Last month, I embarked on a YTT course with Yoga Haven; it was something I had wanted to do for a while but, like with lots of things, it never seemed the ‘right time’. I had also struggled to find a course that I liked the look of, but as soon as I heard about Yoga Haven and had done some research, I had a gut instinct to just go for it.
The two week intensive part of the training was held in a small fishing town called, Epidavros in Greece, known as ‘the city of healing’; it was clear to see why! We were surrounded by golden mountains, a bright blue sea and each morning woke up to a beautiful orange sunrise over the harbour. It was absolutely idyllic.
There were 30 yogis in in total and amazingly by the end of the first day we all knew each others names (thanks to a very clever memory game!). All of our training was held in the Yoga-Shala: a big studio space at the top of the hotel which looked out over the sea. As for sleeping arrangements, we were divided into rooms with people of the same gender and a similar age; I shared a small apartment with two wonderful girls. The idea of being put in a room with people you don’t know is always nerve-racking , but from the first evening it already felt like we had been friends for years and I now consider them both very close friends of mine.
Our daily routine over the two weeks consisted of an hour and a half yoga practice each morning, posture clinics, history and philosophy lessons, teaching skills and another hour and a half yoga class in the evening.
It was pretty intense, safe to say my body and brain ached, but such an incredible experience. I learned so much about yoga that I didn’t know, but also about myself, and I definitely took away some valuable lessons which I thought I would share…
You can get close to people in a very short space of time: by the end of the two week training, 29 strangers felt like family to me. We had shared every yoga practice together, ate every meal together, laughed together and cried together (literally); our emotions seemed to sync up meaning we would go through highs and lows as a group, which was a bizarre experience, but everyone was so supportive of each other. It was amazing how like-minded they were and how comfortable we all felt sharing our own personal struggles.
Asana is only a teeny-weeny part of yoga: I knew there was more to yoga other than just the poses, but I didn’t realise quite how much. There are centuries of history and philosophy behind each type of practice, as well as lessons on how we should treat ourselves and others; It’s incredible how an ancient practice can still be so relevant to us today.
“Yoga practice not yoga perfect”: Particularly if you’re a perfectionist like me, it can be really frustrating when you can’t get a pose right. Doing yoga all day everyday for two weeks highlighted how variable my practice could be: one day it would feel easy and the next, I would really struggle. Each class, the teachers reminded us to ignore the ‘ego-voice’ telling us we must be perfect and instead to accept where our body was in that moment, to be patient and to not push it too far.
We store emotions in the body: It’s amazing how different poses can bring up a certain thought or feeling; the more I practised, the more I became aware of this. We often hold stress in the shoulders and the hips, so opening up these areas can be really beneficial in releasing tension or any other emotions we’re holding on to. It just goes to show how strong the connection is between our body and our mind.
Intention setting can really help you focus: Before we began each class, the teacher would ask us to set an intention for the practice; what did we want to get out of that hour and a half on the mat? Was it to de-stress, to reflect, to clear the mind or to send love to someone in need…whatever the intention was, I found it really useful for helping me focus. I was also introduced by my beautiful friend, Sophie, to new moon intentions: very simply, the idea is to set five intentions for the month, and the actions needed to achieve them. I get overwhelmed easily when I have a lot to do, so this has been really useful to help me focus.
Our brains talk all the time: Towards the end of the two weeks, we did a 12 hour silence in which we weren’t allowed to talk to each other, use our phones, read, write or do any activity that could be carried out mindlessly. The idea behind it was to practise living without distractions. It wasn’t easy (I don’t think I could have done for much longer!) but it was interesting to tune into the cycle of thoughts that go on in the mind and to try and observe them, without becoming attached to them. It’s definitely something I’ll continue to work on through my own meditation practices.
I’m so excited to start teaching my own classes where I can share my love for yoga and create a space where people feel safe to explore their own journey on the mat.
For more information on classes and private sessions, please go to my yoga page or feel free to contact me below!
Photos by a gorgeous and very talented yogi, Zsófi Jászberényi.