If someone asked me to sum up my yoga teacher training experience in three words I wouldn't be able to do it. Five, ten or 15 words would also be tough! Why? Because it’s a journey, an amazing journey of self discovery with some of the biggest highs and some low lows that allow you to experience life changing shifts that are hard to convey with words alone.
I decided to do my teacher training for a number of reasons however one of my main purposes was to find direction again. After nearly five years in the fast-paced, exciting but tiring world of PR I had become lost and confused about what it was I wanted out of life. I was tired of ticking the boxes and jumping through the hoops I had set myself without feeling the fulfilment that I’d anticipated yet I didn't really know what the answer was to turn this around. So, after a lot of thought I took a leap of faith and handed in my notice to become a yoga teacher.
When it came to choosing which teacher training course to take the decision was slightly easier. I was committed to my current studio, Hot Power Yoga. I loved vinyasa style yoga as it provided me with the physical work out I craved whilst delivering all the calming and therapeutic effects my mind and body needed. Equally, I loved the teachers there - all graduates of the program. Their style really resonated with me and I felt a connection with whoever was leading the class. What’s more I loved the overall vibe, it was relaxed, friendly and really had a community feel to it. That isn’t to say I didn’t visit other studios before making my decision. Whilst my heart was with HPY I wanted to ensure I made an informed decision and I took the time to take classes with multiple other teachers at different studios. I must admit, it was nice to try elsewhere, to hit refresh and experience other ways of teaching, to listen to different perspectives and terminology and to meet new people however my gut hankered back to what I knew. The factor which ultimately sealed the deal for me was a foundations programme offered by HPY. Taking place over three days it provided an insight into the teacher training journey. During those three days alone I experienced shifts and came away feeling positive and ready. The decision was made and I signed up not long after.
Despite how excited I was to begin I can’t deny that I was nervous. I worried I wasn't going to be strong or fit enough and that everyone would be better than me. Equally, I was concerned I wouldn't get out of it what I hoped, that my purpose wouldn't be met or satisfied. On reflection, these concerns where unnecessary. Every single individual and experience on the program was AMAZING and I wouldn't have changed them for the world. What's more, my body amazed me and day upon day it did the practice. no matter how tired or sore it may have felt. Finally, my purpose was met, satisfied and then expanded and satisfied so far beyond that its unbelievable.
Whilst there were so many positive experiences throughout the program the relationships that I made along the way really stand out. From starting the course with a group of strangers I have been lucky enough to forge friendships that I will take through life and I am so grateful for everything that was shared and what they gave that allowed me to grow and receive the gains that were experienced.
What is more, my own practice improved considerably. Not only was my body stronger, I had a solid understanding of what each pose required, its benefits, as well as how to flow through the sequence effectively. All of a sudden I could practice on my mat at home as well as in class which was GREAT. What’s more, I could do this in a way that allowed me to have fun, to play around, to test my body, to mix up the order of poses based on how I felt that day, both physically and mentally. It was liberating and gave me a sense of freedom.
Equally, I loved learning! Not only did I learn things from a book, I learned about the body, about how every single one of us is different and I learned about myself. When I said it was a journey of self discovery I wasn’t exaggerating. I was pushed emotionally to let go and the release that came from this allowed a stronger more positive person to emerge as a result. Whilst I am still the same person I am also totally different. I feel more positive, more in control and much more equipped to tackle things head on. Don’t get me wrong, I still worry about things, I do still self doubt BUT now I have the tools to deal with these sort of concerns and turn them into a positive situation. It was life changing and the best part is, I am only at the start of my journey.
That isn't to say there weren't tough time however. Yes my practice improved dramatically but physically it was tough. Whilst my body outdid itself and continued to hit the mat no matter how tired or sore it was there is no denying that it hurt. Some days I didn't want to practice and the mental battle I had with myself was frequent. Over time, I got stronger and subsequently the mind cut me a break from saying ‘I couldn't do it' or ‘I was tired and deserved a rest’ but it certainly felt like a war of attrition at times.
To add to this, the changes I had to make to my diet - no sugar and caffeine in particular - dramatically reduced my energy in the beginning. Before starting the program I ate chocolate daily, literally every single day and sipped an average of eight green teas a day which are packed with caffeine. What is more, I loved a glass of wine at the weekend - to me there was nothing better than the first sip on a Friday night - and saying goodbye to all of these things overnight was tough. Physically I lacked energy and had severe headaches for the first dew days which was hard. However, once I had got over the initial withdrawal i felt clearer, sharper and more alive. The haze had lifted and I had more energy. Post training some naughty habits have eased their way back in but not on the same scale and caffeine has gone altogether. It's an amazing feeling and for me, a big achievement.
The third big battle for me was FOMO. Ah the fear of missing out - something I had suffered from for as long as I can remember. I am so blessed to have an amazing group of family and friends around me however, in order to really embark on the journey properly I was getting up at 6.30am every weekend and not making it home until 8pm most evenings. When I did get in I was tired and knew I needed to rest ahead of the next day. My friends however were in weekend mode and I found it really hard to say no to social gatherings, parties, wild nights. However it needed to be done,I had made a commitment to myself and to my body and I needed to honour that. Don't get me wrong I didn't become a hermit, I spoke to friends daily, still had my family on speed dial and had lovely catch ups over coffee (or hot water and lemon in my case) but the partying, the nights of getting to bed at 5am and the alcohol fuelled catch ups came to a halt and it made me sad. There were times when I lay in bed imagining what i was missing out on, the fun that I could have been having but when I look back I realise that nothing changed. I still had amazing weekends with amazing people they just took on a new meaning, they had a new focus. What is more, I didn't miss the hangovers which I famously suffered for or the lost hours which I normally spent in bed or on the sofa because I was tired after a big night. At the time, this awareness didn't always ease the FOMO but on reflection it was totally worth it and I’m so glad I honoured the program and the promise I made to myself to give it 100%.
Regardless of the ups and downs I experienced during my training I don't have one single regret. It was the most amazing, eye opening experience of my life and one that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. There are few times I have felt happier than walking to training when everyone else is still in bed, reflecting on what I had learnt and excitedly contemplating what was to come. I thank and honour each person that shared the journey with me, to the studio and to Dylan Ayaloo who guided me through and brought me to where I am today. This experience was a gift and I feel blessed every single day that I was able to embrace it.