This blog post is for those of you who would like the 34 day, detailed, raw, vulnerable account of my 200 hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India, June 15-July 17, 2017. Each entry was written that night. Enjoy!
DAY 1: Be Open
Saturday June 17th – Melbourne to Delhi
So ‘they’ say do something that scares you every single day. That getting outside your comfort zone equals growth. Well I think I’ve just grown 10 feet tall! I arrived in Delhi safely (I’ve been so nervous about heading to a new country on my own), and got to my hotel with help from the amazing staff at the Holiday Inn Express Delhi. If you’re flying into Delhi with a connecting flight I highly recommend. It was slightly noisy, but I was right next to reception and it is a major airport!
I got on the plane and an elder Indian women has taken my isle seat, she spoke very little English so I just allowed her to have the seat and was then stuck in the middle of two larger Indians. She then proceeded to interrupt me as I tried to set my voicemail for away for the next month. She was trying to get me to call her son and due to the language barrier I couldn’t explain that I had to do this first.
I attempted to remain open and not become judgmental or frustrated, and then was asked to swap seats (again) so the man next to me could have his wife sit with him. So I got my isle seat back! But my special meal request appeared to get lost in translation haha. The beauty of Indian food is that it is mainly vegetarian. Dairy can be tricky… but hey I’ll sacrifice a little bit of butter for an amazing Indian curry!
DAY 2: Serve and share
Sunday June 18th – Delhi to Rishikesh
Ok so I’m getting excited now that I am on the plane to Dehradun, then a 40 minute drive to Yog Peeth, Yoga School in Rishikesh. I was quite nervous since leaving Australia, but now I’m starting to settle the nerves as I am being open and I am focusing on serving. This beautiful young Indian girl sitting next to me on my connecting flight was cold so I gave her my scarves. She speaks a little English and we spoke briefly about where we were both from. It’s not about me, it’s so much bigger. Ego be gone. I’m ready for this growth and spiritual journey.
So I arrived at the yoga school and I was speechless as we drove through the small road, no road rules, people overtaking with on coming cars, motorbikes with piles of plastic chairs on them, cows, monkeys, pigs, dogs… Then we arrived. I kind of had an idea in my mind what to expect but it was totally different… Coblestone entry to the cottage, no car access.
The room is old and beaten and kids pillow case coverings. No toilet paper (lucky I packed some), no flushing toilet, no working fan, power point coming out of its socket.
But that was all material and I was here for the experience and to immerse myself, and that I was. It didn’t take long to settle in and start sharing stories with my beautiful German, French, UK, US and of course Aussie friends (my next next door neighbour for the next 4 weeks).
So now it’s time to get into it.
Day 3: Comparison is the thief of joy
Day 1: 200 hr YTTC
Have you ever been to a yoga class, gone out with friends, gone to the beach, walked down the street and thought, oh I don’t have what she/he has, or I have much more of that than she/he has… in a not so loving and caring way?
I stood at the library today trying to choose the best book for me, for my future yoga students… for my future yoga life! What?! in 5 minutes I had to pick a book that could potentially decide on the outcome my yoga practice would take… I felt under prepared. I looked at the girl to my right, and my new beautiful Aussie Neighbour to the left… they were already sitting, engrossed in the books they had chosen. They seemed like they had decided, like they had it all together.
Then there was the girl next to me in mediation… so zen, not moving…
And the girl holding her downward dog pose longer that me (and minus the shakes)…
I was comparing, I was stuck in the comparison game and the perfection game. I needed to let it go. So I nicely spoke to myself… this is your journey, not theirs, you will choose what resonates with you, you will therefore be able to serve those who want to be served by you.
Day 4: The power of yoga
Day 2: 200 hr YTTC
Feeling sore from 4 hours of yoga sessions on day 1, I headed to our day 2 session with anticipation. I was so surprised at how I felt after day 2, usually compounding sore muscle on sore muscle is a recipe for disaster, but following each and every yoga session I felt, what Sam (another amazing friend I’ve made here, from the US) calls ‘yoga stoned’. Such an energetic but blissful state following the sessions. And I’m eating less… What?! Yep you read correctly… Eating less… The food is delicious, but I feel like I’m fueling my body with so many primary foods (relationships, physical activity, spirituality), it’s not needing as much. Oh and in 2 days I’m eating more mindfully.
