„Welcome to the TTC – the Teacher Training Course, or, if you want, the Total Transformation Course“, said one of my teachers in the first week of the Yoga Teacher Training Course at Trimurti Yoga in Goa, India. This was the moment I had been waiting for a long time; I had booked the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Course in August last year. Now I was finally there in Goa, the course was about to begin that would certify me as a multistyle yoga teacher within one month. One month that I would practice yoga more intense than ever and that I would live closer to a true yogic lifestyle than I ever did before. One month that was supposed to transform me into a better, happier and healthier person. Did it work out? Let me share my experiences.
Body: Sweat, Limits and Banana Bread
According to yoga philosphy, body, mind and soul have an inseparable influence onto one another – that’s why I want to cover all three aspects in this review. Let’s start with the body.
Asana practice: I won’t lie to you – yes, of course it is exhausting to practise yoga twice a day. Every day we practiced two hours in the morning and 1,5 hours in the afternoon – only Saturday afternoon and Sunday off. Of course, this occasionally pushed us our physical limits. Besides chronically sore muscles, some injuries happened as well. There were issues with shoulder, ankles, wrist… all this yoga practice doesn’t leave the body unaffected. I didn’t injure myself, maybe because I usually don’t push myself to my limit (nice way of saying I’m sometimes a bit lazy and a fraidy-cat). However, we were all able to see a certain progress in our practice. The Chaturangas (“yoga push-ups”) got noticeably easier and at the end of the course I managed to get in and out of my headstand without support after I had been struggling with this asana ever since (which is, I am convinced, more a mental than a physical thing).
Eat: Proper diet is an important aspect of a yogic lifestyle – that’s why I was very curious about finding out what kind of food we would be served at Trimurti. All meals from Monday to Friday and Saturday breakfast are included in the price of the course.To keep up with the yogic lifestyle, it is all satvic food – that means balanced and vegetarian. Generally, I was very happy with the food, especially the breakfast, which was either fruit salad with banana bread (my favourite), banana porridge or fruit with muesli and yogurt, and it always included ginger tea. The other two meals were usually a big plate of rice, salad, dhal (lentil soup), bread and salad. As the yoga philosophy recommends to avoid extremes, the food was sparely spiced. In the beginning, I loved all the food, however, the lunch and dinner got very boring after a while as there is a lot of repetition (which, surprisingly, didn’t annoy me in the breakfast). However, for a fair price we could also buy delicious carrot and chocolate cake, chocolate balls, fresh fruit juices, omelettes, tea and coffee.
On the weekend, we usually explored the restaurants around the beaches, where it was easy to find cheap and delicious Indian food (try Fatima’s corner in Agonda), but also pizza and choice of vegetarian, vegan and clean eating restaurants (I recommend Zest and Space Goa). Yogic philosophy says you should eat to live and not live to eat – however, eating is a physical pleasure that I enjoy too much to fully approve of this concept.
Sleep: For the time of the yoga teacher training, Trimurti offers cottages and a villa to stay in. I stayed in a small wooden hut with attached bathroom by myself, but there are also cottages that are slightly bigger to share with another student, which makes the course fee a little bit cheaper. I usually slept well after all the busy days during the course. The bed was comfortable and Trimurti provided clean bedsheets and a mosquito net. However, the living standard keeps you aware of the fact that you are out in the jungle. I actually shared my single room with ants, spiders and geckos and my bathroom with a little frog that especially liked the sink. I don’t really consider this as a problem as I got used to the animals soon. I admit that I screamed when the frog crawled out of the hole in the sink for the first time. But after a few days I looked at the frog and thought: „Hey little friend, you were probably here before I was and you will still be here when I leave, so what would give me the right to kick you out? Thanks for letting me share this room with you.“
Climate: I flew to Goa from cold and snowy Berlin on the 1st of February, so of course the Goan climate was quite a difference. It is very sunny and between 28 and 35 degrees Celcius. Only during the night the temperature sometimes drops to chilly 18 degrees, therefore we needed jumpers and scarves for our morning practice starting at 6:30. I arrived in Goa two days before the course started, so I had the chance to get used to the climate a little, however practicing yoga in the heat means a lot of sweat. But as long as you drink enough water and just accept being sweaty as status quo, it is absolutely possible to handle the heat. And it makes you appreciate the swims in the ocean on days off.
