Photo of Ana Davis, yoga teacher.

Why are yoga teacher trainings so popular?

Facilitating yoga teacher trainings is one of the most rewarding occupations I’ve been involved in, and that has been for thirty years.

Even with a pandemic in full flight has not stopped yoga teacher trainings. They are still being carried on, mainly by video conferencing. Even with huge numbers of yoga teachers registered in every part of the planet, still more are being churned out.

What is the attraction?

Teacher trainings are much more than Sanskrit, anatomy, philosophy and asana courses. In the hands of good trainers, they are programs for personal development. Especially if the training is longer, a year-long or more, trainees will learn better ways of relating to themselves and others. They will move in the direction of living a life of fulfilment.

Right from the beginning of a training, the experience can be one of coming home to oneself. I certainly felt this kind of homecoming and still do each class I teach and each practice I do.

I was reminded of the value yoga teacher training when I received this lovely bit of writing from Ana Davis. Ana was a trainee at Sydney Yoga Centre in 1996. A highly regarded yoga teacher and trainer, she is now pursuing another passion–writing–which generated this following piece. The ‘prompt’ from Ana’s writing course was: Think of an incident in your life that had a formative impact on your current identity.

The antidote

There are only a very few times in my life when I have felt like I’d come home; that I’d found what I’d been looking for, unlike the song, and January 1996 was one of those times.

 

I was 25, newly arrived in the big smoke—a disembodying metropolis that had me feeling alone and lonely.  I had been combing through the classifieds, why, I don’t recall.  Was I looking for something in a conscious or deliberate way?

 

Those were the days when one read the classifieds with interest and curiosity; we didn’t have the internet then, or smart-phones. I had spent many a lonesome Saturday morning with a cumbersome pile of newspapers in an inner-city café, reading, hoping for, what? Connection? Something to fill the hole: of youth, of potentiality…?

 

Anyway…there it was: an innocuous little ad that was to change my life.  I rang the number.  On a phone.  A real phone, connected by a phone line in our Newtown share-house, where it sat in its place of honour on the scuffed coffee table on which my flatmate would rest his Doc Martins, despite my disapproval, which surely must have been obvious.

 

Anyway… the woman who answered was softly spoken and American.  There was a smile in her voice and her speech was full with pauses.  Pauses that spoke of a quietude that was abiding and deep.  And I wanted ‘in’.  I wanted what she was having.

 

There I am:  ascending the little steps of a back-alley warehouse in trendy Surry Hills. ‘Clifton Reserve’, a surprising little oasis, tucked away from the thundering traffic of Crown Street.  The yoga studio was dark but friendly, with strange ropes hanging from the loft-style rafters and moored into the exposed brick walls.  The carpet was thick and pale and was to become a familiar place of repose: enveloping me in a loving way as I lay, like a corpse, sweaty, shaken, and content.  The annex-room at the top of the stairs was to become a place of rowdy, joyful conversation as bodies, both male and female, stripped off their city skins, ready to make peace with themselves.

 

And there I am walking down Crown Street, past the cafes that were to become our post-practice haunts during our year of self-discovery.

 

There we all were: spilling around teetering tables, languid and light, over frothy cappuccino mugs and tall, fruit-filled muffins.

 

And I knew it.  My body knew it.  I was home.  A nascent fluttering in my belly that rose up and filled the sad spaces in my chest told me I’d found my tribe; I’d found my way forward.

 

I’d found what my body had ached for, but didn’t know, not until that moment.  And in the months to follow, it was to joyfully take its prescribed shape: the soft puppy fat dropping away, replaced with contours of toned, long, lean muscles, a straight spine, and a self that was finally sure and whole, and had nothing to do with alcohol or the intellect,  or food that comforted, rather than healed.