My Yoga Teacher Training Journal

The last two months has been filled with a lot of focus on myself and reestablishing my vision for myself. It’s so easy to get distracted with life and outside influences that sometimes it’s good to withdraw from the world and seek within.

This is what the yoga teacher training was for me and so much more. I could never put into one single sentence or even one post about what this teacher training has done for me. This has forever changed me and, all the rises and pitfalls of life prior to this all make sense now. Below is a brief diary I kept during my course, but at times I was too busy or too tired to just write a single sentence. The first couple of days I was just adapting to the environment as you will read, but as time went on the whole process was starting to make sense and I was fascinated by the learning.

Day 1
I remember driving up to the Ashram in the Tuk Tuk. I had a million thoughts racing through my head. It’s about half an hour outside of Rishikesh town, in the middle of some farm lands and some forest. I was just hoping I wasn’t being taken to some dingy place. I pulled up and saw a lot of Japanese people sitting around. I knew it would be like this, as Vini, the main teacher, lives part of the year in Japan and has a few studios there. I got assigned to my room, which was fine – pleasant. (Meaning there was going to take a bit of getting used to for this city girl).

The welcome by the priest started at 3pm, followed by a dinner and then an evening Satsang with Vini. In the food hall we ate in silence and had to repeat these mantra’s before eating – almost like a prayer. Not being very religious, this is challenging to me. The food is eaten on metal plates and we have to wash it up ourselves after – another challenge to me. It’s not about the washing up, it’s about the hygiene. So far, I have met two French girls, a British guy, two Swiss girls and 1 Dutch girl. I have tried speaking to 1 or 2 Japanese girls but it’s hard. 90% of the students are Japanese. Vini seems really nice and so is Tina, his assistant. I think it will be a good month and get easier as time goes on.

Day 2
We started at 6:30am with pranayama. We were taught to become conscious of our breath and how the body and mind connects with our breath. After we had asana for two hours where Vini focused very much on warming up the spine. The class was a slow pace and meditative. It’s cold here in the morning’s, so it feels very different to practicing yoga at home as I usually do power heated vinyasa classes.

Day 3
Today I learnt about Kapalabhati and Bhastrika pranayama where you forcefully inhale and exhale. The point of pranayama is to watch your breath and be conscious in the moment. In asana we did more cat cow and learnt how the spine is made up of 3 locks. Learning how to work with these locks and strengthen them will help to master the movements.

Day 4
In the pranayama this morning, we did the forcing of the inhaling and exhaling of the breath again. The point is to train your brain to become conscious of the breath. We need to be able to “see” beyond our thoughts. We were asked to do one kind deed today, something natural. Yesterday we were presented with karma yoga activities for the duration of our stay at the ashram. Mine is to clean the Shala every day after lunch.

In the asana today, we started learning bridge or setuband asana. I can already feel how much stronger my body is after 3 days. In the Satsang, we did a very long meditation where we said Om about 50 times. We also had the Satsang in darkness, we could hear an Indian wedding in the background which sounded magical. I was just wishing to be part of it, but also to just witness the sounds of it and acknowledge someone else’s happiness was also beautiful.

Day 5
I am stiff and sore, I am tired. I know this pain will pass and I am happy where I am. I finally feel settled; the nature around here is beautiful especially in the morning when we do pranayama. This morning Vini showed us the correct posture during meditation. For some people it’s better to have their knees slightly elevated, for others it’s better to have their legs closer to the ground. Vini is a very caring person and wants to make sure everyone is comfortable. I mentioned the food today, as I am battling with the food. I already feel like I have lost weight. I asked for more fresh food. I am satisfied and not starving, but I don’t really like the dhal.

Day 6
I am feeling really recharged. My yoga practice this morning was much better. Tomorrow we are doing the nasal cleanse (shat kriya) I’m a little nervous for it. The food wasn’t great today, we had kitchari for dinner (Little did I know at the time we would eat the same dinner for the duration of our stay). We had a really nice Satsang though. We sang a few mantras and Hiroko (the Japanese assistant) played the guitar. She asked if anyone else wanted to come play and Mitoko, the one Japanese guy who is a musician came up to play. It was really beautiful; one song was about the sky and the other about the ocean. Everyone was mesmerized.