As well as… No more lump in my throat, clearing breathing, more energy, being more present, less stressed, more flexibility, less body tension. Yes all of these things in 2 days! Let’s see if it stays that way…
Day 5: Gratitude
Day 3: 200 hr YTTC : INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY
It’s not often that once in a life time opportunities come your way. Today was one of those… participating in a yoga ceremony in a huge tent on the banks of the Ganges river in Rishikesh… The yoga capital of the world, on INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY!!!
Tears of joy, goosebumps, connection… it all comes back to one thing… immense feelings of gratitude!
SO GRATEFUL for this moment, this day, this experience, this life!
Day 6: Modifications of the mind
Day 4: 200 hr YTTC
Yoga Sutra 1.2: Yogah cittavritti nirodhah
(The art of suspending the modification of the mind)
The mind is never constant, it is forever changing (modifying), and something that if we say no to bounds us, and something that if we say yes to also bounds us.
So laying here with a gastro bug (yep they said it would happen and it did, right into the fallen over trash can – woops sorry, to much?!), after such an amazing day yesterday, is showing me how this state of mind, and consequential moods can change so quickly.
So for me it’s water, electrolytes and breathing into where it hurts. Accepting. Inquiring. Being present. Not wishing to be anywhere else. That said… it’s time to heal body, let’s sleep this thing off!
Day 7: Nidra
Day 5: 200 hr YTTC
‘The quality of your life depends on the quality of your sleep’
Todays philosophy topic was Nidra (aka sleep), and how fitting… As that is what I did all day today, with a bit of yoga, sleep, class, sleep, and more yoga.
Never underestimate the power of sleep and yoga to heal. Tummy bug be gone.
Now to get back to savouring this incredible experience… I’m in India!!!
Day 8: Discipline
Day 6: 200 hr YTTC
It is said that yoga is a discipline and that to be a disciple means to not just hit the books and learn about yoga, but to experience it. Being the nerd and scientific brain I am, it was all too easy to go to my room and read, instead I sat on the lawn, learned and spoke about poses (asanas) with other students, my new family, tried challenging poses, laughter, and then had a fantastic conversation with Neha, our anatomy and physiology teacher about my personal practise. 2 hours a day back home…
Discipline is not the nasty word we think it is… if the sun wasn’t disciplined to rise and fall daily we would not exist. Everything we do is a discipline.. cleaning our teeth, sleeping, eating… some are just more automatic than others.
So, it’s time now to bring discipline into my life, as it’s the only way to bring harmony into my life.
Day 9: Mindfulness & Frustration
Day 7: 200 hr YTTC
Today was excursion day… A 45 minute drive to a temple in the mountains… Remember, that’s Indian time too… so a 45 minute walk (each way through crowds), an hour windy hot bus trip up a mountain and a ‘few’ (like 100!) stairs later and we were there… At a temple at, what seemed like the top of the mountains. It really was beautiful.
But coming home I was hot, sunburnt, tired, weak and still a little queasy in my tummy (thank gosh for potato chips!). I found that today I was less mindful and less accepting. I think the extra hot conditions as well as the unwell feeling I was having had just started to compound. And the litter on the sides of the roads! OMG, so frustrating.
I took some time to breathe and like Divine timing always occurs. I saw it… my first experience at seeing a dead person on the back of a man draw cart. Frustration be gone. Gratitude come at me… for life, for health, for the amazing people in my life, for my home, for my country!
That said, here I am, breathing, being mindful and grateful, and just experiencing here and now. Not wishing to be any where else.
Day 10: Reflection
Day 8: 200 hr YTTC
Today’s theme – ‘Abhyasa’ aka practise. And that we did. Challenging but invigorating sessions today, especially the evening pm session.
There is no magic path in yoga, (and therefore no magic pill in life), you need to practice and utilize certain qualities within you to live a yogic (present and grateful) life.
In the words of the great Dalai Lama:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
So this got me to thinking today… where do we need to practise a more yogic life? How can we do this? What needs to go? How can we live a more minimalist life? How can we experience inner happiness and love and not rely on the material world so much?
For me it’s yoga 2 x a day, and continuing to take the pressure off expectations and outcomes.
Day 11: Release
Day 9: 200 hr YTTC
Today we learnt about the second limbs of yoga – Releasing impurities, releasing discontent, releasing misunderstanding of mind-body.
