My 200 Hours Yoga TTC in Rishikesh – Shaun M. Leonard

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My journey into Yoga and way to my 200 hours Yoga TTC

I was first introduced to yoga during physical therapy for a dislocated ankle and fractured fibula I suffered playing college football. From that point forward, I began supplementing my strength and conditioning program with yoga to improve joint flexibility, mobility, and stability. Following my college career, I decided to take a step back from weight training. And I began to attend yoga classes a few times per week to maintain my fitness.

 

One day during a Vinyasa Flow class, I unintentionally entered a state of meditation. When I realized what I  experienced, it made me wonder if there could be more to yoga than just physical exercise. It was that moment, that created a desire for me to seek a deeper understanding of the history of yoga. And that search is what lead me to one of Rishikesh’s top yoga schools: Akshi Yogashala.

My experience about learning yoga in India

As soon as I arrived at the campus, I knew I am exactly where I supposed to be. And I am doing exactly what I supposed to be doing. The entire Akshi family – from reception to facilities management, from dining services to the gurus (yoga teachers) themselves – immediately embraced your presence. And they humbly welcomed you into their community. During orientation day management of the course clearly outlined the structure of the program. They met expectations and requirements. And the start of our journey as students and teachers celebrated with a fire ceremony.

 

The 200-hour yoga teacher training course itself was immersive and demanding. But at the same time, it was fulfilling and manageable. Words can’t really explain the experience in its entirety – it is simply something one has to live on their own to truly understand and appreciate. However, after the first day of class, I realized something. That yoga is more than physical fitness. In fact, I realized that I had never practiced yoga before. What I have done before is called practicing asanas. Moreover, yoga isn’t about handstands and impressive backbends. Yoga is an approach to life; a way of living based on thousands upon thousands of years of lived experience.

My realizations about YTTC in Rishikesh

My 200 hours teacher training course was a success. But, not because I achieved an advanced asana, passed a written examination, successfully led my own class, and received a Yoga Alliance certification. My 200 hours  yoga TTC was a success. Because it made me realize that as a teacher, I will always be a student first, and a guide second. And that piece of knowledge gained directly from the wisdom shared at Akshi Yogashala.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 200 Hours (Testimonial)

Shaun M. Leonard, RYT 200

Boston, MA, U.S.A.

ESSENCE OF YOGA

ESSENCE OF YOGA – THE 8 LIMBS

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Essence of yoga

The history of Yoga dates back to time immemorial, and includes a huge body of scriptures. That scriptures navigate the human experience and how we may train the mind through the body, thereby achieving the union of “Yog” with the all that is. So what is essence of yoga?

To witness the self as a direct expression of all that is. And without attaching to experiences, remaining free from conceptions and ideas. Whilst being spontaneously joyous, spring forth with universal knowledge both verbally and non-verbally as a direct outer of the eternal wisdom of the universal. This can become quite esoteric and difficult to comprehend. But may also be simplified when taken in the pathways of everyday practical Yoga routines available to us in real and tangible teachings.

The simplest of these is arguable the Astanga 8 limbs of Yoga. Which teaches us how we may walk the path the renunciates (Yogis) do, while we are still living in the material and commercial world of modernity and stressors.

Applying teachings

In fact, when we take written teachings and apply them where we are, it is the immediate experience. And this experience provides a learning environment and incentive to change our worldview and view of ourselves in it. And thus, we achieve greater knowledge of ourselves and others, our inner and outer world. So what is essence of yoga?

The Ashtanga teachings include a simplification and elucidation of the core yogic path. This was created to simplify and find an accord between the varying schools of Yoga. So it can sometimes cause much confusion to the beginning practitioner or potential student.

