The Union of Body, Mind, and Soul Through High Quality of Training
Starting a yoga practice can be a decision that contributes to various improvements in your life and wellbeing. When my partner and I decided to take our routine to the next level and attend yoga teacher training, we never imagined the endless amounts of Ashrams and Shalas we’d have to choose from. We opted to take our practice deeper; only now how to find the right place to learn?
This led us to lengthy Internet searches, emails and questions. Only after attending and luckily experiencing an amazingly fulfilling teacher training, we are confident about why we had such a positive time learning the ancient art of Yoga in Nepal.
3 Fundamental Attributes to Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training
It is through specific qualities of the Student, Teacher, and Environment that helped us understand why we had found the right teacher training.
Yoga in a simplistic sense means Union. You can think of the Student, Teacher, and Environment as 3 Pillars that come together to support the Yogi by instilling the proper tools to complete the yoga training with the greatest benefits. The knowledge attained will enable you to design the ideal life: free from stress, imbalances, and turbulence. It will help you to create harmony, understand the self, and become aware of the boundless beauty of life in our own experiences.
The Student’s attitude, understanding, and willingness to learn determines the quality of their experience during the training and its effects on establishing constructive daily rituals, and building optimistic mindsets.
The Teacher’s duty is to captivate the student with genuine passion, wisdom, and purpose. The Guru should invoke the student’s latent potential and draw it out all the while motivating the Yogis and Yoginis through exhaustions of both mental and physical plains.
The Environment must be yogic. Who is teaching you is just as important as where you are being taught. Is it a place of spiritual importance? Can you trace back thousands of years of traditions and prominent Gurus? An authentic environment can take your experience to the next level.
Our Story: The Students
While travelling throughout Southeast Asia, we decided to educate ourselves and elevate our yoga practice. We asked ourselves why did we want to proceed with a formal training? This is a great place to start if you are thinking of attending a certified yoga teacher training.
What motivates you to attend a YTT?
For us, it was to deepen our practice and attain knowledge of the asanas. Becoming physically fit and mentally strong was convincing enough. I never realized until attending the teacher training how physically demanding meditating is. I understood that yoga is more than touching your toes and performing asanas. Maintaining an upright seated position for an hour can be treacherous for your body and is a physical requirement if you ever want to develop traditional sitting meditation to gain mental resilience and control of your mind.
You need to possess patience and perseverance. To become a confident yoga teacher, you must go through discomforts and push through them in order to watch the fruit of your labor grow. Just as you are getting stable footing, another unforeseen obstacle parks itself right in front of you. Then, it’s time to go through it all over again. For me, accepting personal responsibility for who I am and what I stand for helped me a great deal. The changes I experienced were drastic considering the duration of the training. How I ate, slept, interacted with people, and thought was something I needed to get comfortable with and accept. If we couldn’t change for this 200-hour training course, we would have never grown and experienced life-long transformations of the mind and body.
Are you willing to show up to your mat for all the lessons and Asana classes and workshops?
There were times during the training when I really wanted to give up. Sleeping Thunderbolt Asana is a tough pose for me. Just uttering the ancient menacing Sanskrit words makes my hips ache. I didn’t give up, though. I asked for help, modifications and worked through my limitations and learned about myself, and the power that I and all of us possess. Ask yourself what would you like to bring home and implement into your life from this experience. Then, find your Guru.
The Teacher: Guruji
We attended our yoga teacher training in January/February 2020, at the Nepal Yoga Academy. We spent weeks sending emails and talking with representatives from various schools around the Indo-Asia region. It was exhausting and at times troubling. It seemed like every place that eventually replied would practically ignore our questions and point our attention to their pricing charts and availability. What a horrible way to respond to someone who is seeking to better themselves…
Ask the important questions
What are the school’s credentials? Who is teaching what topics? Are they proficient in English? Can they help you get to the ashram?
You can tell a great deal about whether the school is just looking for a sale or is genuinely interested in teaching by reading the replies to an email containing a few to-the-point questions.
We spent a lot of time asking questions and reading replies. One teacher did catch our attention right off the start. Speaking with Dr. Chintamani (Guruji), at Nepal Yoga Academy filled us with hope and confidence. He never once asked about payment or tried to sell us anything. He kindly answered all our questions (an email which contained a 13-message conversation) and conveyed an authentic passion of wanting to help us. After this, I was sold. Going with our guts paid off big time.
