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Since I was 17 I’ve always loved Yoga. I think it started when I found a small yoga studio on my street and decided to give it a go. I remember walking into the dim candle lit room smelling a calm and soothing fragrance in the air. I remember feeling very relaxed and sleepy after the class but never spent the time to dive deeper into what the instructor was saying. Throughout the following years, I tried all kinds of Yoga: Hot Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Yang, and Vinyasa Flow all with the purpose to feel fit and healthy and makes my body look good in that little dress I was going to wear in the weekend. I never understood how to quiet my mind or stay still in the Savasana at the end of the class, but my body felt good so the rest didn’t matter. 

Over a decade later and after a year of traveling the world in search of “Finding myself”, I started to feel a calling. I’d spent the last years transforming my life, I’d quit my job and become the joyful explorer I had always dreamed of. *But* I was getting tired of moving from place to place, I wanted to find a passion, a way I could give back to the world and share something I loved. 

At the time I was in Bali, going to daily Yoga classes and enjoying the slow, relaxed beach life. I was so grateful for all the teachings I was receiving and I had a deep feeling inside me that I could be really amazing at that too.

So I decided I wanted to study to become a Yoga teacher. And I didn’t want to do it anywhere. I wanted to go to the birthplace of Yoga and learn from the source. And that’s where my journey to India began. 

India is a big place, and now I had the daunting task of finding a Yoga School. There are numbers of US Alliance registered Yoga Teacher Training Schools in India. I knew I wanted to be near the beach for my training and I had heard Goa was a great spot, so after many hours of research, I settled on Upaya Yoga in Arambol Beach. 

My visa was confirmed and I was all booked and ready to go to India, all on my own. I had no idea what to expect and I was a little scared. After 3 flights and hours waiting in Hyderabad Airport, I finally arrived at Goa, where I was picked up and driven the hour and a half north to Arambol Beach. I was tired and emotional and even questioning my decision to come. After calming myself down and getting some rest, I woke up with a brighter outlook on my surroundings and was able to relax and let the beauty unfold before me.

I knew the month ahead was going to be challenging on all levels, and after being welcomed with so many friendly faces I was ready to let the experiences roll in.

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The schedule was full of starting at 6.00am with either Pranayama (breathing exercises), or Mantra Chanting, followed by a Hatha or Ashtanga Yoga Practice. We then ate a wholesome breakfast of local fruits, musli or oats, and fresh Chai tea, all in silence to keep our mind calm and ready to absorb the rest of the day’s lessons. Class through the day could range from ‘The Art of Teaching’ where I built up confidence and a personal teaching style, Adjustment, and Alignment, where I twisted and moved through all the Hatha Yoga poses and practiced correcting my classmates. Philosophy classes taught me that yoga is so much more than moving. Yoga is a way of living and being in the world where a code of ethics is in place to do the best for ourselves and all beings. In Anatomy class I gained an understanding of how the body moves in different ways, what organs, bones and muscles are working in different postures. All of these external lessons gave me the knowledge and experience to teach a 90-minute yoga class, but the most valuable lesson was the internal one on myself. 

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Throughout the month, and also the following month when I stayed on to assist in the Yoga School, I felt my inner being going through a tremendous transformation. So deep, that,  even typing these words on this page, I know will never give it justice. 

My Yoga journey in India taught me to slow down. I mean really slow down. The first few days I was overwhelmed, often in tears and finding it hard to breathe. I slowly started to shed all the baggage that no longer served me. I came to learn that no moment is wasted when I focus on the breathing. Something so simple, and yet so meaningful when the only moment that exists is now. And all I have to do it be aware of the experience of that perfect moment. 

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Through increasing the awareness of breath and daily Pranayama, I was more energized than ever. I went from sleeping 9 hours and feeling tired to only needing 5-6 hours sleep and waking up more alive than ever. I went from being a constant fidgeter to being able to sit completely still for an hour of blissful calmness. I learned that I am not my mind and that if I focus long enough in silence, I can find a place of total emptiness and peace. And in that space, everything is connected and everything is whole. 

Daily meditation, sometimes sitting, sometimes dancing allowed me to connect to a deeper level of my inner being. A higher consciousness, where I would respond overreacting, and be ok with all emotions, including loneliness and sadness. I learned to be with myself, my true self, without the distractions of the outside world. 

My deepest gratitude goes out to the teachers and Upaya founder yogi Prem Krishnanada. And to all the beautiful souls that learned, grew, laughed, cried shared along the way I will never forget. 

So, who would I recommend the Yoga Teacher Training to? Absolutely everyone, there are no boundaries in the practice of Yoga. I am now aware that the practice of Yoga is about moving through life just as much as it is moving on the yoga mat. Don’t let age, race, shape or size determine the capacity of what your true self can be. 

Spread Love.

Be Humble. 

Trust the journey.

Namaste all. The light in me honors the light in you. 

Ella x

 

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