The two main aspects of Yoga, that is the physical and the spiritual aspect, both have influenced my journey equally. At first, my journey was purely driven by the physical aspect. I was attracted and inspired by the challenging poses and Yoga flows. When I had started my practice, I had no clue about teacher training or the desire to become a full time Yoga trainer.
Before Yoga had found me, for almost 2-3 years I had been busy studying for the Chartered Accountancy course and appeared for the examinations held in May and November each year in an attempt to pass with satisfactory results. This had almost become a routine, that is studying for long hours, appearing for the exams in May, waiting for the results and then reappearing for the examinations in November.
Apart from the stress of not being able to score good marks, long hours of sitting, studying till late at night and eating mindlessly… at times eating only to stay awake, all this had begun to take a toll on my mental and physical health. To keep up with this madness, I decided to join the gym. I took time to workout when I could. I maintained a balanced routine of cardio and weights mostly, and also discovered a few stretches to ease the stiffness.
At the beginning of 2018 my cousins and I had planned a trip to Goa. This I believe was the turning point in my life. It wasn’t really the spectacular beaches or the night life that attracted me the most, it was the graceful, amazing and some crazy stretches that were performed by people on the beach that had absolutely left me awestruck.
As a kid I was a little flexible; however, with age, I had lost most of the flexibility. But when I saw these individuals on the beaches of Goa turning their body upside down, twisting and balancing…I felt a strong desire within to learn these stretches. Yes, I had no clue that this was all a part of Yoga!
“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Michael McGriffy
The practice of asana was certainly the very first attraction in my Yoga journey. The fact that they were practicing Beach Yoga or simply put, Yoga stretches on the perfect beaches of Goa, piqued my curiosity and I spent some time researching all about Yoga asanas and various styles of Yoga.
When I returned home after our amazing holiday in Goa, I wasted no time in starting my Yoga practice. I started following YouTube yoga videos of Kino MacGregor and tried my best to spend some time practicing Yoga on a daily basis. I just remember feeling amazing after every practice and every practice left me motivated enough to get back on my Yoga mat the next day, and the day after and so on.
Developing a daily routine
I believe that if we make it a point to dedicate some time for daily Yoga asana practice, sooner than later, it becomes a part of your life. I had stopped looking at it as some fitness or extra curricular activity. Although I was still unaware of Yoga’s many benefits, I was becoming aware of the fact that is not just for the body, but it is also food for the mind and soul.
I went ahead and appeared for my examinations for Law (CET) and I actually scored well. But I never stopped practicing Yoga. My daily practice was going strong. Seeing my dedication and progress, my brother came up with the suggestion that I should consider enrolling for Yoga course and get first hand experience of learning under an expert’s guidance.
Even at this point, I had no clue that I would be taking it up as a career as such. His suggestion gave way to more research, followed by lengthy discussions and brainstorming sessions at home. It is usually the case with Indian families 🙂 But I had no pressure to opt only for Law or Accounts as such and pursuing a teacher training course (TTC) in Yoga seemed like a great ad-don, primarily because I had fallen in love with it!
Who better than your first Teacher to seek further suggestions? I thus asked Kino as I had been following her tutorials regularly and still consider her as my first Yoga teacher. She suggested that I go to Mysore and enrol for a TTC in KPJAYI Shala.
But little did I know that KPJAYI has a waiting list of almost one year! And I had just one month in hand to complete the course and return home to appear for my Accountancy exams in November. So I looked up a few more schools and visited Mysore in September to complete my one-month course in Mysore style Yoga.
I find it difficult to capture the essence of that experience in words. It was just wonderful! I just knew that I am at the right place and that there is nowhere else I would rather be. The people I had met during the course, the teachers, the environment and the overall energy … was all just a perfect blend!
Just a few days before our TTC graduation, I got to know about my selection in a good Law college. But by this time, I had overcome all doubts I might have had about Yoga and making it my life. I couldn’t think of doing anything else and I knew that even if tried to fit in someplace else, I will never be happy. I realised that a lifestyle of 9-5 desk job never really appealed to me and Yoga was the answer I was looking for.
