Posted on June 3, 2020
Yoga is inherently a mindfulness practice - shifting your awareness to reclaiming control of your Love, Peace and Joy.
My Name is Joy and I just took my first 200hr Yoga Alliance Teacher Training
March - April of the year 2020, almost three years after attending my first ever beginner’s yoga class in 2017 after suddenly losing my Mum and reaching out to Yoga as a way of working through my grief.
Over the period of time between 2017 and 2020 I instinctively awakened to an awareness within me that I was onto a practice that I had not only come to love immensely but that I wanted to share MY experience with everybody!
This realization was soon made clear after I attended my second season of the international Lamu Yoga Festival in Lamu Island in early 2019 and taking some classes with the most inspiring teacher I know so far - Mrs. Leyla Meredith. My last class of the event was a Yin Yoga class with Leyla, I was late to the class so my favorite spot at the back of the class was taken & fully occupied,Leyla directed me to the front of the class right next to her mat! The pressure was real!
I ended up loving that class the most! She read to us the most captivating story- about Lord Shiva I believe - in her beautiful voice that carried me through the discomfort of every long held Yin pose. I was so present on my mat that Yoga finally resonated with a part of me deeper than muscle, tissue, and bone, & sunk deep into my being - I felt the most incredible sense of connection light and vibration. It was Bliss!
Looking back at the moment, I now understand that it was most definitely an alignment of purpose from the Universe showing me that this would be the foundation of my path in life, my life’s dharma or purpose.
I suddenly had this overwhelming need to learn more, be more, do more.
And just like that, my journey of living my Yogi dream had begun….
The 200hr YTT (Yoga Teachers Training)
Meeting Leyla in person this time as my teacher and guide during the YTT, learning under her, sharing in her light and wisdom has been such a gift. The best part of MY story is that all good things come in threes! Beautifully packaged in the form of Leyla’s co-founder and lead teacher Payal Gori – intelligent and compassionate almost to a fault and third; The most phenomenal yoganatomy teacher- Sarah Bury who made fundamental musculoskeletal physiology not just easy to understand but loads of fun too!
There was no denying that the yoga teacher training was going to change my life big time!
Initially the retreat was meant to be at the scenic coastal island of Lamu but with concerns around security and safety, a call was taken to have the training hosted in the equally serene coastal town of Watamu.
This venue came exclusively with the Friendly owner Mani, his meticulous members of staff, a well versed Chef Anderson with his mad skills on making healthy and delicious vegetarian and vegan meals and snacks – Mouthwatering Good!
Taking this course with 13 other like-minded yogis equally interested in learning and increasing their depth of knowledge and committed to themselves, and helping others do the same was a privilege and a deep honor for me.
The friendships made in Yoga Teacher Training are unique. You are all going through such deep transformation together and this experience will forever be an invaluable support for life.
The structure of the program was done in such a way that it helps cultivate and support a consistency in our practice that will be invaluable no matter where this training takes us, learning techniques that are usually not as accessible by taking a regular class. It marks a commitment to self-growth, spiritual growth, and transformation.
The general curriculum includes;
Yoga History and Philosophy
Meditation and Pranayama theory and techniques, yoga nidra, journaling, silent hours.
Vinyasa yoga and Yin Yoga - Asanas, Asanas and more Asanas - Sanskrit names of each of the postures, as well as their physical and emotional benefits. The benefits and contradictions of each posture.
Techniques, Training, and Yoga Teaching Methodology - guidance on how to create sequences and flow for our Vinyasa yoga classes, communication skills, as well as time management.
Anatomy & Physiology - These sessions include alignment for the yoga postures, anatomy of the human body, and also be extended to the subtle anatomy of the energy body (including the nadis, the chakras).
An array of related subjects and discussions on areas such as trauma management, ethics, Ayurveda, mantras, OM, among others… Yoga for business, social media and marketing skills
Practicum - You get to showcase your experience of everything you have learned and teach yoga in front of your peers in a loving, supportive environment. This is the part where your unique flavor or style of teaching comes in. You Observe, teach, give feedback, receive feedback… and REPEAT.
Fun times – The shared Joy, meals, laughter, jokes, swimming on the pool, sharing our lives, being vulnerable, tears, fears and wins alike – Priceless!
Regardless of whether you ever teach a yoga class or not, the program ensures that you become a resource that will begin to impact all those around you and those to whom you share your life with.