They say emotions are stored in the body, and while I haven’t cried yet (don’t feel the need), the gastro is gone, but a cold is here…Practicing a new breathing technique yesterday has been the cause of this I think.
Release… Release these toxins…
Day 12: Friendships & Self-Care
Day 10: 200 hr YTTC
Very much a day of mixed emotions:
Sick with a cold…
Taste buds gone…
Not so great news from home…
Cuddles from caring friends…
Raw vegan cheese cake and coconut masala chai with friends…
Laughs with friends…
Oracle card spreads…
Love is all you need. Within and around you! 💞
Day 13: Yoga off the mat
Day 11: 200 hr YTTC
Are you like I was (just today!) and see yoga as something you do once a day, or maybe 3 times a week. When you are there, you are conscious… you have done your good deed for you mind and body?
I had some awareness around posture and my physical body, but it hadn’t been a focus… Today my eyes were opened wide… Yoga needs to continue off the mat. So how are you sitting at work? How are you standing? How do you bend over to pick up things? No wonder I was still having some aches and pains.
But now, neck and back pain be gone!
Yoga is so important and being taught correctly will change your life! That’s why videos online don’t cut it!
Day 14: Uncontrollable belly laughs + language barriers
Day 12: 200 hr YTTC
Have you ever been in that situation in class where something happens (or maybe it doesn’t even happen) and you start laughing uncontrollably?!
That was us today.
We were doing a meditation and my beautiful Aussie friend thought the teacher said ‘tongue’ instead of ‘thumb’. ‘Place your index finger on your tongue (thumb)’… So she was sitting here with her index finger on her tongue while the rest of us sat with our hands on our knees, index finger on our THUMB. The teacher then said turn your palm towards the ceiling, in which she proceeded to turn her hand up… still on her tongue. I heard her laugh a few minutes into the mediation and when we came out asked her what had happened. In which she told the story, and we laughed for 15 minutes and reenacted. Getting into the next classes meditation without laughing was tricky to say the least…
Meditation will never be the same again.
Day 15: R and R (rest and recovery)
Day 13: 200 hr YTTC
I was told I would get sick in India… I expected once, but no, not once, or twice, but three times!
As a health coach I sit here and wonder… Does that mean I’m not healthy?!
From my research this may not be the case… intense spices, new bugs, sun, exhaustion (from an epic but full on yoga schedule), ‘filtered water’, decreased hygiene in most places and overeating will all place a strain on our digestive tracts. It’s so easy to get complacent, particularly when you begin to trust the place you are staying at. So for me it’s back to bottled water, less food, more rest, lots of fluids and listening in to my body. So until tomorrow, it’s R and R time.
Day 16: Half way mark
Day 14: 200 hr YTTC
Two weeks feels like both a year and a day all at the same time. Being sick makes me want to get on the first plane out of here when we finish up on the 15th. I’ll reassess when I’m 100%. I must say feeling much better than yesterday.
Half way in and I have learnt so much. I feel my personal yoga practice has improved ten fold, however, I feel overwhelmed when it comes to running classes, which I am sure will be the focus of the next few weeks. And I know this is life long learning, not something I can learn in one month.
I could learn about yoga (and health coaching) all day long (yep I did so today).
Bring on the second half!
Day 17: Energy
Day 15: 200 hr YTTC
Today we learnt about the energy centers of the body – The Chakras. And how totally fitting… This morning after being educated in philosophy on unconditional love, total acceptance, and getting my hands on some natural Ayurvedic herbs I’m feeling stronger than I have felt all trip… Even managed to jump straight into chaturanga (low plank pose) from standing, with no real thud! And nailed my headstand.
This health will continue… Even if it means wiping cutlery and plates with my hand sanitizer and continuing to drink bottled water (did I tell you my water filter clogged up in 2 weeks, what normally lasts 3-6 months… now I think that’s saying something about the water quality!)
Day 18: When everyone around you is falling apart
Day 16: 200 hr YTTC
So I’m feeling pretty good, although I know that monthly visitor is upon me.
It appears that everyone is starting to get warn down by the intensity of the program.
One of our beautiful friends had to go home due to a family emergency, others are overwhelmed by not being able to understand the content, others are frustrated at their bodies, at the instructors, at the teachers, at the heat, the sickness, the food, the water…at the whole situation. It’s getting to the business end of things and I think people are ready to be done.
