It’s November 2018 and the summer months before was a time when everything in my old life, fell apart. I had been waiting, saving and planning for a few years to make certain dreams manifest and now was the time. I’ve just turned 33 and I’m living back at my Dad’s house with my belongings in boxes, I’m feeling depleted with low self worth, yet I spend every day attending the local leisure centre’s gym to keep busy, prepare my body and visit the library to research which yoga teacher training I felt called to do? It seemed like the necessary next step to encourage me to change my life.
I initially had other ideas which I believed I was dead set on on at the time, over the past few years I was planning on doing my training on a Thai island; until I discovered Jai Wellness. This company piqued my interest because they advertised as a Holistic yoga teacher training with the inclusion of Ayurveda. With my love of holistic education, creative therapies and alternative medicine plus my basic knowledge of Ayurveda and my growing passion for nutrition and Herbalism, this training seemed to tick all the boxes and bring all the things I love together as one. How unique and magical?! I believe soon after being in contact with the lead teacher, reading a little bit more about the training, checking dates and discussing everything with a close friend; within a week of finding Jai Wellness I quickly secured my place with a deposit. It all happened so fast and it felt serendipitous.
Arriving in Canggu (Pronounced Chan-goo) Bali on the 9th March 2019, I am ecstatic yet nervous. I can feel imposter sydrome creeping through my mind (Who am I to believe I could be a yoga teacher?) whilst my heart is extremley revved up to finally make this dream a reality (feeling like a big kid). So much emotion was stirred up inside me, a kleiderscope of sensations running through my body and churning through my stomach as I arrived at the front desk with a cheery yet stoic smile, trying not to give away that at any moment I might melt into a nervous puddle as the receptionist announced that my room mate had just arrived 30 minutes ago (great, another thing to be nervous about) and I was ushered to my room.
My room mate Janie was from Nashville Tennesse, a super sweet woman with large, beautiful brown eyes and warm smile to match. An architect and Interior Designer by trade, she was also a yoga teacher too, having previously done her first 200hr in her home town a few years ago, she came on this training with Jai Wellness to gain more knowledge of Ayurvedic yoga. For the entire course we became close friends and even spent two weeks in Ubud together once the training was over, just site-seeing before parting ways- Janie to Tokyo and myself to Australia.
The 22 days of training were transformative and challenging. It was invigorating to be challenged in such a positive way, to be encouraged and guided, all the students were respected as individuals and we were asked to discover our own unique voices and holistic approach to the practice. The teachers Nicole and Alvaro guided us to explore our intuition, the inner child and the internal, authentic self. Nicole and Alvaro are exceptional teachers, with their combined knowledge of all things Yoga and Ayurveda you really are in for a real treat! I liken Nicole to the elements of earth and water, the wise woman and the high priesstess who opened all of us up to the magic in the mundane, Yoga Philosophy, Ayurveda, the body-mind connection and more. Nicole’s teaching method is gentle yet serious, practical with a hint of magic, earthy yet flowing. Alvaro was a bundle of delightful, elf-like energy and I liken him to air and fire! With his vibrant voice, large smile and joyful disposition constantly making everyone laugh, made for a calming atmosphere. He brought the inner child out of all of us and gave us confidence to teach. Alvaro mainly taught us yoga asana, yoga sequences, anatomy, how to teach, how to bring Ayurveda into postures and classes and how to hold space. Nicole’s classes were mainly in the form of lectures and discussion and Alvaro’s classes were predominantly practical, thus giving the entire training a beautiful balanced energy through out.
As with any 200hour yoga teacher training, all the fundamentals had to be covered. So we learned about the history of yoga & Yoga Philosophy, Anatomy, the Yamas and Niyamas, the Bhagavad Gita & Hatha yoga Pradipika, the principles of warm-ups, the Chakras, Sun salutations, Prana and Kryias, meditations, mantras and mudras, Sanskrit names for the poses, sequencing, teaching, asana adjustments and creating a class.
On top of all this, Nicola and Alvaro included: Introduction to the Shad Dharshan which is understanding the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, The Samkya Philosophy & Involution of Consciousness: The Journey from the Doshas to Samadhi, moon salutation, fire and full moon ceremony, the Ayurvedic approach to teaching yoga, the doshas and knowing your constitution, Ayurvedic talks about nutrition and lifestyle, sequencing and leading for Kapha, Pita and Vata as well as the seasons and elements, the tri-doshic theory, balancing the doshas and sensory care, introduction to aromatherapy as well as color and sound therapy for the doshas.
Alvaro also gifted us with two beautiful yoga classes over two evenings, the first being a restorative class with singing bowls and sound therapy and the second an introduction to Kirtan. A special guest teacher also made an appearance and gave us an introduction to Acro-yoga and we were blessed with classes on Ayurvedic cooking over three days with Dr Siarupa, a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and Naturpathic doctor! Both Alvaro and Nicole organized a beautiful fire and full moon ceremony on the beach too. This was a gorgeous combination of letting go (death and rebirth) with manifesting desires with the blessing of the moon. We all sent Canangs (Balinese offerings) out into the ocean and burnt away words written on paper that we wanted to let go of. I loved every moment of that, I felt emotional yet content to be experiencing such a powerful ceremony with incredible people.
