My Life in Words
Tips, travel, yoga, mentoring, life, and everything in between.
In 2012 I felt complacent. I had this RYT-200 certification in my hands for about a year after receiving it at a school in San Diego called YogaWell. I didn't know what I was getting into back in 2011 except that I wanted to understand yoga mentally and physically. I finished my course within a few months, which we were told it takes anywhere from 6-9 months as students were allowed to come as we pleased. Our course had a module design which was set up differently compared to most studios in San Diego. The key word here too readers is 'studios.' I went to a school where yoga was what you made of it, the learning, the process apart from the requirements under Yoga Alliance. There was no recipe, no heated studio training, no young fit athletic degree earning fitness trainee teaching you how to sculpt out and develop corporate-like practice. It was, 'here's what we are learning today' ranging from 3 students to 15 students per class. It was developed on the good faith of your intent to come in and learn. I opted for getting my course done with in 5 months. I showed up on evenings when no one showed up and because no other classmates would show up, the class was cancelled. It happened a few times or else I would of finished earlier then I did, but I can't complain of the speed I was able to get it done. Once I finished my documented hours, I had to develop a guide book on 25 asanas with photos, step by step instructing in yoga lexicon/lingo, present it to my E-RYT teacher for review along with my 10 practicums, 10 reviews of other teachers at different locations, and 3 workshops in order to receive my certification. I had such anxiety when I presented my book due to the fact that my main E-RYT was so critical in my practicums, I nearly cried after half of them. She had over 25 years teaching yoga, she was a Virgo so she was extremely analytical about alignment and making sure it was correct. When she did present me with my certification, she let me know that I was set out to be a good teacher based on my will of determination, participation in class, memorization of sankskrit, and soaking up as much knowledge as I could. The school however, does not teach you a sequence, that is up to you to develop and I was not ready.
Going back to the complacency of 2012. Something was missing in my connection with yoga, it wasn't tangible to me despite all the effort I put forth in getting my certification. I went to school at the time because I was having relationship issues and needed a balance, but it still didn't seem to do justice on me. I realized after I got my certification that I was sick of yoga. I turned to Pilates, Barre, Pole Fitness, Cardio, yoga was on the back burner. It helped me at the time while going to school, but not after. There were and are so many studios in San Diego that I felt I made a mistake choosing to go to this school rather then a Core Power YTT course or any other studio. [Keep in mind] Here in San Diego so many people are fit and it is somewhat competitive regardless of what anyone says. I didn't want to compete but I didn't want to follow anyone's foot steps either. Now, don't get me wrong about Core Power or any other studio training, they are ALL efficient, my school was efficient. It was different with the way they taught it because I didn't even understand what Hatha yoga was until I went in. Looking back now on my journey as I write this [I have said this many times over and will continue to say it], I am so glad I did choose YogaWell and where it led me today. When you receive your certificate, it's up to you as the practitioner to develop your own style and sequencing outside in the real world. It was up to me to make yoga what it would be to me and my interpretation of it. What was I to do? Well I wanted to understand yoga more indepth and needed to get out of dodge for a month or two to decompress my mind. I wanted to fall in love with it, to unify everything I was meant to unify and not feel as though I was inadequate by choosing a different path. So early 2012 I booked a trip to Thailand, did my research and found a retreat on Koh Phangan. Following the retreat I wanted to dabble in Thai Massage curriculum having a massage back round which I added to my trip as well. I had my trip planned for the most part in Thailand, and then where ever I went after was on a whim. The trip was booked for June/July and I was more then ready.
Throughout my trip I spent time at a retreat on Koh Phangan practicing under two different teachers from hailing from Spain and Germany. One had an Astanga back round and the other was Iyengar though she taught Hatha. I practiced in humid conditions overlooking lush jungle, walking to and from the retreat 15 minutes each way. After spending a week on Phangan, I went to Samui and spent another 6 days where I went to The Sanctuary and again practiced under different teachers from all over. I would ride my scooter 30 minutes each way to the Sanctuary practicing under a veteran Astangi who kicked my core ass with his teachings and another teacher from eastern Europe who taught Bikram. It was the most liberating feeling to have a mat on your back, ripping the roads on a scooter, practicing at such a resort style location. But my journey didn't end there. After Samui, I flew up to Chiang Mai to study Thai Massage at ITM.
By serendipity I discovered Wild Rose Yoga Studio in the old city. I ended up practicing there as much as I could while I went to school intensely for one week practicing under amazing teachers from all over the world. The style, the depth, the beauty of the studio was perfect even though I was exhausted. In one week, my body felt completely conditioned and challenged where I didn't want to leave. It wasn't like the studios back in San Diego, nothing was like the studios back in San Diego, it was the road less traveled and I was on it. Not only was I marching to the beat of my own drum, I built my own percussion line with the beats of multiple drums. I was sad to leave but I had to head to Hanoi to visit Halong Bay. (By the way, during this trip I stepped on coral so bad that it penetrated deep into right foot, cut my left foot up so I was walking with a limp since Koh Phangan and had an infection on my face).