Mind: Breaking the patterns
„Yoga is to break the patterns of the mind“ – that’s one of the oldest definitions of yoga written by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Most people are ruled by their mind that makes them fear and worry by playing tricks on them, and its patterns makes them repeat mistakes leading to unhappiness. Thus, yoga is supposed to make us control our mind and use it when we need it, not the other way around. And, of course, we needed our minds during the teacher training course, as we knew from the beginning that we would finish with a written and practical exam, so we needed mind control. And still our mind would occasionally play tricks on us by making us stressed.
Thus, the yoga teacher training is not a pure zen meditation. For those who care about getting the certificate, there is a certain amount of pressure. After a busy day starting at 6:30 in the morning and ending at 7 in the evening, we sometimes still had to read and study or practice for our teaching practicums. This is what kept me from getting completely absorbed by a meditation bubble and also kept me from being present all the time, which is actually the goal of yoga. However, it was absolutely worth all the classes and studying because the amount of knowledge I acquired within these four weeks is impressive. As I keep traveling after the course, I am currently in a hostel in Bali and whenever I talk to other travellers and mention that I just completed a yoga teacher training, they are very interested and ask me a lot of questions about yoga. And I surprise myself by observing how easily I am able to answer all their questions. I also exchanged private yoga classes for free scooter rides and the students I had until now always left my “class” very happy and relaxed.
Did all the yoga manage to stop the patterns of my mind? Well, regarding the compassion I developed for the frog in my bathroom and many other beings in the world might answer this question clearly with “yes”. To investigate further mind transformation, I probably should take a look at my soul.
Soul: Union with the Universe?
The Sanskrit word “Yoga” means “to separate” (the unreal from the real), but also “union” – to unite yourself with pure consciousness, the universal soul. Which inevitably results into a deep connection with all beings in the world, as deep inside we are all one. I already developed a connection to my little pet in the bathroom. But the most important aspect of this union is the energy we created between each other within the four weeks we spent together for the yoga teacher training. So, like with every group you spend a lot of time with, there was plenty of fun, inspiring conversations and new friendships. But I think all the yoga also made us connect on a deeper level. This was especially noticeable during our mornings of silence. Between the early morning until 10 am we were not allowed to talk, so we even ate our breakfast together in silence. Still it never felt weird, because we somehow communicated on a non-verbal level. I think my four weeks in Trimurti also changed my way of looking at people in general. I now find it much easier to directly look at their soul instead of getting stuck on their physical aspect.
Yoga Teacher Training Course: Total Transformation?
Now, a few days after I left Goa to continue my journey in Bali, I’m lying here on my bunk bed in a hostel close to Canggu Beach asking myself: Did the promised transformation happen? Or am I still the same, but certified to teach yoga? I think the transformation that happened is that I am now more confident about the direction I was already going in. I was on the right way before I did the course, but the course helped me to get rid of my doubts and fears. My subconsciousness obviously knew before that traveling to Asia was a good idea. My subconciousness also knew that writing and freelancing is a good idea. My mind had doubts about all these things. Now I am much more relaxed, knowing that I am right exactly where I am and that whatever will happen in the next months of this crazy and insecure time of my life will be right as well. And wherever I will go jobwise – now I have one more option as I can teach and share yoga.
I also feel that I am now stronger in setting my priorities and stick to them. This evening some guys in the hostel invited me to play a drinking game with them. I hesitated. They seemed nice, but do I really want to fall back into my old patterns, the patterns I ran away from? All that superficial party party stuff, social connections that are based on nothing but alcohol? According to yoga philosophy, alcohol should be avoided because it makes body and mind lazy. However, moderation is also one of the keywords of a yogic lifestyle. Thus, I wouldn’t mind having a few drinks and nice conversations. But then there should be a connection that is a little deeper than a drinking game. I smile and say no, then I go to my room to finish this article sitting on my bunk bed. Tomorrow I am going to leave the hostel and move to a Balinese homestay, that will hopefully suit my transformed self a little better. Today I definitely managed to break the patterns of my mind – which results in a transformed soul.
Thinking about enrolling for the next course at Trimurti? Feel free to contact me if you have further questions.