What makes a Great Guru?
After participating in the 200 YTT course, we both can say assuredly that a Guru must possess the ability to motivate you and lead from the heart. The Guru should engage the individuals to reach the inner rewards and goals of a meaningful yoga practice themselves. Gurus have a tough job dealing with a diverse group of people from various ages, physical fitness levels, awareness, and habits. How they deal with these challenges can set the whole vibe of the training. The ability to adjust and tweak the program’s outline based on the students’ needs is an essential requirement. Discovering the students’ strengths and weaknesses is the way to achieve this. If the teacher is only worried about the money or their own agenda and ego, the student gets pushed to the back however subtle it may be. We never felt this way. The authentic teaching style allowed us to show our true colors and cultivated comfort even while doing a Sleeping Thunderbolt Pose; to press on and stay focused. This allowed us to grow and in turn allowed our Guru to teach the students as much as we taught him.
When a teacher considers specific elements in designing a class such as: time of day, specific people’s needs, and when to push harder, it is called wisdom. Using real-life examples to connect with the class promotes true learning. A high-quality leader is responsible for the health and success of the aspiring yogis going out into the world to teach with skill.
Having a yogic environment is like adding rocket fuel to your experience. Where you do yoga can imbue strong energies into your daily routine, infusing you with an inspirational power to take yourself deeper into the inner calmness of yoga.
Do you ever wonder why people invest so much money and time going to yoga studios?
A definite answer is that the environment is a place of great peace, tranquility and focus. We all have busy lifestyles and homes that are full of distractions, which can make it difficult to do yoga.
When we attended the training, it was magical. We were outside the busy hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, removed from the distractions of everyday life. We had a beautiful garden and lush greenery to relax in on the side of a mountain facing the sun. Every morning we were greeted by the sun and massive beautiful eagles. We would smile and greet them back while performing Surya Namaskar. The birds chirped and a warm breeze drifted through the valley. How could we not find peace and deepen into our practice? This type of an environment breeds positive vibes and strengthens the focus. Important qualities, such as self-study and inner reflections have better chances to flourish into your awareness when submerged into this yogic landscape. If you are able to attend a training away from home, I would highly advise you to take the opportunity without hesitation.
What about the body: isn’t that an environment too?
Yes, a pretty vital one. What you eat is a crucial aspect of the environment. Is the food clean and nourishing? Are the people who prepare it caring and friendly? It makes the food taste better when someone’s love and attention went into it. With fresh locally sourced food your body heals and recovers quicker. It gifts you with energy and grace. At our training, the food was delicious and the Nepali staff tried to feed us as generously as your Italian grandmother you haven’t seen in over a year. Not having to worry about preparing food and all the labors of cooking was a relaxing experience that my belly and body were grateful for every day of the course.
Looking Back as a Yoga Teacher
Doing new things can be challenging. We started with aspirations of becoming yoga teachers. During the first portion of the training however, we were overwhelmed and doubted if we were able to fulfill our goals. Perseverance and understanding played a big role in us making it to the end of the training. Much appreciation to our Guru who helped to keep us straight on the path to accomplishing our aim. When it was our turn to teach our fellow students, we were surprised how easily it came and despite a little nervousness, it felt very natural to teach. We gained the knowledge we sought out to deepen our practice. Now, confidently we can create an asana class and teach pranayama to many different types of people. I also feel very healthy and grateful for the whole experience.
Can you do it?
If you are having doubts about attending a training or have thoughts about pushing it back till next year when you are in better shape, don’t put it off any longer. I was the overweight, least flexible person in class, and always called on to demonstrate how to adjust a stiffer type beginner practitioner (attributes I ascribe to the cold Canadian winters). Now, because of my attitude, guidance from my Guru and the yogic environment I’ve attained a healthy body and balanced mind.
During this training I realized that having less equals more, how to foster healthy rituals and why yoga should be an everyday practice. The training went by so fast. Bonds that were made with our fellow students, teachers, and staff are precious gems that I will cherish forever.
Jan-Feb 2020 YTT
Nepal Yoga Academy