Homework was also bequeathed us but we were not overloaded with it. One assignment involved creating our own warm-up, another was a written assessment answering questions about a chosen asana, breaking it down in terms of muscles used, contraindications, its mythology and asanas that have similar movement. The homework given was more like a guide line to help us think about how there is more to each asana and sequence than the physical movements. Essentially to encourage us to think outside the box and deepen our knowledge.
In many ways this training was very internal, we were encouraged to reflect on the meaning of everything and how its all connected. Unlike many ashtanga and Power based, fitness styled teacher trainings that teach students a regimented sequence repetitivley. Nicole and Alvaro really wanted us to go within and use our intuition, see beyond the generic notion of what practising yoga is in the West. It was truly a fascinating journey of self discovery and deepening my knowing of Yoga.
But don’t think this training is an easy ride either. The daily routine was reasonably strict, waking up at 6am taking a vow of silence to pacify Vata energy, you perform
Jihwa Prakshalana (tongue scraping) and Abhyanga (self massage with organic coconut oil), then at 7am the students gather together to perform kriyas and meditate for about an hour as the sun rises, soon after that we’d practice yoga for another hour or so until we break our fast and our vow of of silence at 9:30am where we were served Vegan and Vegetarian Ayurvedic breakfast until 10:30am. For about two hours we attend a lecture on Ayurveda before breaking for lunch, soon after we had an hour lecture on Yoga philosophy and by 3pm until 6pm we had a three hour “yoga lab” class with Alvaro in which we broke down what we learned in the morning, created lessons and practiced teaching each other. After our evening meal and homework we were exhausted by 9pm and ready for bed by 10pm. This was the basic routine for the 22 days.
For a 200hour yoga teacher training programe, there was a lot to take in, probably a lot more information than a typical 200hour but that is what made this training unique. It is currently one of a kind because not only does it include Ayurveda respectivley, both teachers show us that once upon a time Yoga and Ayurveda were not separate- they were part of a whole, essentially a holistic practice termed “Ayuyog”.
To be able to tailor classes to specific constitutions, to pacify a dosha type, or create sequences for the seasons or even the moon phase is pretty incredible. Its given me space to breathe and add my own flare to it. Which is what the teachers wanted in the first place, they gave us the foundation to grow from and we were guided to utilize our personalities and passions. For me personally, as a Vata-Kapha, I discovered that I’m heavily obsessed with Bhakti (devotion/love) which is actually a very Kapha thing to enjoy. Everything I do is with love and for love and with a sprinkle of creativity and magical realism. So during times where I lead or taught small groups I’d offer a poem or sing a mantra as though it was a lullaby, tapping into the the mother archetype loving the inner child within each of my colleugues. I discovered my love of Kirtan (devotional singing) and my use of props to awaken the senses in a class.
For my final exam I included asana based upon the dance of Shiva around a ring of fire- this is both a yoga asana sequence and used in classical Indian dancing, it is also incorporated into moving meditations. Again, bringing devotional dance movement into the way I teach yoga. To end my session I researched that the sun’s vibration has a similar sound and pulse to singing bowls, so encouraging everyone in the class to lie down and focus on their solar plexus (associated with the sun) I walked around them with my singing bowl, guiding them to imagine that the sound of the singing bowl is how their solar plexus might sound and to then connect that to the sun, reminding them that essentially everything is connected and everything is love, is goddess.
This 200hour teacher training has been unforgettable, there were tears from internal frustration and personal traumas triggering me throughout which I had to work through but most often than not, there was always smiles and laughter. I was so dedicated to the learning because I found everything that Nicole and Alvaro taught to be so fascinating! I would especially love to study more and work with Nicole because I feel that she is where I want to be, she is walking the path of the wise woman, the mystic, the archetype of the High Priestess. She’s a certified yoga therapist and energy medicine practitioner and I am on my way to being a similar practitioner utilizing my knowledge of art therapies, mental health awareness, my spiritual practice as a pagan priestess and my growing love of herbalism and energy/subtle body work. As a newly qualified yoga teacher, women’s circle facilitator and Reiki practitioner I feel so inspired and so full of love for life.
This training has brought me back to myself, reminded me of who I truly am and unlocked aspects of myself I had hidden and didn’t even realize existed.
The next step in my learning is to gain more knowledge of herbalism and Ayurveda and I’d like to do short (top up) trainings in Yin yoga, Restorative and Womb Yoga (women’s health) in the distant future.
The next step in my journey is to get teaching and facilitating!
Those of you who found this article interesting and wish to learn more about Jai Wellness, click on the links below: