Letting Go [my yoga teacher training: part five]

I would have preferred to be writing this post during my last week at Sampoorna Yoga School, with the concluding thoughts and feelings still fresh in my mind. However, a bout of unfortunate circumstances held me a little off the radar during those last 7 days…

To begin with, we were crammed with overlapping assignments, presentations, and numerous teacher trainings. Every spare minute was spent thinking about/stressing about/studying for the last days’ exams. We had been preparing for, but were still unprepared for the upcoming written exam. We were waiting in anticipation for our turn to teach a flow to a group of 16 of our peers, with either less time to plan for, or more time to fuss over. Don’t get me started on the Sanskrit: add the pressure of memorizing of a foreign language into the mix, coupled with the fear of not knowing the answer in front of your class, and you have a good recipe for acute anxiety.

And I am admittedly hard on myself. It’s something I’m working on, but nonetheless I grappled with my vice as the overwhelming amount of thought troubled me. I need to write, I need to study, I need to plan, I need to organise, ah I need to eat, remember to drink enough water, put on sunscreen, study, plan, write etc. etc. I’m the type of person who thinks about what I need to do so much that it inhibits me from actually getting it done. I procrastinate. I’m moody. I lose my appetite.

One night we decided to get out of the school grounds and have dinner at a nearby restaurant. Happy to be eating something chosen by us, we feasted on garlic naan, paneer tikka and quizzed each other on yoga anatomy, allowing ourselves one beer as a reward for our hard work. Towards the end of the evening Grace and I started to feel a bit rubbish, but shrugged it off as exhaustion and decided to retire for the evening and continue our work early in the morning. I didn’t sleep all night. I had severe bodily pain that I can only describe as the worst backache I have ever had, but throughout my entire body. When my alarm finally went off at 5am I could barely lift myself out of bed and decided I was going to skip yoga and give my body a break, but my body had other plans. I awoke to severe diarrhoea and vomiting to the point where walking back to my bed was no longer an option and I crawled into the room to wake my roommate Hayley up. The next few hours were a blur. I was rushed to the hospital where I was poked and probed for the next several hours. I was severely dehydrated, had excruciating bodily aches, and a fever of 103 degrees. Hayley stayed by my side, even though she had studying to do (thanks again Hayls), my yoga family once again having my back. Three hours later they wheeled Grace into the room next to mine, with the exact same symptoms, which was the biggest comfort in such an uncomfortable situation. We spent the next 24 hours sleeping side by side, both hooked up to a drip, in matching striped red pyjamas, painfully laughing over our misfortune and taking turns to relieve ourselves in the bathroom.

When we finally left the hospital, undiagnosed, a day before the exam, we came back to the school to find that over half of the students had been ill and confined to their beds as well. Whatever passed through Grace and I had managed to hit most of the school and we had no choice but to surrender to the next day’s impending events and stop stressing over it. I felt relief. It’s funny how the body works. We all had gastroenteritis, but I think the reason I ended up in the hospital was because I inadvertently weakened myself with self-doubt. My body had enough. It was a big reminder to remember to take care of yourself both physically and mindfully.

That evening out the beach I watched the remainder of my healthy classmates swimming and laughing in the sea as the sun set, and shared in their enthusiasm for our hard month’s work finally done.

On Friday we started with our last ever meditation, indulged in the familiar taste of chai tea, proudly demonstrated our Sanskrit knowledge in front of our peers, took our final written exam, and by 5pm we were all certified yoga teachers.

It’s hard to sum up my feelings that last afternoon with a few words. Becoming a yoga teacher is something I had been thinking of doing for over 2 years, always making excuses to postpone the training, afraid to fully commit to ditching the nine-to-five that I dreaded, and ultimately worried of failing, or falling short of my expectations. These past few months have been a whirlwind of emotion, bravery, hard work and dedication and I couldn’t feel more accomplished as I sit here writing this today. I am proud of myself for taking the leap and removing myself from work that didn’t truly satisfy my heart’s desire. I am grateful for those close to me that have made this transition possible, supporting my dreams and reminded me that I can achieve anything I set my mind out to. I am overwhelmed by the amount of kind words and admiration from those who have reached out to me, inspired. And most of all, I am unafraid of what lies ahead of me, ready to become the kind of person I once dreamed of being.

Becoming a certified yoga teacher will be one of my life’s greatest accomplishments, this I am sure of. However, aside from the technical and philosophical learnings of the physical and mental practice, what I learned about myself during my time in India will enrich me far more.

Jaime Tully