So I had spent 18 months working towards my YTT 200Hr course doing everything from getting approval from my employer to take extended leave, to building up my Yoga practice to 6 days a week, to studying neuroscience and mindfulness meditation and making big changes to the way I lived my life. This included surrounding myself with the right people, gaining a new found love and care for myself, spending my time in positive ways, achieving my extensive vision board and above all living my truth. So I thought I was all set for India, it had been a super demanding year, I was ready to enjoy the fruits of my labour and zen out with other Yogis safe in the knowledge I’d done all the hard work, this course would be going through the process of obtaining my teacher status end of. I was however embarking on what was to be the next important stage of my journey with Yogi Sivadas @ Kailash Tribal School in Dharamshala. Review Kailash
- Don’t go 100% effort all the time – I have always lived my life at 100 miles an hour, if a jobs worth doing its worth doing well I say. It would never cross my mind to deliberately not try my best at maximum effort. On the first day of class Yogi said ‘no need to be rushing round the room, slow down it’s a yoga class’ definitely aimed at me. I learnt several things with Yogi, like understanding my edge, and figuring out when to push and when to let go. Also that the aim is not to be absolutely exhausted after each class. I’d boxed recreationally for 5 years and when I got into yoga I’d gone straight for the most strenuous on offer Hot Power Yoga (which I still love by the way) So for once in my life I was beginning to accept its ok to just go with the flow at a comfortable effort and enjoy the ride.
- Be gentle with yourself and listen to your body – I learnt a new found care for myself, to be more gentle with my body as well as mind, to listen to the sweet melody that is an instrument we call our body, if we listen more we would understand we are our own guide, all the answers are within us, of course if we bother to listen..
- Breath and pre & post relaxation are as essential as the Asanas – I have asthma so my breath is pretty shallow and erratic, combine that with being pretty energetic and at times anxious I still have to work really hard on controlling my breath in practise. Yogi spent a lot of time on the medical benefits of breath, and techniques to understand and control it. I came to love the elements of relaxation during our sessions, this is where I learnt to obtain moments of stillness both in the body and the mind – miracle.
- Stretches – I love these even more than the main poses, it is in stretches that you fully embrace the idea to stop pushing and let go using breath, super duper powerful.
- I found my niche – it was pretty apparent when our small class started teaching themselves during the course that everyone had their own style and this blossomed the more we taught, we began to find our own niche. Mine was a clear keenness for the medical and mental benefits of yoga, primarily because it has so impacted my own life. I really warmed to correcting alignment in postures using hands-on assists and incorporating mindfulness techniques during my class.
- Slow yoga for the Ayurvedic type or dosha – after learning about Ayurvedic medicine and Ayurvedic Yoga techniques I spent 10 days doing Panchakarma @ Himalayanayurveda to help with stomach issues I’d had over the last year. It turns out that the ‘right’ yoga for my Vatta-Pitta constitution was not Hot Power Yoga but a far more restorative kind of yoga, so I learnt to slow down, to focus on doing each flow or pose more mindfully, not to over exert myself and to work on guided meditations to quieten my busy mind – who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
- Correct alignment and props – I learnt props are for EVERYONE and its far better to do a pose in its best version to feel the true medical benefits.
- Asana is only one arm of the yogic tree – coming from loving yoga for its physical and fitness benefits I learnt the secrets of Pattanjali’s yogic tree and how Asana is only 1 element in the ladder to meditation and enlightenment, I was also amazed how I’d already moved through some of his other limbs over the last couple of years as an organic process without even realising it, thats the power of yoga.
- Sometimes a penguin will never be a Giraffe – the most profound experience was after trying my best to be like some of the other wonderful yogis I met, super chilled out, laid back, un-reactive, floating through life with smiles and what seemed like inner knowledge, one of the girls on my course (a super cool German girl) said ‘sometimes Januarie a penguin will never be a giraffe’ and then it clicked, to accept myself in the essence that is me, and celebrate the things that make me who I am uniquely. My relentless quest for new experiences and knowledge, my proactivity and obsessive organisation, my happy clappy motivational super positivity that sometimes annoys people. In short I get s**t done and I’m real.
- I became a qualified Yoga teach with my YTT200Hrs through Yoga Alliance – the best bit of course was I could now confidently teach yoga!
Like any Yogini the journey is a powerful and life changing one, and to be able a share this and work with students is the most beautiful thing of all.