And just like that, it’s all over – 200 hours of yoga teacher training completed and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. It is over and we, who came together from all over the world – Australia, Canada, Hungry, Spain, Finland, UK… – will go our separate ways again, some travelling together, new friendships having been formed and to remain for a lifetime, others to return to their normal lives, touched by but not attached to those they met. For me it is like this. We came together as separate beings united by a single purpose – so many beads on a chain – and as that chain dissolves once more, returning to formlessness as yoga teaches us all things must, I make a prayer. A prayer of thanks to each and every bead in that chain. Some may have stood out for me more than others, but all were important – all unique – and I am grateful to each and every one.
At 5:30am yesterday morning, I got up and walked down the beach to the shala for the last time. The sun was rising behind the palm trees as I arrived at the shala for the practicum and fire ceremony, found as usual only one person other there. For some reason she has always been one of the first to arrive. I have often wondered why and have, over the weeks, been drawn to her, sensing her openness to the fearful process of stripping away that asana and meditation works and witnessing her appreciation, her transformation as she truly allowed herself to surrender – more perhaps than most – and as a result getting all the most out of the experience.
It is funny, but somehow, despite all the sun and tanning, her complexion has grown more transparent over the weeks – paler in a way, but not a bad way. Slightly vulnerable perhaps, but in a new-born baby way. Fresh, revitalised, renewed. The light when it shines shines bright, right from and through her. It is as if her outer-most layer has been erased away and there is only the prettiest, most delicate film of ‘self’ left. I feel honoured to have been a witness to this. Truly humble and in love – with the power of yoga, with the strength of this woman’s spirit, her honesty. She has truly been an outstanding jewel in the chain.
But perhaps what I see in this one person is true of us all when you look closely. I think we all feel it, even if it is not visible to others on the outside. Yoga has polished and refined us. Asana has stripped and sweated away toxins, baggage and left only what is most pure behind. Meditation too, chanting and pranayama has taken us closer to our true selves: our quietest breath and most sonorous inner voices, the loving OM that emanates from the heart, not the chitter chatter that waylays and distracts us, sending us sometimes to near panicked distraction. Yoga has touched us all, and I have been touched by all.
From Laura, I have seen how wonderful it would be to be a mum and share your life with a natural born yogi, a carefree and inhibited being who has brought more joy and insight to me than most of the very wonderful, experienced and adept teachers on our course. From Claire, to how to be direct and assertive with a big smile, a lot of grace, good humour and generosity towards others; to look outside of yourself and give support and constructive criticism to others, using the benefit of your intelligence to value and recognise the gifts of others.
From so many of the beautiful women – too many to mention by name – I have observed what it is to be graceful, feminine, soft and strong all at the same time. To be calm and quiet in spirit and still have endless joy and energy for life. To have a zest, a passion that is unsuppressible, insurpassible, boundless. To make friends with everyone you meet – man, elephant and child – and yet remain centred and true. Truly your own. How too to have hidden talents, hidden depths, and yet let them come to the surface and shine – to sing!
To burst free with laughter, yet speak slowly softly with forethought and intelligence. To measure each word and let nothing of violence be heard, though anger, frustration and pain may linger beneath the surface – a battle with yourself that you will not pass on to others. To have a compassion and care for those around you that is not self-interested, that has no thought of reward for the ego.
To be humble; to know and accept and walk with grace within the limitations and narrow constraints of one’s own body. To have humour, warmth and self-possession, even while you let the tears freely fall, the emotion freely pour out. Not to be a harsh critic of yourself or others, but to give everything a try and revel in your own success and others. “Wonderful!”
To smile quietly and patiently, giving to and caring for others; being tolerant with your own body and sensitive to the weaknesses of others. To truly listen, not to judge first and to keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, because at the end of the day “it’s only yoga.”
To use just enough effort and force to stand up, and sit down again. To work slowly at balance – on the mat and in life – allowing yourself the freedom to take a step back so that you may take that step up. And so much more. From learning a love of Savasana to a goddess-like serenity with which to sail through the heat and hassle of the toughest of days, I thank each and every one.
And I could be here all day and still not do justice to all the people who have shared their time and energy, their joy and pain. They each have their own story to tell, and it is not for me to share. I can only tell mine, but I am infinitely grateful to each and every one of them for embarking on this journey and staying the course; for being there from sun up to sun down, from alignment and anatomy through meditation and mysore to yoga nidra and yoga acrobatics. I’m not sure we quite reached Samadhi (there is only so much you can do in 200 hours after all), but we got pretty close. It was certainly joyful and blissful in equal measure. Thank you one and all.