To summarize those principles here are the core 8 limbs as recorded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

1) Yama (ethical restraints) 2) Niyama (personal observances) 3) Asana (physical postures) 4) Pranayama (breath control) 5) Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) 6) Dharana (concentration) 7) Dhyana (meditation) 8) Samadhi (a state of unity)

The first two limbs consist of ethical and personal restraints and observances that lead us into more and more peace, thereby ensuring our practice may proceed with minimal obstructions. To go to the third step with no regard for the initial two is only going to create more challenges to your practice yielding the fruits your practice would otherwise provide. So it is best to adhere to the path of the ancient teachings in the acknowledgement that you will proceed more easily, and effectively through the path towards self realization and moksha, liberation and freedom from suffering for want of a better translation from Sanskrit.

The following are the breakdown of steps that make up the Yamas and Niyamas:

YAMAS (ethical restraints)

1) Nonviolence (Ahimsa) – doing no harm to oneself or to any living being or “From harming

ourselves and others to kindness and compassion for self and others”. 2) Truthfulness (Satya) – honesty and forthrightness without doing harm or “From lies and

half-truths to expressing our uniqueness and authenticity”. 3) Non-stealing (Asteya) – removing the tendency to look outwards for satisfaction or

“From theft to cultivating new skills and abilities”. 4) Non-excess (Brahmacharya) – being present to the divinity in life and not seeking more

or “From greed to appreciation and pleasure without excess”. 5) Non-possessiveness (Aparigraha) – freedom from desire to “own” or “keep” people,

status and material possessions or “From attachment to intimacy without possession”.

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NIYAMAS (personal observances)

1) Purity (Saucha) – continual clarification of our intent, thoughts, emotions and actions or

“Cleansing our bodies, our speech, our thoughts”. 2) Contentment (Santosha) – being at peace with the present state of awareness, internal

and external conditions or “Falling in love with our own life”. 3) Self-discipline (Tapas) – maintaining the drive and motivation to embrace eternal

change and create balance of “soft” and “hard” in ourself and practices or “Consciously choosing discipline and growth”. 4) Self-study (Svadhyaya) – to study the universal and small self, to also examine the

mind, its thoughts emotions and feelings arising in reaction to the external world, and learning the essence of our conditioned self to release this, so we may rest fully and completely in the expansive universal self and consciousness, or “Knowing the Self”. 5) Surrender (Ishvara Pranidhana) – to release control and embrace the progression

along the path as being like that of a river you have entered, carrying you downstream towards the ocean of enlightenment you release the need to struggle against perceived obstacles. This is essential for regaining faith in ourselves, and the outside world, embracing change and opening the heart and mind or “Paying attention to what life is asking of us”.

I trust that this brief explanation of the core principles in Yogic practice makes clear what was not before, and hides you along the path to union with truth, bliss, peace and consciousness.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

By Thomas Clayden Eckersley B.H.Sc

yoga teacher training in india

How to choose best Yoga teacher training course

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So, you want to do your yoga teacher training and curious how to choose best yoga teacher training course for you? That is awesome! In my opinion, doing a yoga teacher training program, even if you never intend to teach a day in your life, is one of the most amazing, life-transforming things you can do for yourself.

That said, with so many options for trainings out there, how do you even begin to decide which program is right for you? How do you know if the one you are going to be investing a few thousand dollars and at least 200 hours of your time into is going to pay off for you?

If you are feeling confused about your options, this post is for you. I have created this checklist of considerations to help you narrow down your search for programs that best suit you and your life.

1. Make Sure Your Training is Yoga Alliance-Certified:

As the international governing body for yoga, the Yoga Alliance has set the standard for what a properly constructed teacher training program must contain.

If you hope to teach yoga at some point in your future, you want to ensure that the training you choose is Certified by the Yoga Alliance; otherwise, you will not qualify for insurance.

I know it does not feel all that yogic, but insurance is a part of the world we live in, and an important point to keep in mind while you are program shopping.

I am not saying that taking a training that is non-Yoga Alliance certified is a mistake—there is a plethora of good non-accredited trainings out there—just know that your chances of teaching and teaching safely may be diminished if you disregard this credential in your decision.

