JOURNAL// "On leading three Yin Yoga teacher training courses in North Goa, India."// by Kelly Mason
"We transformed in our own ways, we shifted and shed, we began to understand ourselves better."
My goodness where to begin but the beginning of this truly wonderful experience during the end of 2017 into the beginning of 2018.
I had just finished my 900hr teacher training certification and I had to direct my attention to all things Yin as I prepared for assisting on a 300hr Advanced teacher training at a small location in Mandrem beach, Goa, India.
So that's exactly what I did. I arrived from Mumbai and was met at the airport by my transfer who would be taking me to the North Goan beach location of Mandrem.
Soon after I arrived onsite and after a few introductions I took myself to my temporary home; the first floor of a beautifully blue building onsite.
First thing was first and all my books were taken from my case and placed on the table next to my bed.
You would think that a girl who has never experienced Goa before would be out on the beach, tasting the local cuisine and enjoying the night life Mandrem and surrounding beaches but oh no, you would have me all wrong...
The week was spent dedicated to my practice and refining my framework for the 6 days of teaching the advanced teacher training students all that is Yin and Vinyasa Yoga.
I was excited and terrified all rolled into one being. It was daunting that I would be teaching teachers of a practice I had so deeply fallen for.
I do not lie when I tell you I spent my time in my room with the door slightly open and only leaving to eat for the next seven days.
I spent hour upon hour of reading material of complimentary writings, reading, refining and reviewing the texts I had written for the manual regarding the practices of Yin and Vinyasa Yoga.
Before I knew it, the first week had flown by and I was one day away from featuring on one of my first teacher training courses.
Before teaching commenced I decided everything within my power was done and I had committed to it fully. I had given all of myself to the refinement of understanding and being able to teach what I was there to teach and that everything else is out of my hands.
I took comfort in my faith that things would be OK and if not, that's OK too if I know that I did my best.
Teaching throughout the week was wonderful and the response from the students made me beam like a woman living her calling and one living it and actually doing it well.
The students were receptive and appreciative of the knowledge I was willing and wanting to share with them and they could see straight through me. They could feel that I was giving them everything that I had and could squeeze into each session.
As quickly as the week began it came to an end and we all said our goodbyes not long after as my flight back to the States was booked for the very next day.
As I left the ashram and caught my flight I sat there with appreciation and reflecting on the last few weeks.
Here I gently smiled knowing that I would be returning very soon.
One the first teacher training was complete and we had had our goodbyes I took my flight to California where I remained with one of my most beloved for the next three weeks.
During this time my body completely collapsed and I was forced to take some much needed rest as it was here that I began to recover from a standing injury in my right hamstring that had further developed into pain throughout the entire right side of my body.
My practice hadn't stopped since the injury four months previous but I had adapted to the circumstance of the injury in my body and tried to accommodate it as best as I could with my schedule at the time however it seemed I wasn't giving myself enough attention and by the time I arrived home I was needing some time off.
After rest and three wonderful weeks of living again how I had once lived, I said my goodbyes and me and my accumulated items were shipped back home to the UK for where I would visit for a mere 5 days before returning to India.
I flew in and back out of the UK before I knew it, back to Mumbai for almost a month where I began to prepare for teaching the 50 Hr Yin yoga teacher training's I had been invited to lead during the remaining season of 2018.
Before I knew it the time in Mumbai was over and I flew to Goa where I spent Christmas and New year in the south.
After yet another few, no less and no more painful, goodbyes I arrived back onsite where I would be teaching for the next three months.
The routine as before remained the same, the first thing I did was unpack all the relevant and complimentary material and locked myself in my room reading in preparation of the courses ahead.
Before I knew it, as before, the first teacher training was underway.
Throughout the months of January to May 2018 I took the lead on six 50hr Yin teacher training courses. I would teach guided evening meditations and would conduct each morning class for not only my students, the students on the advanced 300 hour & 200hr teacher training's but also all vacationers also staying onsite.
The lead and the star throughout the teaching was the practice of Yin yoga itself with many students experiencing profound emotional and physical shedding and shifts they never knew they could expose. Through the practice of Yin Yoga many students realised and felt the stagnation and resistances within their own bodies.
