My 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Experience
I have taken yoga classes with varying degrees of consistency for the last couple of years. I was drawn to yoga because I wanted to balance out all of the running, skiing and hiking that I crammed into my life away from the office. But over time, I started to have an intuitive feeling that yoga was more than just another physical practice.
At the start of 2015, I realized that for the first time in many years I didn’t have a marathon on my calendar. I mention this because I love having a goal. Whether it is learning a new sport or training for a big race, the cadence of working towards a goal brings a steady rhythm to my life, neutralizing the effects that come with a demanding job. This void spurred an impulsive decision to join Burlington Yoga’s 200-hour teacher training course. Plus, I had high hopes that an intensive yoga training would undo the stiffness in my back and hamstrings from years of distance running.
Was it a success?
The short answer is that after 200 hours of training, I still can’t really touch my toes (and at 4’ 11’’, nobody’s toes are closer than mine).
But the longer story is that I had no idea how much more there was to a yoga practice than physical asanas. I wasn’t, aware of the philosophy, history and lifestyle that is the foundation of a deep and meaningful yoga practice. All of this was introduced to me for the first time during my teacher training through Burlington Yoga. When I set aside my preconceived notions about yoga, I was able to embrace aspects of the program that had much less to do with physical performance, and more to do with the resonating power of yoga as an internal practice. Here are just a few thoughts about my Teacher Training that seem worth passing on:
The beautiful, fluid movements between poses like Ardha Chandrasana and Utthita Trikonasana are what got me in the yoga studio. But there is so much more to learn beyond the physical alignment and technical instructions.
I had no idea that there are actually 8 limbs of yoga, that span breath control, ethical standards, self discipline, sensory control, concentration, meditation, and finally, an enlightened state of mind. Much of my time invested outside of the studio was devoted to reading materials that were dense in content and thought provoking in nature. Always a student at heart, I loved reading, studying and processing this new information.
It’s a Lifestyle
Don’t take this one too literally - I really didn’t change my lifestyle too much! I love a good local IPA with friends and I am definitely not a vegan. That being said, this training included a unit on Ayurveda and the practices that compose this traditional approach to health and healing. I was able to adopt some of the simpler practices such as nasya and self massage and appreciate how they brought a little more to my life each day. The benefits of a self-care practice make intuitive sense, but Ayurveda’s structured systems made adoption simple.
Attending a class or two each week before the training had always felt beneficial, but I’ll be honest and admit that my mind drifted and I just went through the motions. Often, I lay down in my Savasanas and thought about what needed to get done on the ‘to-do list’. But spending 200 hours in the studio truly gave me the time and mental space to deeply understand the details that became fundamental to my yoga practice. I learned to draw true connections between breath and movement, how to turn inward during a practice and appreciate the benefits of a calm and focused mind.
During this program, my alignment improved, I attempted poses that initially seemed impossible, and gained strength throughout my body. I not only learned how to articulate a structured yoga class but also how to get creative and infuse my class with my own personality and style.
After the hours I spent mastering poses like Virabhadrasana II, Bakasana and Adho Mukha Svanasana my physical practice is more skillful and complete. But what truly heightened my practice were the elements I described above. This 200 hour program opened a window into the holistic values of yoga philosophy and cultivated an appreciation for the impact of its long-standing yogic tradition. Touching my toes has become just a small outward manifestation of this the new mentality. All of this brought about the space in my mind and body that I had unknowingly coveted. If you are considering this program in the future, I hope some of this information helps in your decision-making. If you do decide to attend this (or similar) program, enjoy.
Girls on the Run! Sponsored by Momentum Physical Therapy and Inspired by Malaika Saturday June 6, 2015
Starting in Sept 2015- Malaika will be leading 200+300 hr teacher intensive immersion trainings and yoga and meditation retreats with Zuna Yoga in Bali, Indonesia! She will return to teach November - January weekly classes, workshops and special holiday classes.