Somewhere in between the meditation and mantras, Satsang and Kirtan, pranayama and postures, you will find yourself slowly starting to transform. Immersing yourself in the practice of yoga will teach you profound life lessons, far beyond anything you would previously have explored or experienced.
The yoga teacher training may well end after a month, but you will carry the life lessons learned amongst the yoga teachers, the local people and fellow yoga students forever.
You will Learn to Breathe Properly
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. During your yoga practice you may have thought that is all there is to breathing on the mat, until you are introduced to Pranayama.
The word pranayama is easily understood once broken down. Prana refers to breath or the cosmic life force; Yama means to control or regulation. So, in essence, pranayama is about controlling the duration of inhale, retention, and exhale. By practicing breath work, we can begin to change the quality and quantity of the prana—and ultimately change our health and state of mind.
Life begins and ends with breath. It is the only thing we really need to survive. But oxygen is also responsible for eliminating waste and toxins; bringing oxygen to the blood and the brain; rejuvenating our organs; stimulating the Vagus nerve and reducing stress, anxiety, and disease. It’s hardly any wonder the ancient yogis devoted serious time to understanding and practicing the relationship between the inhale and the exhale!
Through practicing breath work, you will find yourself living with a new state of mindfulness and calmness. When obsessing over the past or worrying over the future, all you need to do is come back to the gentle rise and fall of breath throughout your body. By focusing on the breath, you can cultivate an overwhelming gratitude for the present moment – the only moment we are ever promised in life.
Everyone finds meditating difficult. You hear the same thing “I don’t think meditation is for me” —for the racing mind, the tendency towards ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’. It’s quite hard to allow yourself of going inwards, of having to sit in silence with no one but yourself. We have all grown up in a society that values and understands productivity, living in fast paced cities and sitting in stillness is anything but productive. You will slowly start to realise that meditation is more than just zoning out.
Meditation is about getting still and steady. From this stillness, we can take our attention inwards. Eventually, we might get to that space in between thoughts when our minds are completely quiet. But for most, meditation starts with attending to the thoughts that come up. With observing the thoughts and gently letting them pass through without judgment or analysis, merely noticing any patterns that occur. Through this process, the mind starts to slow down and get quieter. And it’s in this quiet space that we can return home within ourselves, devoid of distractions. As we become at peace within ourselves, we begin to discover our true nature that lies within us all.
Cultivating a New Way of Thinking with Gratitude
It isn’t easy completing the yoga teacher training and there are long days, waking up at 5am to start the day. It isn’t easy to have hours during the day for self-reflection. But despite the challenges and difficulties that inevitably arose, there will be moments of gratefulness. Being in the stunning natural environment in Costa Rica, so close to the sea, fresh air and having daily practices amongst new friends, there will always be times to be grateful.
At first gratitude may arise in waves. Like when gazing out at the ocean during a sun salutation, or when the sounds of howler monkeys serve as the backdrop for the morning meditation. These are the moments when it is easy to feel thankful—the moments when you can remember just how fortunate you are to take a month off to pursue self-growth and discovery.
The moments when you may feel gratitude slipping away will be the moments you will realise to come back to the breath. To the inhale and the exhale. To the home within yourself.
Spending a month around rich biodiversity in Costa Rica can be far beyond any expectation. When you are practicing yoga twice a day in this pristine environment, the moments of transformation and epiphanies are many.
Learning Proper Alignment
Proper alignment in yoga is important to not only minimize any risk of injury but to allow us the room to grow, change and advance both on and off the mat. On the mat with form and intensity we can physically see how the body changes. However, off the mat and in everyday life, are our values in alignment with the way we live? A good and regular yoga practice can help you to become clear about your life. At the same time, it can also take some courage. Take a few moments after your yoga practice writing down what your values are and how you want to be living your life. Then ask yourself if you are close to living the life that you wrote down. Ask yourself what changes do you need to make. Is there anything you need to start or stop doing? What about the people in your life? What about your work and where you live? This exercise can definitely feel scary. It also takes a lot of practice, courage, discipline, time and patience. But just like the practice of your asanas on the mat getting easier, the stronger and easier it becomes off the mat and true transformation happens. By consciously making good choices, many new doors can open.
Experiencing the Mind Body and Spirit Connection
Yoga works from the inside OUT. The postures are used as a symbol of the purification process. For the BODY, several of the poses involve twists to wring out, massage and strengthen muscles, tissues, and organs. Deep breathing, historically, is designed to build heat and burn off toxins. Try sitting still and breathing deeply and audibly in and out of your nose, like you are trying to fog a mirror, for 5 minutes. Make the inhale and exhale even and long, maybe count up 8 and down 8 – notice the heat that is built inside!
Like we clean our exterior, this practice of internal cleansing is up to the yogi on their mat and is truly a limitless practice. Following a clean diet and meditation will help you to have a clear MIND too. The yoga lifestyle and spending a month eating only pure, clean foods will leave you feeling light and focused, with a clear mind. Yoga was always meant to be for the whole of us, our BODY, MIND and SPIRIT.
Deep Spiritual Awakening
Yoga Teacher training is amazingly poignant; it completely supports your goals of healthy body, healthy mind and finding purpose. You will be at 5 a.m. each morning and in bed around 10 or 11 p.m. most nights, digesting full days of practice, anatomy and philosophy lectures, posture workshops and homework. It is exhausting, but in the most exhilarating way. You will learn about yoga, but also about yourselves through personal discussions and self-reflection activities. There will be experiences of extreme emotional highs and lows, facing your fears, make new lifelong friends, and enjoy gorgeous waterfalls, hikes through rainforests and white, sandy beaches along the way. Yoga Training will forever change your personal practice and how you teach.
Your understanding of yoga will mature into a much deeper level — from its origins and evolution to its more abstract spiritual qualities. It’s unsettling to realize you know so little about a major part of your life, but makes you appreciate it more for its complexities. Whether or not you want to teach yoga, a teacher training will always open new doors in your life and to your yoga practice. After all, we don’t practice yoga to get better at yoga, we practice yoga to get better at living.
The close proximity to the ocean offers the opportunity to explore the art of surfing, another flow-based spiritual practice that allows one to tap into a deep sense of connection and find oneness and peace with all that is. The ebb and flow of the waves teach us to flow with grace in this ever-changing journey of life. We find stillness within the movement; peace permeates our being.
Known for its beautiful beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity, Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise! A quarter of the land is made up of national parks and protected jungle, the largest in the world as a percentage of the country’s territory. Home to a rich variety of flora and fauna and diverse wildlife including spider monkeys, the quetzal bird and the three-toed sloth, Costa Rica has only 0.03% of the world’s landmass, but is estimated to contain 5% of the world’s biodiversity!
Costa Rica offers a variety of landscapes, microclimates, and something for everyone. Whether it is adventure, enjoying some of the best surfing, hiking or relaxation that you are seeking, this path is sure to lead to a wildly wonderful experience. You will take this experience with you for the rest of your life and it will be embedded in your way of living whether you decide to teach yoga or whether you decide to continue your daily practice. The friendships that you will make, the experiences you will have will be unique and deeply special.
START YOUR TEACHER TRAINING JOURNEY!
Sampoorna Yoga’s Teacher Training Courses are registered with Yoga Alliance USA. When you graduate from our school you will be eligible to register with them as a RYT, Registered Yoga Teacher, in your respective categories.