I watched my students open physically, mentally & emotionally; they opened their minds and allowed my direction and guidance to take them to places that alone they weren't aware they could visit.
"I was excited and terrified all rolled into one being. It was daunting that I would actually be teaching teachers of a practice I had so deeply fallen for."
There were too many beautiful specifics to go into all the details when it comes to some of the most profound moments between me as a teacher and them as my students but during that time we transformed in our own ways, we shifted and shed, and we began to understand ourselves better. We began to understand what we required and what we needed relevant to our circumstances.
We grew together, we let go together, we sang together, we lived together, talked, experienced, shared and supported throughout our journeys.
There were several students who stayed onsite with me for several weeks and to watch the transformation in each one of them has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had being a teacher so far in my career.
Even those who were only with me a select number of sessions would approach me and be thank full for my insight, my perspective, my views, my understandings and the way I would gently but directly guide them deeper into themselves.
Some of the feedback that I would receive from my students during this time would bring both myself and them to tears.
To become a teacher by teaching had never been so clear to me than
during this time of delving in and teaching.
"Practice by doing" and that it’s OK not to be perfect and not to know everything to teach.
Throughout the teachings my mantra which I would repeat to myself was " All you can do is your best" and that is exactly what I did, for myself but also for my students.
It was my responsibility as a teacher to guide them as best as I could, to teach them how to investigate themselves, to self-enquire, to try and understand why they are the way they are, what brought them here and to help and encourage them to find the answers that only they have inside.
It was my role to uncover for someone what is going on within them or what has built up inside them as it’s a wondrous practice and a privilege to experience.
Yin yoga, at first glance, seems like a gentle approach to oneself but it can also be an opposite where brutality and no hiding of self can be found and as a teacher I needed to be available to my students to support them through.
Some students would, at times, not have the best of experiences as the practice requires the students time to be left with only themselves. Fortunately for me these students were reoccurring and to reach that kind of release they would have had to have been there for several days for these build-ups to be given time to release. It also gave me that extra time as a teacher to help them confront and overcome these build-ups.
"We grew together, we let go together, we sang together, we lived together, talked, experienced, shared and supported...
I watched my students open up physically, mentally & emotionally; I watched them open their minds."
I already knew deep down I was meant to teach but would never confidently say such things out loud.
By conducting the teacher training's and being such a huge part of the team holding up the space throughout the Goan season I knew, I was meant to teach, to try and inspire through my own practice and dedication, through my words, through the way that I would hold myself, conduct the sessions, the honesty I would bring and the amount of myself I would share with the groups.
I would show the whole spectrum of myself. Offering myself as an example in good, bad and ugly ways for them to know that they too can access all sides of themselves and explore.
Throughout the Yin yoga teacher training’s, I was able to hold a space where I could share my practice, my understandings and my experience of yoga and how it has benefited and impacted my life thus far, to share this with students and allow them to experience what I have but in their own unique way.
By sharing apart of myself with them through my teachings they gave me a part of themselves back with their feedback, their breakthroughs, their sharing, their support and eagerness to continue with the sessions and their progression even sometimes in the mitts of fear or doubt.
I am so proud of myself for what I accomplished and equally proud of all the students who were involved in my sessions and my teachings for being open to evolve, to be open to learn, to see and strive for a deeper understanding of themselves. What their limitations are, what are their strengths, weakness, indulgences, needs and who and what they are on their most subtle level.
To have them know what it feels like to clearly enjoy the experience that we have been given as a gift each day. Cultivating new habits to start each day off as a new day and to start it well, to become the witness and not to get too involved in there, at times, overloaded monkey minds.
I am thankful for, repeatedly, my students. I am thankful to my disciplines and my eagerness and energy to learn, grow, feel and to want to see clearly.
I am thankful for the openness of my students. I'm grateful for the humility within me that says no knowledge is my knowledge and all of it that I have I will share for this is my duty as a teacher.
I can’t thank the stars enough for the ability to teach and to teach well.
I can’t thank the moon enough for the students I have been given from the ones willing to those of much resistance.
I thank the sun lastly for the ability to be able to continue my passion of teaching what I know, teaching what I love, teaching what I experience and for what it is I feel each day with the practice of Yoga in my own life.