Week One [my yoga teacher training: part two]

How is it going?

Had you asked me this simple question on day 1, I probably would have told you that it was a breeze. Sure we have three hours of intense yoga practice, an hour long meditation and around 4 hours’ interactive class time, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.

Fast forward to day 2, I have been ferociously bitten in my sleep by mosquitoes, I itch all over, it’s so hot I barely slept and my bowels are most definitely not on my side. Right, and my hands and body hurt so bad that every chaturanga feels like a sick joke (there are A LOT). No big deal, only 24 days left to go.

Enter day three. We skip meditation. Now this I’m alright with – until I remember about jala neti. For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to explain. Jala means water and neti means nasal cleansing. Yogic science gives as much importance to cleansing processes as it does to the physical practice, and this particular cleanse is meant to help prepare your body for breathing techniques during meditation. So naturally, we took part. If you still don’t know where I am going with this, here’s a mental picture. We bent our bodies slightly forward tilted our heads to one side, plugged our nasal passage with the spout of the “neti pot”, opened our mouths, and allowed the purifying salt water to flow freely out the other side. (I say freely, but if you are congested it’s coming out of your mouth).

At first it felt like I was choking on sea water. However, towards the end I realised I kind of liked it. I mean I’m not saying I will practice it everyday. I can’t imagine what my boyfriend would say if he walked in on me in the bathroom, head tilted, with a neti pot shoved up one side of my nose, liquid coming out of my flared nostril. But all things can be great if you allow them to be. So we laughed hard, took some pictures and got right into the experience. The whole thing was kind of awesome.

We followed the cleansing practice with a 2-hour long Vinyasa class. During which, our brilliant teacher created a restorative flow with beautiful shoulder openers followed by some difficult asanas, allowing us some room to grow our practice. It was exactly what we needed at this point, our bodies were absolutely killing us. For those that say yoga is easy, I invite you to a 2 hour Ashtanga class in 40-degree humidity, 5 days a week. By Thursday I could barely put any pressure on my wrists and my calves were in a state of constant tremor. I thought I was in fantastic shape, but quickly learned that this ‘holiday’ is no walk in the park.

Our days are filled with back-to-back classes, and our schedule reads something like this:

  • 6:30 – 7:30: Meditation

  • 7:30 – 8:00: Tea break

  • 8:00 – 10:00: 2 hour Ashtanga or Vinyasa

  • 10:00 – 11:00: Breakfast (fruits, porridge, granola)

  • 11:00 – 1:00: Anatomy or Philosophy

  • 1:00 – 2:00: Lunch (vegetarian, Indian)

  • 3:00 – 5:00: Alignment

  • 5:00 – 6:00: Vinyasa Flow or Student Teaching

  • 6:00 - 7:00: Posture Clinic

  • 7:00 – 8:00: Dinner (vegetarian, Indian)

  • 8:00 – 9:00: Discussion

As you can see it’s pretty jammed pack, and we have consumed A LOT of information in the past week. My brain is officially working on overdrive, but I am loving every second of it. It is really interesting to learn the history of yoga and the ancient philosophy surrounding it. Though, I will admit there are times when I haven’t got a damn clue what is going on. Despite the rough state I am in physically, I feel light as a feather, free as a bird and inspired by my lack of worry. To think that this time last week, instead of braving my morning meditation classes, I was suffering on the tube, absolutely boggles my mind. It’s so clear to me, even after a week, that I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I needed for me. The fact that I am learning this wealth of knowledge at its origin, in India, is just the icing on the cake.

We get Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday off so Grace, Chelsea, Ginevra and I got the heck out of Agonda to nearby Palolem beach. There, we haggled our way through brightly coloured market stalls (with the help of Ginevra’s extraordinary bargaining skills), got burnt to a crisp lying outside in the sun, and then swung in a hanging beach-bed until midnight. We reflected on all our hard work, went over the highs and low of the past week, really got to know each other laughed our way into the evening over a bottle of wine (or four). It seems crazy to think that we only met each other a week ago.

I have definitely harbored mixed feelings about meditation and my current struggle with it. I had only done it in the past for 20 minutes or so at a time, but an hour first thing in the morning is another story.  There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t jerked about, nodding to sleep, with one or both of my legs tingling asleep.  At first I was frustrated, but after sharing stories with my peers, have found that I am definitely not the only one, and that gives me a bit of hope. It is a good reminder that none of us are perfect.

Looking back on the week, it is clear to me that I am on the right path, maybe not to enlightenment, but certainly towards my own destiny, wherever that may be. When I first set out on this trip I thought I would really adopt the vegetarian, no sugar, no alcohol, “pure sattvic” regime. However, as I close the first week still struggling to sit still in meditation, cheekily indulging in a bit of wine and sweets, I have happily accepted my vices and come to the conclusion that my perfectly imperfect lifestyle thoroughly represents me.

Jaime Tully