was open to take a training anywhere I had family or friends. My best friend and her husband, Sara and Joel, lived in Berkeley at the time and I thought, “How perfect would it be to spend a month living with my best friend in Berkeley while doing my yoga training?!” I found a studio and course format I was really interested in near by in San Francisco. I ran the idea passed Sara and Joel and of course they were just as excited! Within days I flew to their apartment and got ready embark on a 28 journey of yoga study.
I commuted to San Francisco from Berkeley via The Bart, the public transit system of the area, Sunday-Friday for the month of October. Our daily routine began with 1 mandatory silent practice in the morning in which we led ourselves through the primary Ashtanga series (this always included a few minutes of the Kriyas called nauli--I personally love this exercise!) This was super challenging at first because I did not know the sequence, but I also remember how powerful I felt once the days went on and I seamlessly transitioned from posture to posture until I finally, without even having to think, I could perform the entire series on my own.
One time our teachers had us practice with ear plugs in so we couldn’t hear any ambient sounds and could focus intensely on our ujjayi breath. I went deep into myself that day and since then have even done this in my own practice when I really want to use yoga as a deep moving meditation.
In addition, we spent time as a small group learning different facets of yoga. We read The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and studied many of them. We used netti pots and delved into anatomy. We had daily homework and many opportunities to teach each other. One of the most important and helpful parts of the course was to write a daily journal. In it, we were asked to include short and long term goals related to the course and yoga, as well as notes from discussions, readings, experiences, etc. Everyday was full of another concept of yoga, and everyday I learned a little more about myself and why yoga has a strong pull on my heart.
I also practiced 1-2 more times a day, but these classes were the regular studio classes led by one of my teachers. I needed to go all in. With my mind expanding and my body changing, I felt less hungry and yet stronger. I was invigorated by daily pranayama and Kriya, while also inspired by the Sutras, my teachers and the experience as a whole.
That month flew by in the blink of an eye. Looking back now, although it was only a month long, it was monumental for me on my yoga journey. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can have such a strong influence on us. I completed my YTT in San Francisco in 28 days. 28 days. In the grand scheme of life, it doesn’t seem like much. But it was, it still is, and it always will be.
Here’s a poem I wrote on my YTT graduation day:
Today I am more confident.
Today I teach my best friend yoga for the first time.
Today I equip myself with a skill I can share anywhere.
Today I prove how resilient I can be.
Today I honor the master yogis who have come before me and thank them for passing this great practice on.
Today I love a little bit harder.
Today I thank my great teachers seated with me here now.
Today I smile at the opportunities that I will encounter on my travels.
Today I dream of yoga in the sand, yoga in the forest, yoga with people I meet, to teach and share this gracious and beautiful practice.
Today I am free….free from all that which has held me back and held me down in the past. Today I fly free, into the wind, across the ocean and to an unknown world that awaits me.
This is only the beginning….
For those of you who just finished your yoga teacher training, I recommend taking time to write down how you’re feeling now so that you too, can read it over and over and reflect upon this profound experience of your life! For those of you that have not completed a YTT, take a moment to consider it and stay tuned for next week when I elaborate upon some the remarkable ways my YTT has been a huge gift in my life.