2. Choose Hours That Work for Your Life:

For some, totally checking out of their everyday life and going on a retreat-style yoga teacher training is far more effective for learning. For others, doing their training in their hometown on evenings and weekends works best.

You have to think this through before signing up for anything. If you know that life is going to distract you from your studies, you are most likely better off getting out and away.

If you know that you need time to go away and digest concepts, perhaps doing your teacher training course over a longer period of time, with breaks in between sessions, will serve you better.

Take into account how you learn, and how much life is going to serve as a distraction from your learning. From there, you will have a better idea on what kind of training will serve you best.

3. Look into How They Teach Anatomy:

This is a big one. Make sure that your yoga teacher training program has a strong anatomy section. I would even suggest that you do some research on what the instructor of the program you are looking into has to teach that section.

Anatomy may not seem like the biggest deal when you are in the middle of trying to memorize all the Sanskrit names for postures or figuring out how to sequence properly.

Still, a solid understanding of human anatomy will not only transform your own practice into one that is ideal for your specific body, it will also enable you to bring so much more consciousness to your teaching in public and private classes.

Knowing your anatomy is going to pay off big time in the long run, so make sure it is really emphasized in your program.

4. Study the Program’s History:

Do some research into the history of the company with whom you are considering doing your training.

There are some companies that have been around forever, doing teacher trainings for years, and that have extensive experience delivering very strong programs.

It is not all that difficult to put a teacher training program together, however, and just because a program is certified by the Yoga Alliance, does not mean it is top quality.

Unless you have a ‘home’ studio that you know and trust through which you are doing your training, do a thorough background check on the company. Read reviews, talk to people who have been through the program, and get very familiar with your studio of choice.

5. Evaluate the Course Syllabus for Balance of Subjects Taught:

This is my favorite tip—each Yoga TTC is required a minimum number of hours dedicated to things like posture labs, anatomy, history, and philosophy—but each teacher training is going to emphasize different areas, and bring their own style to their program.

If you are really into the nuts and bolts of yoga asana, then a spiritually-focused program most likely isn’t for you. Likewise, if discussing the Yoga Sutras at length turns you on, then a super anatomy-focused program may make you feel less than interested.

Study the curriculum and ask about how many hours are dedicated to each topic if it is not advertised. Pick a program that speaks your language.

6. Do Research on The Instructors:

Lastly, check up on the teacher trainers with whom you are thinking of studying. Look at how long they have been teaching, how long they have been doing teacher training, and even at who trained them. This information is useful for deciding if you want to work with them or not.

I am not saying not to do your training with a teacher that does not have thousands of years of teacher experience—some of the best teachers I have ever worked with have been relatively new—I am simply suggesting you get an idea and feel for your instructors.

Take some public classes with the teachers who will be on your teacher training faculty as well. Make sure you enjoy their teaching style and connect with them.

So what do you think? Do any of these tips make choosing your program seem less overwhelming? If you have done your training, is there anything you would add to this list?

Miley Cyrus doing yoga

Miley Cyrus – Do Yoga or Go Crazy

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Miley Cyrus is not just a pop star, but also a dedicated yoga practitioner. She regularly practices Ashtanga Yoga, a physically demanding yoga style that helps with core strength. Through practice and dedication, her strength and flexibility have impressively increased. The yogi often shares photos and videos of herself doing poses on her Instagram.

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In March 2016, she wrote, “Gotta do yoga not for my body but for my mind! DO YOGA or GO CRAZY!”

She claims that she does yoga not for her body but for her mind.

Yoga is a practice that will test the practitioner both physically and mentally. True to Miley’s testament, most practitioners believe that the real surrender in yoga is a mental, rather than physical, obstacle.

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Cyrus’ latest snap of her practicing yoga is pretty inspiring. Sporting her new, fully bleached blonde ‘do, Cyrus nails Kukkutasana pose. It’s part of the Ashtanga yoga series, and it’s a pretty tough pose. It requires lots of arm and core strength to lift your legs off the ground, as Cyrus demonstrates. She makes it look easy.

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