Day 7
We had the day off which was nice. We still did the morning pranayama where we did the nasal cleansing. We had to insert this rubber band up the nostril and try to get it to the back of the throat and pull it out. I couldn’t get mine past the upper part of my nose. We then did the rinsing where you pour saline solution through one nostril and it runs out the other nostril. I enjoyed that. After, we did a short asana practice, then had aarti and lunch. We took a tuk tuk to Tapovan. I went for a 90-minute signature massage which was really nice, it went so quickly. Afterwards I got my one pair of pants repaired at the shop I bought it from; the people here are so kind. They didn’t expect anything in return. I got some essentials at the Organic store – Tatt V. Afterwards I went to sit at The Beatles Café. I just had a chai masala; I wasn’t even craving their burger. I was sitting on the couch and then this guy came and asked me if he could sit on the other side of the couch. When he spoke to the waiter, I could hear he was South African. I asked him and he said he was from Cape Town. We spoke for about 40 minutes; it was really nice to speak to a South African. After, we parted ways and he wished me good luck. I want to meet more people like this, who don’t have alternate intentions. Before I went home, I bought a book from the bookstore I like called “The tantric path to higher consciousness.” I can’t wait to read it.

Day 8
I feel really restored today. My pranayama and meditation was much better as well as my twisting.
Learning today – Your habits cause limitations.
– The highest teaching is to know yourself
– Only through concentration can you go deeper
– When the limit crosses the limit of your body, it becomes asana.
– Samadhi: Deeper into the highest self.

Day 9
I am having trouble with my mind wandering. I spoke to Vini after the class and he said I must be patient. I am just learning to breathe. There is a gentle balance between controlling the mind and letting the mind be free. Your mind is like a car, if you’re not controlling the drive, your mind will.

The meal today was the best yet. I ate and actually felt satisfied. It was a rice dish with green beans, mung beans, salad with beets, curried potato with green pepper, pumpkin soup and lassi. I didn’t like the dhal as usual. I tried to sleep in my break, but it’s difficult as I’m sharing a room and there’s always people around. I came to the appreciation that I am alive. This was a pure and genuine feeling, and I’ve been feeling better ever since.

Concentration – when you show your mind what you want. When your concentration gets very deep, your mind is on the backseat. Your mind won’t bother you. This is meditation. When the mind is feeling fear, it gets very sensitive. It shows us stuff we don’t even want to see; therefore, we have to go deeper. If the mind is deep into something, it cannot respond to the small things. The mind has a limitation to its depth, but at the deepest part it’s bliss. When you try to control your mind, your mind rebels. It will find small things to like and dislike. These are people usually with shallow minds.

Day 10
During meditation say “So” meaning higher consciousness “Hum” meaning Individual self. Decide what you want your thoughts to bring for you. Concentrate your mind to the here and now will bring Peace, Ease and Clarity.

In the Satsang we did the candle detox -Trataka. You stare at the candle and look at the outer little flame and the tip of the flame. Then you close your eyes and look into your third eye and try to visualize the flame. It makes some people feel emotional and tears start streaming down your face.

Day 11
The mind is a modification of the truth, according to the structure we have created. If you are bound to something or attached, your mind starts creating a problem around it and a chain of emotions start coming to you. To stop your mind from modifications, you have to detach yourself – Patanjali.

You feel stuckness because attachments are getting bigger. As a child you don’t feel it because there is always progress. To have progress you have to open the doors that present themselves to you. Those who are fearful will stay in the fear and will not move forward. The more your mind is developing in a shallow way, the more it is in fear.

You have to continuously practice detachment to get to the lightness of the mind. There is much more than just me that I am not aware of. You have to concentrate to get into the space of what you are focused on and rise above it.