What is Yoga
Initially, for me Yoga was no more than just a fancy way to twist and turn my body; but along with the practice of Yoga asana, I soon unearthed various layers of my mind and emotions. The challenges I continue to face are more mental than just physical and it is the practice of Meditation and Pranayama that really helped change my perspective. I believe it is only when you feel the flow of Prana and connect with your breath, can you feel the vibrations and understand the concept of energy, emotions, and also prepare yourself to come face to face with your problems and accept them.
This insight helps understand the meaning of life and embrace all the questions that often arise in this beautiful journey, such as … ‘What is the purpose of one’s life?’ The practice becomes a way to slowly discover these answers. By practice, I don’t mean the practice of asana alone, but also the practice of Yamas and Niyamas.
To find your true inner peace and to stay connected with it, I would recommend that you understand and follow Yoga philosophy, such as the Yoga Sutras. To me it worked like the Holy Grail that helped me in my asana practice as well as worked as a guide in my daily life.
If your focus is currently on the physical practice or if that remains your main focus, my suggestions would be to commit to daily practice and just trust yourself instead of judging and comparing. Set a goal in your mind and work towards it. Just like Pattabhi Jois had said,
“Practice and all is coming.”
Meeting Kino MacGregor
Exactly after a year of dedicated practice, that is in February 2019, I came across Kino’s post about conducting a Yoga workshop in Mumbai. I was on cloud nine! And I just knew that I have to be there! But then… I noticed the fees. It wasn’t something I could even consider for a 2 days workshop.
Nevertheless, this did not stop me from texting her as I just couldn’t resist meeting her or be okay with not seeing her when she is in my hometown! So I just went ahead and asked her if I could meet her just once… for a few minutes after her workshop. I was pleasantly surprised when she confirmed that I could attend the entire workshop on a scholarship!
This meant the entire workshop was absolutely free for me! I couldn’t believe what had just happened!!! When I had arrived at the place, I was so sure that I was going to burst into tears looking at her. The room was filled with established Yoga teachers…all discussing about arrangements made and about their practice.
I was on my mat… waiting patiently for the moment for Tim Feldmann and Kino to enter the room. It was such a priceless moment of my life! As they walked in, I controlled my excitement and just went with the flow. The workshop was hands down outstanding! They both were so humble and sweet in their approach.
When I walked up to her and introduced myself, she just hugged me so tight 🙂 and this was my perfect fan moment! Tim was incredible as well… his instructions and knowledge that he imparted in such short time… were perfect and to the point. I was able to achieve something that I had been practicing for months and really appreciate the fact that they are willing to stay in touch and clarify any doubts even after the workshop. I would definitely say that if you remain true to yourself, the world will surprise you with its grace.
Being a Yoga teacher
As a teacher, I love to experiment with Yoga and other functional exercises. I enjoy creating flows and sequences, which can go from simple to complex forms of asanas. One style might not be suitable for everyone, thus as a teacher I first try and connect with the students and understand what will work best for them, which style they are most comfortable with and find it most inspiring, which asana they can easily excel in and most importantly, how can I help them find the inner peace.
“Yoga is a path of liberation from the attachment to both mind and matter. It is a door to the inner world and a life devoted to inner peace…” Kino MacGregor
I try my best to make them understand about what Yoga really is, about the concept of union, about how we can practice and experience it, about the concept of energy, principles of advaita or non-duality and so on. I believe that sharing this knowledge can in turn help them choose for themselves, and decide which style of Yoga interests them and who knows, even inspire them to learn, teach and spread the knowledge, just as how it had inspired me.
I feel that anyone who has even an ounce of passion or interest in learning more about Yoga and pursuing a TTC, should just go for it without any any doubts because there is a whole new world to explore. You of course have to do your bit of research, ask questions and ensure you know who is going to teach you, their qualification and the facilities at the shala.
But once you make the decision, stay focussed and absorb as much as you can. Endurance, patience and confidence … all comes with practice. Thus my suggestion is to have a regular practice of at least six months before enrolling for any TTC.
Be humble, be kind, work hard, believe in yourself, do good, protect nature.
Certified Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Trainer, Mumbai