Five Important Things I learned at Yoga Teacher Training

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I recently completed a 300-hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. The training was packed into a 30-day period, and the days were long and intensive. I learned what every teacher should in a training: alignment, anatomy, and philosophy, as well as a few unexpected things. It is safe to say I am moving on with more personal and professional knowledge than when I came in!

  1. There is Such a Thing as Too Much Yoga

When I first went into the training, I was excited to build on my knowledge of Hatha yoga, and to learn Ashtanga! For six days a week, we practiced for five hours a day. At first this felt hardcore and great- it took dedication to attend, the classes and to feel muscles that you didn’t know where there. But then in week three, I began to feel very tired. And proceeded to get sick. In order to heal, I had to is out of classes and let me body rest. It was then that I realized I had been doing too much yoga for my body. This isn’t a great thing to admit to the ego- you want to feel powerful, perhaps invincible, and it never feel good to have that illusion shaken. But bottom line- your health comes first. Practicing to the point of exhaustion isn’t good for the mind or body, and unfortunately it is our health that pays for it. Take home point: always listen to your body, and learn to let go of the ego when it comes to just how much you can (and should) practice!

  1. Your Fellow Teachers are Just as Valuable as the Classes

Throughout the training, we had some incredibly informative courses ranging from yogic philosophy to anatomy. I learned a lot from the teachers and classes, but the most diverse, valuable source of knowledge came from my fellow classmates. We spent a lot of time together in personal and professional settings, and the diversity and skills of every person provided an incredible platform to learn and grow. Every single person on the course taught me something I didn’t know and made me a better yoga teacher. There is no way you can make a class from this- it is the product of dedicated, passionate people coming together for a common purpose.

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The awesome yoga crew.
  1. Pushing Your Boundaries Helps You Learn More About Yourself

Yoga Teacher Training pushes you. Sometimes, it downright sucks. As noted above in regards to your health, this is not always an easy line to identify. In fact, most of the time you step over the line in one way or another, by either holding back and not reaching it, or overstepping it. The silver lining in this challenge is that you learn more about yourself: you limits, strengths, and weaknesses, and where you would like to improve in the future. This process is far from comfortable and I found it challenging and frustrating. However, every discomfort and fear makes you better, stronger, and more in tune with yourself. These situations happen in everyones life without attending a yoga teacher training, but there is something about traveling abroad and 14-hour days that seem to accelerate the process! This is truly the magic of a program- limits are pushed, and you learn how to deal.

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Early morning cleansing.
  1. There is No Perfect, just Practice

People are drawn to yoga for different reasons. Maybe to get a healthier body, a slimmer body, or to find mental peace. Others go for a spiritual side. One thing that I have realized on this course is that there is not no perfect, no peak we must reach. A yoga practice is a constant fluctuation, where ups and down define the experience. The most valuable part of a yoga practice you can have are different tools to adjust to these fluctuations and give yourself the practice you need to be the best you can be.

  1. Reflection is Integral to Integration

Yoga teacher training is packed with information and long days. It is mentally and physically strenuous, and reflecting on the day and new information you have received may take a back seat to sleeping or basic self-care. Despite the time constraints, it is important to reflect on the information, experience and how you are personally feeling every other day. This will help you decompress and assimilate valuable information and integrate it into your personal and professional practice.

Yoga Teacher Trainings teach you a lot in a very limited time from. Of course you learn a lot about yoga, but you also are forced to learn about yourself. What have you learned in teacher training or though your practice? What has this taught you? Share your thoughts!

Yoga For Nature: A Global Yoga Community Inspiring Deeper Connection with Nature

Yoga fosters a deeper connection between the body and the mind. Can it help foster a deeper connection to nature as well?

The Yoga For Nature community and its founder, Phil Dickenson, thinks so.

I recently spoke with Phil to learn more about him and Yoga For Nature. Read on to hear Phil’s story and understand the purpose of his non-profit, Yoga For Nature, to exemplify how yoga can promote action for positive change for the community and environment.