Day 12
Pranayama is the universal energy that exists everywhere. Unless you get your energy controlled, you will not be able to concentrate. Pranayama is not going to work if you’ve got your mind focused on 10 different things. Pranayama is about creating the right environment using breath as a tool. You need to assign a time every day to do pranayama and silence the mind.

Day 13
This morning we had a silent walk to the Ganges. It was so beautiful and amazing to see the local people in the village getting ready to start their day. It is so humbling to take it all in and also to see all the little kids running around and waving at us. Once we got to the beach, we had a mediation session. I felt really connected, it was a special experience. I’ve been here almost 2 weeks and almost halfway through my course. I have felt a shift in myself from today.

Day 14
Pranayama try to create space in the breath. Breathing in, holding, exhaling, holding. Must be done silently. Eventually to reach a sattva state. This kind of breathing is to calm the body, connect the mind, observe the thoughts through movement of the body with correct diet, sleep and asana.

The role of yoga is not to show off to anyone – it’s to find the deepness within yourself. How we see the world and how we experience the world depends on our mental, physical and energetic state. Fear and attachment and desires are all-natural states of being human. The point is to be aware of these things. Unless a person can come out of their desires and fears, they are not ready for this practice.

I learnt a lot about the history of yoga and Hinduism today and found it very interesting. Hatha yoga is an ancient meditative practice that didn’t have any philosophical reference to it. The Hatha that is taught today is adapted from the Patanjali yoga sutra.

Day 15
Everything that exists is made up of the five great elements. Space, air, fire, water and earth. Some people have an abundance or lack of one or more of these elements. The spinal region helps you to create a balance with the elements through movement of the spine and breath. If you are not removing the blockages, it will affect you in some aspect of your life.

Ayurveda says always take the 6 tastes into your meal: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent, bitter. Conscious eating incorporates all these elements. If you have a healthy spine, you have a healthy mind. The spine is connected to consciousness. Whatever element you become conscious about, activates that chakra. All the different healings, e.g. sound, reiki, eating, mantras activate these chakras making your more aware.

I had a bit of a challenging today with pranayama and asana. But I am determined to get better at everything, I practiced the headstand for the first time today, I was finally shown how to do it correctly. Even though there have been certain challenges with this course I am so happy I decided to do it. Today and tomorrow is the most beautiful full moon and Holi festival – the biggest festival in India. I can hear all the celebrations outside and the beating of the drums. This place (India) has such a magnetizing energy.

Day 16
Today was Holi festival which was really fun. We did a morning pranayama, 3-hour asana, lunch and 1-hour lecture. Then we went straight into the party which involved colourful paints to rub all over everyone and water fighting. There was a guy playing the drums the whole time. It must have lasted about 4 hours. We also had a really big food feast of Indian desserts and sweets. After all this my energy was completely depleted. We still had to dress up in saris for our dinner that evening, but I wasn’t in the mood. I felt drained. I obviously did dress up just in time for the dinner (I missed out on some of the photos), but it was okay. We then had a bonfire after the dinner and played some games. I wasn’t being very enthusiastic and luckily, I didn’t have to participate much, but it was still a good energy to be around.

Day 17
The definition of Hatha Yoga is to get the full extension of each movement and to hold each pose for a few breaths. The aim is to find the problem areas in the body and to work on it. Hatha Yoga is not about burning calories.

Today was a good day, I am starting to understand pranayama so much more. I’m also enjoying the asana classes more. I’ve been keeping my energy more to myself, conserving my energy. I realized that at Holi festival I was giving to much of my energy towards others. I also think it’s better during this process to not share everything you’re going through with other people. My mantra is to always be kind and to treat people how I want to be treated. I can also take a lot away from the Japanese culture, they’re always genuine and friendly.

Day 18
Today I found out my spiritual name is Chandni which means moonlight. We were also put into our groups for our final exam. Things are starting to get serious now.

Day 19
I did the nasal cleansing properly for the first time today. I felt really lifted after that. I feel like an old heavy energy (burden) has been lifted out of me. It was our day off, so I went to Rishikesh and met with my friend Hitesh. He has a real calm, soothing energy about him. We went on his bike across Ram Jhula and then to a café for lassi. We had some really interesting chats. He’s very interesting and intelligent.

