Some people like extreme sports, or just sports, or watching box sets or solving problems, it seems for me, I like the inward journey…
The girls I met through the pervert incident (previous blog) were in Goa to begin a YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) in a beautiful place called Ashiyana. After three days of bonding with these awesome chica’s I tentatively asked at the very last minute if I could join their group 🙂
I felt unattached to the outcome. A part of me resisted the idea, more study, restricted free time, more ‘processing’ which I had become so tired of by the time I graduated in August ‘16. But then another part of me tuned in, I had not planned to come to Goa, now I had connected with great people that I wanted to be with. If they accepted me onto the course, that would be my answer.
And so it began… Night one, we all dressed in white for a beautiful initiation ceremony and were given flower garlands, bindi dots and a red cord tied around our wrists to remind us that we were all connected and on this journey together.
Our days went something like this:
7.30 – 9.30 Asana Practice (Yoga as most people know it)
9.30 -10.15 Breakfast in Silence
10.30 – 12.30 Philosophy / Anatomy & Philosophy / Sanskrit (Depending on the week)
12.30 – 1.30 Asana Lab
1.30 – 1.45 Reflections (journaling)
1.45 – 2.15 Meditation
2.15 – 4.30 Lunch and Break (sunbathing, shopping, eating Magnums)
4.30 – 6.30 Philosophy / Anatomy & Philosophy / Sanskrit
7 – 8 Dinner
8 – 9.30 Chanting, Talks, Watching musicians, Movie
After 9.30pm we were to remain in silence until after breakfast the following morning…
Ashiyana, which translates as ‘Home’ is a beautifully designed sanctuary set behind back waters of Mandrem beach. I loved the simple elegant features and I was repeatedly amazed by the attention to detail. You can very much feel the heartbeat of this place, it is well-loved and well-managed just like a good home should be 🙂
Each day we would eagerly wait for the schedule to be written on the black board. There are four yoga shala’s in constant use. Whilst our group was 27, there were other retreats happening at the same time, so I imagine the shala schedule shuffle was a challenge for the co-ordinators and at times the black board would magically change throughout the day. For some reason you just end up staring at this board repeatedly all day whether it be of a photo on your phone or the 3D master piece!
My biggest adversion to start with was the Anatomy & Physiology. Not having done anything like this since GCSE Biology, suddenly I was being faced with science, learning things I really ought to know, but don’t, like how I breathe (?!) and muscles which are a mystery to me under what I decided must be a deep layer of fascia, mmmm!
It was back to school vibes, feeling resistant to learning, giggling in class, groups forming, gossip, flirtations. Maybe not so yogic?! But c’mon, too much naval gazing and introspection can drive you crazy, so you have to strike a balance 😉
On a serious note, this is a unique container to find yourself in for one month. Deep physical, emotional and spiritual work is going to activate your ego, bring up your shadows, shake up your nervous system. A YTT is like boarding an emotional roller coaster.
In a nutshell it felt like this for me:
Week 1 Information overload and exhaustion
Week 2 Trying to remain present
Week 3 Elation, emotional breakdowns
Week 4 Exhaustion, physical pains, sadness it is coming to an end
It also ended up being a laughter workshop much of the time. The evening revision sessions (where we were allowed to break silence) learning Anatomy, Sanskrit words, Pantanjali using our own weird and wonderful ways to remember strange names. For example, ‘Verabadasana’ – Warrior pose – Vera is a bad ass!
A natural by product of study is constant sweet cravings. A lot of conversation and decision making was around chocolate balls, finding coffee and what the daily cake would be served after dinner. The food was plentiful, delicious and difficult to go light on. So if you have a fantasy about doing a YTT and coming back half size, forget it.
But ofcourse, you finish feeling stronger, firmer, internally cleaner and spiritually clearer. After two years of learning so much about the power and healing force of Love, the physical asana’s of yoga helped me integrate this. It dropped down from my head, into my heart in a beautiful and unexpected way.
The structure of the course, gets you teaching small things from day two. So they ease you in with bite-sized doses. Naturally we felt nervous to teach, adjust and massage for the first time. In week three we taught a 20 minute class. I felt ecstatic afterwards, I loved the experience!
Our final exam was teaching a 1 hour class. I was in the very last group, energy levels were low, but the class went well, despite some left and right issues!
I could never have imagined being able to teach a one hour class.It was truly a magical experience to see how we all flowed to this stage, supporting one another, practicing with one another. Giving one another time and helpful feedback.
I think we had very a special group, I felt a closeness to some of my class mates that is a rareity to find. There are many take aways from this experience, but the friendships were definitely number one. I was fortunate that I did not have any preconceptions of what it was going to be like, it was the perfect way to start my travels in India especially as I gained some travel buddies to meet up with since graduation.
My main intention was to walk away with a regular self practice and I hope to teach in some capacity. Even though my yoga class attendance has not been consistent over the years, I have always felt a calling to yoga and I have had some powerful experiences on the matt.
How awesome that I ended up doing a YTT in Mother India, the very source of Yoga. In the stunning surroundings of Ashiyana and Mandrem beach. I did very much feel at home in this place. I imagine myself returning, like many of their guests and students do time and time again.