A journey to becoming a Yoga Teacher
‘In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.’
John Muir (1915)
We all come to yoga in different ways. For me I saw an advertisement for a yoga class and thought I’d like to try it out. The class was held in an empty building that had huge windows overlooking the Noosa River, an idyllic setting to be practicing asana. I’ve never forgotten that first class when the instructor said “take a moment to feel the difference between the right and the left leg before raising your left leg and repeating the practice” during Utthanpadasana (leg raise pose). I remember pausing, really feeling and being aware of the difference, thinking wow this is amazing, I want to know more.
That was 30 years ago, I was 23 years old, a uni student and had rowed a wooden boat across the clear calm river to the class. A year or so later the classes had moved to a small brick room which was below an active lawn bowls club and beside two tennis courts. Laughter and loud chatter could be heard from the bowls club members as well as the scores being called out on the courts whilst we practiced yoga. What a change from the serene amenity of the river. When I look back on it now I realise it was an excellent place to learn as it helped me understand that I didn’t need to be in a quiet place to practice, yoga could be practiced anywhere.
I was enjoying the weekly yoga class however I wanted to know more. So when I was 30 and backpacking around the world, just as many other seekers have done, I stopped in India. It was during this time that I participated in my first 10-day Vipassana (silent meditation) retreat in Bodh Gaya, India, the town where Buddha obtained enlightenment. The Vipassana was held at the Thai temple. We slept on mats lined up in a row on the wooden verandah under mosquito nets and weren’t allowed to leave the grounds which were surrounded by a large cream painted high block wall that you couldn’t see over with padlocked wire gates. During the day, starting at 6am, we rotated between 45 mins of either sitting, standing or walking mindful meditation. Every second day we’d have a 1hr group session with an instructor when we were allowed to talk. I’d love to say ..and just like Buddha I became enlightened in Bodh Gaya… lol, that was not my experience, I found the first few days very challenging as I didn’t like the feeling of being physically locked in, I kept looking through the wire gates to the world outside. I was having terrible trouble sitting still, then couldn’t stay awake, and the person’s breathing next to me was driving me nuts, oh what a time I had. Nevertheless by the end of the 10 days I had gained a deeper understanding of mindfulness, of being aware of the senses and am soooo grateful to have learned how walking can be used as a meditation.
It was my daily mindful walks, with my two dogs (some of you know my black and white border collie, Pip, and old Paddy who has since passed) around the streets of Stawell that kept me going whilst being treated for Stage IV Lymphoma. It was a challenging time. I was living on my own in a rural Victorian town where I didn’t really know anyone, being treated with high dosage chemotherapy, going through menopause and recently separated. It was during this time I faced the dark night of the soul and totally surrendered. And wow how things changed after that. At the start of 2019 I found myself enrolled in a 600hr Sharing and Learning Satyananda teacher training course where I was finally, at age 52, able to satisfy my desire to learn more about yoga, as the trip to India hadn’t quite done the job. I also found a place to live just up the road from the Rocklyn Yoga Ashram where I could work on healing my damaged body and mind.
The course, which included the study of both Hatha and Raja Yoga, provided me with the reading material I’d been seeking and that, combined with the practical classes, really helped me gain a more in depth understanding of what Yoga is. I have since completed a Karma Yoga course also with Sharing and Learning Yoga.
The course funnily enough also required me to teach, except I wasn’t doing the course to become a teacher, I just wanted to learn more about yoga for purely selfish reasons. I was so nervous about teaching, I didn’t feel I knew enough, I was full of self-doubt, and battling with the want to be able to teach perfectly. I was very fortunate to be near the Ashram where I was kindly provided the opportunity to practice teaching once a week, on a regular basis. Slowly, slowly, little by little, the regularity of teaching, combined with a regularity of practice (Abhyasa), positive feedback from those attending the classes, and the practice of patience (Dhairyam), my confidence teaching has grown. I still have plenty of doubts and fears but I’m learning to teach with them by my side (Pratyaksham), after all they are just thoughts.
It was on a daily mindful walk in the Wombat State Forest I had an inspiration to combine my love of bushwalking, yoga and the piano into a business that might help people. I then spent many more hours, whilst walking and horse riding, developing the concept. In December 2020, 30 years after attending my first yoga class, I launched Yogabout. Yogabout offers 2 & 3 day Getaways that provide the opportunity for participants to immerse themselves in nature, to awaken the senses on guided forest walks, and to rediscover themselves whilst practicing gentle yoga (asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), meditation, yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and listening to relaxing live piano combined with healing sound bowls.
There are weekends with short (4km), medium (8km) or long (16km) walks to suit individual energy/fitness levels, and the gentle yoga classes are suitable for beginners to advanced and all body and ability types, including the over 50's. We stay at the Rocklyn Yoga Ashram so participants can soak up the calming atmosphere and experience what it’s like to be at an authentic Ashram including participating in a Saturday Havan (healing fire ceremony).
Yogabout Getaway dates for 2021 are:
Short walks May 29/30, Aug 7/8, Dec 11/12
Medium walks June 11/13, Oct 30/1 Nov
Long walks Sept 24/26
On a recent Yogabout Getaway I asked guests via a feedback form how they felt on arrival and at the end of the retreat. On arrival they were stressed, tired, lethargic, anxious, nervous, tired, unhappy, sad (grief) and relieved to be at the retreat. At the end of the retreat they felt content, calm, centred, grounded, connected, equipped, relaxed, refreshed and their mind was more quiet. I was so pleased, Yogabout had achieved what I wanted it to, which was to provide people with the opportunity to relax and find some inner peace.
For more detailed information about Yogabout and the Getaways offered please go to the website https://www.yogabout.com.au or phone Anne on 0477 439 545