1. Increase in my Depth of Knowledge
It not only provided an opportunity to dive deep into the philosophy, mythology and history of the practice of Yoga (the Vedas, yoga sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad gita) which gave me a sense of being connected to a lineage of knowledge and wisdom beyond my conscious mind.
but it also created an opportunity to learn about ourselves. Understanding and exploring ourselves as physical, mental, and spiritual beings and how we can connect those aspects of ourselves at the core of the YTT. It was certainly more than just learning how to teach a physical pose — it was about getting comfortable and confident in who we really are.
2. Acquiring a New Perspective;
I will never forget how my perspective as a human changed during my Yoga Teacher Training. Having the opportunity to learn, discuss and observe the human body, mind, and soul from a new perspective, with a sense of curiosity and wonder, opened up my eyes to see myself and others in a whole new light.
You see, the ancient practice of yoga encourages one to look at the mind as an adaptable component of the self that one can mold as you see fit.
Realizing that the limitations placed on us as shaped by society and self-imposed affords an opportunity to seize control of our lives. Embracing this new perspective empowers us to step into our future with inner strength, no matter the circumstances.
3. Finding Balance
In this world of take-take-take and the constant need to give all of your time and energy to stay ahead of the curve, we often feel out-of-balance.
The drive to be competitive and DO ALL THE THINGS can be exhausting.
One of the take outs for me in Participating in the YTT was to learn about balance — not just in the physical poses, but in how I conduct my life. I learnt how to balance my self-care with what I can give to others, and how to balance my impact on the planet with what I give and take.
I learnt one of the best ways to balance the chitter or chatter of the mind with my breath, with silence, meditation and journaling techniques that balance my mind and body. Not only are these benefits great for me, but they also have a positive impact on my community, family and friends. Learning how to balance myself is a great tool to being a teacher as well, it allows me space to help others find balance in themselves as well
4. The art of expression
Personally, one of the most essential positive shift and gains was learning the techniques of cueing and how to teach/ express and to communicate better with others and in a more effective way.
Effective communication including the art of active listening, mindful observation and awareness is not just essential to assist in executing asanas safely, but also to express my thoughts and feelings more completely, to being vulnerable and to building trust.
5. The Timing and my gratitude;
Needless to say the COVID 19 has affected all areas of our lives. Our training was also not spared and in the end and we had to adjourn earlier than anticipated and progress the YTT online.
I believe this universal disruption of every aspect of our lives was an opportunity, albeit an extraordinarily painful one, for me to learn the difference between reaction and response.
To evaluate what is truly important and worthy of my life force. To see what I DO have, not just what I’ve lost or stand to lose. To understand what self-care I needed to feel the proverbial ground beneath my feet.
To explore how I can start to put my practice into play immediately and look beyond the self. To get creative with how I stay connected and support and hold space for MYSELF and others. To innovate.
In my gratitude journal, one of my deepest observation was in the perfect timing into the start of my YTT. One or two weeks later and it would have been impossible to travel following the worldwide bans and shutting down of geographical borders.
Am so grateful to God to have been afforded this time, opportunity and privilege to attend this training in whatever form or manner at exactly the time when I needed it the most. I eventually began to weave the physical practice with the energetic, spiritual and mindful practices of yoga – to see myself and my interactions as more than just minutes of life but as moments, important moments, allowing me to grow more than I ever thought possible
I wholeheartedly have come to agree that the practice of yoga is a refuge. It is a refuge in which to cultivate the tools and resources to be in graceful relationship with all that arises, come what may (The love and the light as well as the pandemics and fear and everything in between)
Yoga was never meant to be a place to escape from the world but a way of life – A tool to immerse myself wholly into living my life fully. As the Bhagavad Gita reads - It’s not sinful to fulfill your duty in life. The source of evil is not in our actions but in our passions, desires and the intentions behind the actions.
There’s simply no way to describe everything that one feels and experiences in the YTT with Karuna Yoga Journeys. My words will never do justice into how special of an experience it is. One can only experience it for themselves.
If my 20-year-old-self were sitting here next to me right now I bet she would gasp at everything I have done and wonder where that spark came from. I have had many moments of influence and insight and each has led me to the next phase of this experience.
I think now of how I refer to yoga as my practice – because it’s more than a crazy leg-behind-the-head posture, I know if I can handle balance and breath in challenging postures, postures that don’t seem familiar to me, and flows that are uncertain, then I can take those skills off my mat and into my daily life and find the balance and the breath in all the moments life throws at me.
The practice will always be with me and there for me. In fact, all the practices that have taken root in my being are now available to me to be able navigate situations of all kinds be it health scares, career, pandemics and fears for my family, friends, my community and for our future.
My practice is already in Me. It is Me.
All I can say for now is, it’s a gift for life.
There is no higher privilege in this world than to be of service to another human being.
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