Inspiring Action: The Roots of Yoga for Nature

It all started in savasana.

Phil Dickenson was attending a yoga class to focus on quieting his mind. During the final resting pose of savasana, a thought popped into his head. Unlike the standard fleeting ideas that often crop up in this restorative pose, this idea would not go away. It stayed lit like a light bulb and stayed in Phil’s mind for the rest of the evening. So he slept on it.

The next day, this thought became an idea, and “Yoga For Nature” was officially born.

Yoga For Nature is a straightforward concept: the yoga community (including practitioners and studio owners) supports exceptional conservation projects all over the world by attending regular Yoga For Nature classes. The classes then generate funds that go directly to conservation organizations, most often in the form of providing digital media support (such as filmography and photography) to help share an organization’s story and educate people of the cause.

Stories are powerful. In the current digital media age, it is vital for conservation organizations to have a platform to tell their story and to have the story reach a large audience, ultimately connecting people to the organizations and their specific causes. Yoga For Nature provides a platform for these stories with the support of the yoga community

Phil’s Story

The initial stubborn thought of Yoga For Nature has roots in much of Phil’s life. Since the age of 14, Phil found himself empathetic to animals and became a vegetarian. This interest further blossomed in a curiosity about animals as well as their ecosystems, and was further refined by an interest in marine life and a love for surfing. After studying art theory and painting, he became involved in the digital media side of art: filming, directing and producing television shows. He led a successful life in a popular field, but felt something wasn’t right. He quit his job, grabbed a surfboard and traveled the world for two years to take a break.

This is who I am. My values are represented by yoga.

After his travels, Phil returned to the television industry, and developed a yoga practice to cope with the demands of the industry. As with many people who come to yoga, he was first interested in a physical practice and quickly opened to the idea of yoga philosophy. “This is who I am. My values are represented by yoga,” said Phil, noting the personal connection to his yoga practice. He earned his yoga teaching certification and aims to live a yogic lifestyle beyond the mat.

Nature and the Yoga Community

The concept of “nature” is debated and rooted in cultural and historical contexts. So what does “nature” mean to Phil? “I just read a fascinating book called ‘The Abstract Wild’ which speaks about our ideological concept of nature, and our tendency to curate and define wild spaces in line with our own needs or desires,” he said. “So right now, the nature I’d like to describe is untouched or better still unaffected by us, so flora and fauna are able to support us without suffering and degrading. That’s what Mother Nature wants, to love and support us so we can be together rather than forced apart.”

Yoga For Nature uses a model that focuses on developing relationships to form an interconnected support system, not unlike the support system that, as Phil notes, exists in healthy ecosystems.

That’s what Mother Nature wants, to love and support us so we can be together rather than forced apart

 

So why focus on the yoga community as the root of this support system?

Phil recognizes that conservation is a complex field with complex issues, but noted that the global yoga community is rooted in compassion that, when unified, can make good things happen.

“Storytellers always think about the audience and how a narrative will sit with certain people, that’s nothing new. But when your audience is less defined (i.e. you’re not able to screen to a specific group with shared values and interests) then the response will naturally vary. The fact that Yoga For Nature is pitching certain stories to a certain group of people is one of it’s strongest strategies because the way things are, we don’t want people to be apathetic or mildly interested, we want people to rise up and take action. I believe Yogis aren’t politically swayed or influenced by economics, they’ll assess a story with their heart and their measure of compassion for the story being told will elicit the desired response.”

Basically, yogic principles promote a healthy relationship with the environment, and yogis are already connected to a global community that can make a difference. And that is some good Karma!

International Yoga Day is coming up on June 21st! Why not celebrate the day with Yoga For Nature?
Learn more about Yoga For Nature and connect with its founder, Phil, here.
Interested in joining the community and supporting Yoga for Nature? Get involved here.
Follow Yoga For Nature on Facebook and Instagram! Don’t forget to show you love via hashtag @ #yogafornature!
Want to see more? Check out what yogis have helped support by watching the video below!

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