We have just returned home from our 5 weeks in Thailand. Going from 85 degrees, blue skies, and sun every day, down to 10 degrees, cloudiness, and wetness. So it’s taken a bit to get back into the rhythm of work and school, along with daily house and animal obligations, while also maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But we are ready to reflect on our experiences over these last few weeks! This is a reflection of our yoga teacher training experience.
How I Began My Yoga Journey
In 2017, I was diagnosed with Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome from running. It was extremely painful and felt like it was never getting better and kept me from enjoying the things I loved, such as hiking. Both John and my doctors suggested yoga to help expedite the recovery. So, I began to do more research on yoga. I started with a home practice, watching videos, looking at Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration, and within time, my knee got better.
In 2018, my new year’s resolution was to join a studio. I joined Tribe Yoga which is located in the town that I work in. I would attend the hot yoga flow at 6 a.m on Wednesdays and Fridays and absolutely loved it. Anybody that knows me, know’s I love hot, humid conditions, and love to sweat! Taylor was my very first yoga instructor, and she was the one who inspired me to keep coming back and to want to keep growing in my own yoga practice! And every yoga teacher I’ve had the pleasure of joining their classes has been so inspiring in different ways!
Choosing the Perfect Training
Finally, in January 2019, I had the urge, that this is something I really want to experience. I loved the way I felt after practicing yoga, and the way it transformed me both mentally and physically.
I’ve wanted to go to Thailand for a while now but always feared the number of hours spent on the plane to arrive from NY. But, if I could go for 4-5 weeks, I felt that was my way of justifying it.
I searched and searched for different yoga training courses, and they all offered something different. I needed something affordable, that also fit my busy schedule of work and school and that was all around appealing to me. This was a challenge. I searched every single day and found a couple that I fell in love with, but they didn’t work well with my school schedule and John’s work schedule. And I didn’t think work would ever actually allow me this time off. So, it felt like It was just a dream. And stopped searching.
But, it was still in the back of my mind daily.
In June, I started thinking about it again, and searching again, finally finding One Yoga, in Thailand. A 28-day, 200-hour teacher training. The schedule surprisingly fit with my break in school. I loved it. The curriculum. The accommodations. The location. The website. And the feel and diversity of all of the teachers. I finally decided to ask my boss for 4 weeks off, they surprisingly said yes without hesitation! I was ecstatic. And felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. We actually ended up taking 5 weeks, and vacationing the first week! John had no issues requesting the time off. I also had to get approval from my professors, as I would be missing the first few weeks of the spring semester. They were so incredibly understanding!
I sent in our deposits for the training, bought the plane tickets, packed our bags and my dream was coming to reality!
One Yoga 200 Hr Teacher Training
So, onto the good stuff…
John & I both just completed our 200-hour registered yoga teacher training at One Yoga. Training began on January 5th to February 1st. It was located on this beautiful Island, Koh Pha-Ngan, Thailand. Which is an island off the Gulf of Thailand, typically known for its Full-Moon Parties.
Koh Pha-ngan is also known as “the Healing Island.” The Island is rich in Roze Quartz, a crystal renowned for its healing energy. Surround by like-minded people, healing retreats left and right, vegan, vegetarian, Thai, organic, and gluten-free restaurants! Foodie Heaven. A Yin & Yang atmosphere and breathtaking natural beauty!
We stayed in the Sea View Wooden Bungalow at One Yoga. Overlooking the ocean, the view of the sunrise every morning, beautiful views all around. It was absolutely perfect. I could have stayed forever!
During our 28-day stay, we were fed a vegetarian diet. Yogi’s practice nonviolence (ahimsa) which prevents them from eating animals. (Not every yogi practices this, and you definitely don’t have to give up meat, but you may during your training!). And they say that meat-eating inhibits us from achieving deep states of meditation because it negatively affects the energy body.
The food was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! I miss the fresh fruit and coconut yogurt!
We learned about the three Guna’s, which are classifications of the quality of energy in all things used in yoga science. The three Gunas are Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. These describe our behavior, thinking, health and diet.
Sattva means balanced, harmony, purity, health, and wellbeing. These foods raise our consciousness, inspire us, open up creativity and allow us to go deeper into meditation. Sattvic food is cooked with love and eaten with full awareness and gratitude. (Pure vegetarian nourishment, including; eggs, ghee, fresh fruit and vegetables, juices, wholemeal bread, nuts, seeds, honey, herbs)
Raja meaning activity, energy, restlessness, stress, and anger. A Raja diet destroys the mind-body equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind. (Spicy, hot foods, onions and garlic, eggs, coffee, sugary foods.)
Tamas meaning darkness, dullness, and laziness. A Tamas diet tends to pull us downward into laziness, carelessness, and unmotivated. (Dead food such as meat, stale food, processed food full of chemical additives, fast foods, reheated food, alcohol, cigarettes, and other addictions.)
The aim is to increase sattva to raise consciousness through a healthy body and a peaceful mind. The food we eat has an enormous influence on us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Increasing Sattva will play a roll in our meditation practice.
All the Yoga Feels
It was intense. Challenging. And Emotional. Some days I felt frustrated and felt I wasn’t good enough. On other days I felt connected, to my body, nature, and the world around me. Surrounded by people from all over the world, there to pick you up on a bad day, and there to learn and grow with you! We all had our ups and downs. Even in the moments of struggle, I appreciate that this was all part of the journey. And was exactly what I needed.