Day 20
I decided I’m going to spend one night in Rishikesh before I fly home. I’m just going with the flow and wherever the wind blows me. The day before yesterday, I also did wheel for the first time on my own. I’m really proud of myself. I am also feeling more “open” in my headstand practice against the wall.

Day 21
Yesterday I felt really tired after the day off. I had coffee at 4pm and I haven’t had coffee in 3 weeks. It really affected me, and I only got to sleep after 1am. We’ve had film crew here the last 2 days filming for Vini. I’ve been feeling a lot more relaxed this week, especially because my anxiety has dropped. It makes me feel like I am not ready to go home yet. I wanted to be home for my birthday but otherwise I’m not in a rush to go home. We only have 4 days of teaching days left, before off day, exam day and graduation. It seems like there is a lot to get through still, but it will probably go quickly. I am looking forward to my freedom again. But I have met some really nice people here too and I hope I stay in contact with some of them.

Day 22
Yesterday was the most challenging day I’ve had so far. I had a lot of emotions coming up around the headstand. It brought up an old emotion from when I was 12. I can’t believe my body has been holding onto that for over 20 years. I want to get over my fear of doing headstands. I know the basics, so I just need to be patient. We’ve got 3 days left of learning (including today) before we do our practical. I’m going to try enjoy it all and not be too serious. By now I know the routine, so my mind just needs to concentrate.
We did 6 hours asana practice (which is insane), our first solo pranayama and 1.5-hour lecture, but no Satsang. I also did a short video interview for Yogavini. I really love everything I’ve done here. Its opened up my world to so much. Its been tough at times, but I wouldn’t change it.

Day 25
The last 2 days have been up and down in emotions but a good reflection on myself. I am feeling content and at peace and that I got what I came here for. 2 weeks ago, I was feeling suffocated and drained. Now I feel free, more in control of my mind and at peace. I feel I have gotten more in touch with my soul and now my body. I want to care and nourish myself from here. I saw the ayurvedic doctor yesterday. I am going to try the treatment he gave me once I get home. I really want to live a more naturalistic lifestyle. And I want to teach and share what I live for.

We have the test on Monday. It feels like they have given us a lot of work to get through, but I am just going to trust in the process. I feel light and I just want to share this movement. I just need to go forward and do it. Five qualities I want people to know me for are kindness, compassion, humour, love and knowledge.

Day 26
I am feeling a deep sense of calm today. My meditation and pranayama practice are getting better. My wish is to continue feeling like this and doing the meditation every morning and follow the diet. I feel like I have been neglecting and damaging my body the last few years. I am very grateful I decided to do this journey. Tomorrow we have our final test and I’m looking forward to it. Today I am going to study, practice and take time out for myself. I can’t wait to continue this journey at home and see what doors open up for me. I would like to come back to India, it feels like a second home to me now. I would like to come back to the Ayurvedic doctor’s retreat in Kerala.

Day 27
Today I’m doing my practical and I’m so excited. I practiced with Nick yesterday and he said he really liked my class and my calm and serene voice. I need to be a little more assertive in my postures though. I’m really looking forward to our celebration later!

Day 28
I can’t believe it, I’ve made it. Yesterday went really well. I loved my class that I gave, and I really want to look at teaching when I get back. I fly home tomorrow and I’m sad to be leaving India. I just love this country, it’s a place where I can be free, I really want to come back soon. I want to go to Kerala and Mysore. So much has changed inside me since I started this course. I’m loving the person I’m becoming. I just want to vibrate this energy to everyone I meet. I didn’t think at the beginning of this course that I wanted to teach but I think it’s mostly because of my fear of public speaking. I really enjoy my voice and want to develop it more so that I can take it further. This can be done by singing mantra’s during meditation which I love. I’m going to continue this journey and become a positive influence to others. I’ve got so much love to bear and I just want to share it with the world.

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