The day I was scheduled to board my flight to Hanoi, I had a visa issue that unfortunately made me miss my flight and I had to catch an evening one after I had the visa issue resolved. However, prior to departing for Hanoi, I did my research on yoga studios in Hanoi finding only one, Zenith Yoga. When I arrived I wasn't quite sure where it was, but I had a map and was determined to get there. I was only in Hanoi for 5 days if I remember correctly and walked almost two hours to find this studio having not a clue where I was. Needless to say I did find it (off the map) and took my classes. I only took 3 classes there from an Australian, a Vietnamese who taught class bilingually, and a Canadian. I got my yoga fix and Halong Bay in so now it was off to Ho Chi Minh for a few days. The studio in Hanoi was nice and I'm glad I was keen on the adventure of walking to and from, day and night to the studio.
After arriving into Ho Chi Min, I didn't have a lot of time to explore as I was inclined to set out to Phnom Phen via the Mekong so I had to structure my time realistically. I unfortunately didn't find a yoga studio located near me in the city but I did go to a fitness gym that held classes and this particular class was a game changer. It was power yoga and I was in for an awakening. The class was full of Vietnamese in the ball park of 50+ attendees, the teacher was a track suit wearing Indian guy who walked in with a back pack, got onto a elevated platform, looked around the class that felt like a military drill formation. The first ten minutes of the class I asked myself, "What the f*ck?" Yes I was dropping the f-bomb in my mind. It was the most intense class ever and it wasn't even difficult to what you imagine it to be. What set it apart from all other classes I have taken on my trip and my entire journey for that matter was the authoritative nature of the beast. I nearly left! I wasn't sure if I could do this class where someone is counting down yelling. I finished the class, but I did walk out of there thinking, 'I think I just lost 90 minutes of my life just now because I don't even know what to make of my experience.' I wasn't disgusted with the way he taught either readers, he was a true Indian and this was a true power yoga class. No inversions no arm balances, but a physical challenge that mentally tested your detachment and interpretation of yoga. Not to mention the 50+ Vietnamese who chatted up like elementary children prior to the class getting started, but once he walked in, they were soldiers. Today, as I type this, with two years under my belt teaching and practicing, I would without a doubt take it again.
I didn't practice any yoga while I was in Phnom Phen and Siem Reap, Cambodia. I did some research as usual but there wasn't any place that seemed adequate to my limited time in Phnom Phen and/or Siem Reap. I spent only a day in Phnom Phen and a few days in Siem Reap. I also decided it was a genius idea to jump off a temple at Angkor Thom in sandals which nearly put me out. When I did this amazingly idiotic maneuver, I felt the pain so severely shoot up my right heel, I almost fainted or blacked out (which ever is the worst), thought for sure I broke my heel and completely contradicted my entire journey of being healthy and happy. I was now in pain and suffering. For the next few days I was loading up on pain killers, still opting to visit the sites (in shoes) but now my time was limited of walking around due to the vehement pain I decided to put forth on myself. Yoga was not an option and the trip was slowly and increasingly becoming a challenge. Hey shit happens right? This was a true test of what I had to understand about yoga overall.
After a few days in Siem Reap, I took a shuttle to Bangkok limping and dragging my bags across the border, in the airport and on the plane down to Bali. Back in Chiang Mai, the owner of Wild Rose referred me to a yogi who was in Bali and assisting a teacher in Ubud at the Yoga Barn. I was staying in Seminyak with an old buddy of mine who recommended I take the taxi ride and spend a couple days there. When I got to Ubud in the early morning and walked in to Yoga Barn, I felt like I found a yogic heaven. The assistant was a guy named Rusty who assisted Denise Payne in her power yoga and yin classes. Her power yoga class was nothing like the Indians in Ho Chi Min, it was challenging on a different level and fun. She was a teacher from Oregon who teaches regularly there at the barn and I took her classes as well as another class at Radiantly Alive just down the road. The class I took at Radiant was under another an American man this time who taught me about head stands which has helped me to this day with his subtle techniques. Keep in mind too I was loaded on pain killers but it wasn't going to stop me from practicing, especially in Ubud, Bali. I'll tough it out and I did.
When I returned back to the states after two months of traveling, I was eager to teach. I had a newfound connection with the journey it took me on and how it helped to mold me. I felt everything I learned in school and on my journey was relevant but not, it really didn't matter. I had the confidence to now develop my own style and feel at ease with it. However I didn't feel like I still was to be accepted with the style I was wanting to develop. I chose a different path to manifest that helped that compassion and passion. It really blew my mind how others taught, what I went through to find out who I was with my interpretation of yoga and the challenges I was able to endure on a whole other level. I felt compelled to spend hours picking music, picking asanas, and creating my own sequencing without someone saying it's not right. Who's to say what was to be developed is not right, each and every teacher opened every class differently, pushed me differently, interpreted yoga differently within the style they taught. Only a couple teachers who were certified under Mysore Astanga and Bikram followed what was to be followed, but others clearly made it to where I could relate. For the next four months, I spent time practicing and practicing and practicing, teaching a couple donation classes a week at a studio that offered pole fitness. I still felt slightly insecure due to so many people whom I knew opting for studio training and them working already within their program. But I didn't care because my next intention was to set out and teach overseas, to take it further with training, both in teaching and practice. Then a friend back in Cebu, Philippines put me in touch with Vaibhav Rana, his wife, and the Ashram..........