We were fortunate to meet amazing, thoughtful, open-hearted people to share this experience with. It felt like we already knew each other. Becoming family so quickly. We laughed. We cried. And we flourished together.
It was a journey; a spiritual, enlightening, eye-opening journey. We practiced meditation, asanas, and chanting of Mantras. Fire Puja, Kirtan, Dharma Talks. Learning philosophy, anatomy and physiology, and the art of teaching. The days were long, but being immersed in yoga for 4 weeks was exactly what I needed. And exactly what John needed. It was beyond transformational. And so amazing how much you learn in 4 weeks, and how much there is to still be learned!
You expect to come home being as flexible as these Instagram yogis. Let me tell ya, that is not the case.
But you do come out feeling rejuvenated, transformed, and more connected. To yourself, to nature, and to the world around you. You will leave, feeling like a new being.
A better version of yourself.
Our Daily Schedule
“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear”Rumi
From the moment we woke up until our first class at 10:00 we were silent. Our breakfast breaks were silent. And in our yoga practice, the only one speaking was the instructor.
We also did one entire day of silence, with no cell phones or other electronic devices. We were wakened by a Tibetan Singing Bowl. And Practiced a lot more meditation during this day to allow the silence to carry us throughout the day.
The benefits of silence are that it saves us a great amount of energy. It is an essential element of cultivating awareness through meditation and allowing us to go deeper into that practice. To withdraw ourselves from self-expression. Mauna (Sanskrit word for Silence) is about training our minds. It also helps us become more aware of our surroundings, nature, and the world. It helps us realize that there is so much aliveness outside of our inner worlds.
I believe more people need some time to become silent. Time away from social media, e-mails, and phones.
What type of yoga we practice
Our main focus was Hatha yoga. Hatha meaning willful or forceful. And includes most yoga styles. Practicing both asanas and pranayama, preparing the body for deeper, spiritual meditation practice. Hatha yoga is designed to align and calm your mind, body, and spirit, but also allows heat to build up in the body by holding poses for a longer time.
We also learned Vinyasa Flow, which is moving from one posture to another, seamlessly, using breath. It’s flowier, hence the name, and many classes are different! Vinyasa is typically designed to build heat in the body.
We also learned briefly the Ashtanga Practice (ashta=eight, anga=limb) (eight limbs of yoga). (The eight Limbs include, Yama (Self-Restraint), Niyama (Observances), Asana (Physical Postures), Pranayama (Breath Restraints), Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation) and Samadhi (Absorption/ Self-Realization).
We were also introduced to Yin/Restorative, Ashtanga, and Prenatal.
A sacred fire ceremony, chanting mantras 108 times, offering our intentions from the heart to purify and empower our souls for the reality that we would love to live in. Offering gifts of grains, ghee, herbs, or seeds as specific mantras are repeated.
The sacred fire joined with prayerful intention eliminates fear, spreads joy, burns karma, purifies the environment, and generates surroundings for peace and prosperity. The fire ceremony is among the most powerful spiritual practices because it indicates the burning up of the ignorance, delusion, and obstacles that restrain us from the success of knowing our own divinity.
The fire is a channel of consciousness.
When we look into the flame with an open heart, we connect to the Divine
Sending energy and transforming power where it is needed most.
Kirtan is the practice of yogic chanting.
The Sanskrit word Kirtin means “narrating, reciting, telling, describing” an idea or story. It also refers to a genre of religious performance arts, connoting a musical form of narration or shared recitation, particularly of spiritual or religious ideas.
This was a “yoga high”! I was a little worried about the chanting of mantras, I did not think it was something for me. But I could not believe the emotions I felt after. It was amazing, beautiful, and joyous. Opening the heart and feeling the energy of every single person in the room was pure Love.
Teaching our first class
Many people (not all) in their yoga teacher training tend to fear teaching their first class. I, being one of them! Yea, I’ve learned all of this over the past month, but actually putting together my own sequence, knowing how to correctly cue, aligning students, and standing in front of a class for an entire hour..! That’s frightening!
In reality, for the first few minutes, you’re likely to be nervous, but after the initial start it just becomes more natural, your nerves fade, and you just start flowing! At the end of your practice, you will see how relaxed everyone is as they lie in savasana (corpse pose). You’ll few accomplished, joyful, and at ease. Your fellow classmates, students, and supporters will share so many kind words and will celebrate your success with you!
One Yoga, 200-Hour Graduates!
Where we are now
2 weeks after becoming a certified yoga instructor:
John had no intention of teaching yoga upon arrival at the YTT, but since then he has been immersing himself in yogic philosophy books like The Bhagavad Gita and The Upanishads. He has been guiding me through a guided meditation at home, which is incredibly helpful for me! And I believe he will eventually look at guiding meditation practices and he would like to work one-on-one with people.
I, however, go to Oneonta Bootcamp Extreme (OBX), a couple of time’s a week, and after our hour-long, intense workout, I instruct yoga to help slow our heart rate down and to stretch all the muscles we just worked. Bringing in mindfulness and fast recovery. I am teaching it to people who intensely workout and have never really done yoga. And as they thank me at the end of practice, and note that they didn’t realize how much they actually needed this, and how relaxed it makes them feel, that makes me feel so blessed to be able to share my knowledge and experience with all of them.
I am still working on my confidence and teaching methodology before moving forward with other teaching opportunities. I have also been asked to teach and speak about yoga at different events on campus, so this will be in the near future. And will allow me to build relationships with new faces.