I’m taking it all in my stride, listening to my body, taking it easy (in respect to my cycle), and not making any rash decisions right now, like wanting to change my flights home to the day I finish. I love you India, but I’m ready for home. We’ll see…
Day 19: Do what comes naturally
Day 17: 200 hr YTTC
They say we are given exactly what we need, and when we need it at any one point in time.
Today I had the absolute pleasure of working in our yoga class practise with 4 other amazing human beings. 2 of which English is a second language. Automatically I stepped into my leadership and coaching role. I love it! It lights me up! Then I advocated for these students to make the learning easier for them and us.
Teaching is the best way to learn!
We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when things challenge us.
Bring on the challenges!
Day 20: Riding the cycle
Day 18: 200 hr YTTC
I’m on day 26… and usually by now I’d be feeling a bit fatigued, cranky, irritated and crampy… I’m feeling the waves of a few emotions (Being in India with 4 hours of yoga and 6 hours of study a day will do that to you). But the cramps are not here! Yet.. if at all! Watch this space for the health benefits I’ve seen in this experience!
But for now we are all just riding the cycle here… up, down, decisive, indecisive, frustrated, happy, hyper.
I wanted to just come home after the course, but it was going to cost $900, the thought of traveling to Delhi and Agra was making me feel so uncomfortable, but I think we have now made a decision. So I’m feeling better.
Day 21: LOVE and FLOW
Day 19: 200 hr YTTC
💞 You have to go along with life, life will not follow you… Follow life and you will miss nothing. You will be in love with love and life itself 💞
This is something I have worked a lot on in the past three years, and day by day, little by little, I see positive changes. This topic was discussed today in philosophy which got me evaluating my schedule at home again, and ways to continue to be in the flow more. I took so much more away from today, and then bam… and invitation on Facebook for a plant based presentation in Albury… Thanks Universe! I like your little nudges.
I’ll try to hold the mantra of the great Ganges River:
Day 22: 3/4 mark
Day 20: 200 hr YTTC
Last night if we had of spoke, I would have said, I’ve hit my threshold… Waking at 130am with a rash all over my arms and legs…
Stripping my whole bed, my clothes and only having 3 hours sleep. Boiled clothes, new bed, antihistamines and herbal spray and all is good… Actually, all is not good, all is great, after tonight’s talent show…
We learn the Macarena, self deference, bracelet making, poetry, teacher impersonations, massage, partner meditation and had bliss balls (thanks to yours truly) almost some of the talents that my beautiful new friends posses…
How am I ever going to say goodbye to these amazing human beings?! It’s not goodbye, it’s only see you later.
SO MUCH GRATITUDE AND LOVE!
Day 23: High Vibin’
Day 21: 200 hr YTTC
I used to get high on life via the many bottoms of beer or wine glasses… Well what I thought was high on life… But today was the best example of what getting high on life is!
What started as an ordinary day ended with a day full of so much love, joy, giving and receiving and gratitude. We walked to a beautiful cafe and enjoyed a tea and appetizers, then headed to meet with one of the girls Indian boyfriend’s, for dinner.
Did someone say organic, vegan and gluten free:
And the best pancakes, with my two fav things combined… Chai spiced peanut butter!
Then, wait for it… Lena’s beautiful boyfriend paid for it all! For all 12 of us girls! If the amazing surroundings and beautiful chats with friends wasn’t enough as the monsoon rain came down outside, then this topped the cake!
Lena and her boyfriend then set off into the night on his motorbike.
So lit up right now!
Bring on week 4!
Day 24: Mindful Eating
Day 22: 200 hr YTTC
Hatha yoga speaks about yogic eating…
We aren’t just eating food for energy, but also our state of mind. Food impacts us on every level of our being, and becomes who we are and prolongs our life. I really think modern society has come to very much disregard this very important aspect. These teachings are so in line with my health coaching philosophy!
I am grateful for the nature, as it provided the fertile soil and rain at the right time. I am grateful for the farmer whose blood, sweat and tears went into growing the food.
I am grateful for the person who went to the market to get the food.
I am grateful for the person who cooked my food. Thank you 🙏
Looking outside my window to see a man weighing and delivering fruit and vegetables. So amazing. So mamny beautiful colours!
