How do I describe something like Sukha Mukha Yoga’s teacher training in one blog post? How do I use words without excited hand gestures while grinning and looking you in the eyes and saying IT’S THE BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE. TRUST ME.
I started teacher training in February. On the first day, I lied. A very yogic start. I told the circle of new teacher trainees (all who I had assumed were more flexible, stronger and therefore, far superior to me) I had been practicing yoga for two years even though it had barely been one. I felt ashamed of my inexperience, my skinny upper arms, my tight hamstrings.
However, by end of the second week I had already learned that strength and flexibility had very little to do with practicing, living and to my surprise, even teaching yoga.
This is one of the first myths to go. That teaching yoga means you must be part gymnast, part athlete, part asana veteran. Of course you can be all of these things, but you can also be none. Sukha Mukha Yoga teaches it is what is in your heart that counts, and quite conveniently, it takes you to a place that exposes to you what is there. It also teaches that at whatever time you arrive in the teacher training course, it is right. Because when you know, you know.
A centring thought of this program is that yoga is a journey of transformation back home to the self. This is perhaps the most succinct way to sum up my experience. And I believe that travelling this path of ‘arriving home’ is so invaluable, that I often tell people my teacher training “felt like ten years of therapy I didn’t know I needed.”
Apart from the lie I told, I remember three distinct messages from that first day. This will be hard for you all. At some stage, the difficulty will come and it will come seemingly from nowhere and it will hit you hard. This group will become a family to you. And finally, You will be able to competently and confidently teach a full class at the end of this course. I remember these three statements in particular, because they are the ones I doubted the most. These doubts show how little I knew about the deeply personal and emotional impact of yoga. About the grief that snuggles up alongside growth and letting go. I was unaware of the enormous healing power present in a supportive community of women. And I had so little confidence in being me.
In working through the limbs and philosophies of yoga, I began to work through the layers of myself. The ones that covered my heart, my truth and my confidence. In the five months I studied at Sukha Mukha, I learned more about life than I can express and I learned it all with the knowledge that it was just the beginning. Throughout my training life decisions became clear and undeniable. Intuition heightened. I let go of friendships, I let go of jobs, I removed myself from situations that were not right for me, I started living as myself for the first time in years. I looked forward to class with a hunger I had not experienced at school, university, or most other aspects of my life.
As well as joy, there were tears. A lot of tears. Because there is grief in healing and self-discovery and because yoga helps bring to the surface what has been holding us back without our knowledge. One attempt to come into an inversion on retreat, had me hurtling back to memories of high school, as if I were actually there, giving up things I excelled at and loved because I so badly wanted to be ‘cool.’ Standing in front of a yoga class in teaching practice was exciting and empowering and terrifying. But more than anything, it showed me people actually want to hear what I have to say. What I believe in. Something I didn’t know I deeply doubted. Something I didn’t know was holding me back.
I often tell people fondly of how I started my first yoga class giggling during the opening OM and left with my life completely changed, but the real changes, the real discovery and the real joy of yoga happened inside the walls of Sukha Mukha, a place that is forever in my heart. This teacher training set me on a path of learning and sharing, brought me home to myself and as a great by product of all that – I am confident and knowledgeable enough to teach a yoga class. It has truly been one of the greatest gifts of my life.