Day 25: Old habits die hard
Day 23: 200 hr YTTC
So today I had a mini meltdown… Expectations not being met… Of myself and my ability to learn and get things done. But in true style, the worry was for nothing, and my assignment is in!
Expectations… Something I will continue to work on once home. Enjoy the journey, not the destination!
Day 26: Balance
Day 24: 200 hr YTTC
Late nights… up studying. Super excited to teach my first class tomorrow. I love my session plan! Early night tomorrow night when all assessments are done. Life… it’s all about swaying in and out from the center of Balance… if there’s such a thing?!
Day 27: My calling…
Day 25: 200 hr YTTC
Wow! My heart is just so lit up! I completed my anatomy assessment and taught my first (half) class. I love it! I was so excited all day to teach and only a little bit nervous.
It is said:
‘Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive’ – Howard Thurman
Health coaching and yoga. The perfect match. Holistic. Inner. Engineering. Transformation.
Day 28: So alive
Day 26: 200 hr YTTC
Wow wow wow wow. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this. Tears or joy, gratitude, love and sadness. Joy gratitude and love for this amazing life changing experience and sadness at the fact that those who were strangers are now not only some of the best friends I will ever have, but they are family.
We had the most amazing restorative meditative session to finish tonight and there was not a dry eye in the room… well maybe the boys!
I didn’t want to stay a week ago, now I don’t want to leave these amazing humans 💕
Day 29: We did it!
Day 27: 200 hr YTTC
So we did it we graduated. I feel in shock and a bit numb at the thought of leaving my beautiful yoga family tomorrow. I can’t even put into words what the past 4 weeks has been like. I am so excited to get home to live and love in the yogic way!
Day 30: Speechless
Rishikesh to Delhi
Well we made it to Delhi and for most of the trip the 4 of us did not utter a word… trying to digest and reflect on the 4 weeks past. In and out of reality has shocked and numbed us all… Homeless people knocking on our windows in the traffic, non English speaking cab drivers, 4 people riding one one tiny motorbike, cows ploughing the paddocks, fresh towels and sheets, hot showers, air conditioning… it feels like so many different worlds in a matter of 8 hours/300kms!
Day 31: Exhaustion
Easy yoga session, incredible buffet breakfast, pool side, cups of tea, bed… That was my day today and it was magnificent.
Once you stop and the adrenaline has gone, it hits you, like a massive wave… The exhaustion… You want to explore, to laugh, to write, to read, to learn, to connect. But all you can do is sit and lay and sleep and lock yourself in the confines of your 5 start resort. All you can do is listen to your body, and start a fresh tomorrow.
Day 32: Relaxation
Long breakfasts, pedicures, hair dos, rest and relaxation before I fly home tomorrow. I’ve not left the resort since arriving, and you know what, I’m fine with that. I need the r and r before getting home. So excited!
I’ve just re-read these posts in an attempt to reflect on the past 4 week, but I’m still struggling… planes are good for that though!
Day 33: Home time
So I’m ten minutes off touch down into Melbourne, and I’ve watched one movie, slept and read. See the thing is that things don’t always go to plan… Big plans for reflection and blog writing went out the window when I woke at midnight last night, up every hour or so with Delhi belly… For the 3rd time! Back on the pills it was, with bland food. Thank gosh it passed before getting on the plane. I’m still not feeling 100% and feeling like I cannot absorb the full experience of seeing my amazing man again for the first time in over a month…
34 days: Beauty and Daze
Have you ever looked at something, but never really noticed it? Never really noticed its beauty?
Then have you looked at something, maybe you haven’t seen before, or for a while and see it’s total and utter newness, its vibrancy, it’s beauty?
As the sunset through the trees, only kilometers from home, tears welled in my eyes, as I knew I had arrived, I was home. Tired and dazed from the travel, I unpacked, disinfected and washed absolutely everything in beautiful washing detergent.
It was now time to put my money where my mouth was… but it was so easy to slip back into old habits and do, do, do not be, be, be. But let’s start with one small thing… pranayama (life energy/breath work), then tomorrow, it’s time begin living a yogic life…. presence, consciousness, flow, love, abundance, discipline.
Thank you for joining me on this journey, I hope it has given you some insight into the dealings of a month abroad in India doing my yoga teacher training. 🕉🙏💜
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