Sunday, November 15, 2015

Yogi on a Mission: The Zuna Yoga teacher training scholarship winner

by Lauren Hurst, winner of a full-tuition scholarship to the December 2015 200 hour Zuna Yoga teacher training in Cambodia 

When I was ten years old my Dad passed away due to a long battle with alcoholism.  As a child, I found it difficult to cope with losing someone so close to me, and I went through my own experience of depression and was very socially withdrawn. Unable to relate to what felt like an unravelling world around me, I came to find solace in being able to control life by restricting my eating and obsessively exercising.  When I looked in the mirror and saw only ugliness- both inside and out.  I felt an overwhelming sense of worthlessness.  “I am not good enough,” rang through my ears every second of everyday, and my biggest fear was to be "fat", because that would mean that I was even less.  This unattainable desire to be perfect, however, did nothing more than return me right back to that same unravelling feeling.  It was a cycle of self-sabotage.  In my eyes I was a failure, and what was worse was that this is how I thought everyone else saw me, too. I soon came face to face with a severe eating disorder that landed me in the inpatient care unit of the hospital for three years. A long battle of ups and downs was ahead of me.  Today, however, I can confidently say that my eating disorder is far behind me. 

Lauren teaching in Sydney
How did I get to a place where that is possible?  My best and honest answer: Yoga. When I was in my first year of university I stumbled across a yoga studio not far from where I was living. I established a regular practice almost immediately. I felt so much vulnerability and fear diving into it all, but the breakthroughs I had then, and continue to experience today, have been life-changing. I allowed the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual practice to completely sink in, and I was hooked.  Yoga has played a meaningful role in reviving my love for my body and myself, just as I am. I have learned and grown so much through my struggles and suffering, but yoga has brought me many joys and successes, as well. Yoga has helped me reach full recovery. Yoga has helped me discover who I am, and to manifest my biggest and scariest dreams, goals, and visions.

Through yoga I have come to know that my purpose is to teach those with similar experiences to my own. I want to teach those who have either an eating disorder, a poor body image, or simply a low sense of self-worth about the lessons I came to find with the practice of yoga. Eating disorders and body issues often work to create disconnection from our body, while yoga helps to encourage body awareness and connection in a nurturing way. Through the practice of yoga we are able to become more of aware of our bodies from a place of respect, acceptance, and love. The lessons I learned from yoga inspired me to participate in a one week long yoga teacher training in 2013. Since then, I have had the amazing opportunity to live and work in New Zealand and Australia, teaching various styles of yoga including hatha, yin, restorative, and power vinyasa. I currently teach at a wonderful little studio in Sydney called Yoga Sivana, and I will continue to grow my teaching schedule once I have completed this intensive 200 hour Zuna Yoga Teacher Training in Cambodia.    

Lauren teaching in Sydney
Combining my Bachelors and Masters of Social Work degrees with my passion for teaching yoga, I have recently launched Love Body Yoga. This is an initiative in partnership with BodyMatters, an eating disorder treatment center that incorporates yoga as an additional step to eating disorder recovery and a pathway to loving our bodies. Love Body Yoga inspires me to share yoga with others, encouraging them to form a healthy and appreciative relationship with their bodies and with themselves. Eventually I will open my own yoga studio and counseling practice. I will work with women with eating disorders by combining social work therapy and the practice of yoga. 

Thanks, Zuna Yoga, for the opportunity to make these goals happen and for enabling me to be a part of this yoga teacher training.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top Five reasons for a Gili Meno Yoga Teacher Training

by Sammy Garrett, 200 hour Zuna Yoga teacher training graduate

For those of you who haven’t heard of Gili Meno, it is the smallest (and in my opinion the most beautiful) of the three Gili Islands located off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. Gili Meno offers a tranquil, secluded getaway filled with beaches and nature. What more could you ask for while partaking in an intensive yoga teacher training? It’s a huge blessing that Zuna Yoga offers 200 hour Yoga Teacher Trainings in this piece of paradise. I’m one of the lucky ones who have had the joy to experience the magic first hand. Here are my Top Five reason to put Gili Meno at the top of your Yoga Teacher Training list:

1. No distractions. Imagine a world where you're surrounded by quiet and stillness. Hard to imagine, right? But such a place exists. Gili Meno has no motorized vehicles, no running engines and no honking horns, which is a stark contrast to the rest of Indonesia, even to Bali. Without any crowds (and often without any power), the island has to be one of the most serene and peaceful places I’ve experienced.

2. Sun, sand and snorkeling. The three week yoga teacher training schedule allows for down time throughout the day as well as two full days off. The crystal clear water beckons. Unlimited activities include swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling with the incredible collections of brightly colored fish and friendly turtles that call Gili Meno home. Days at the beach are topped off with a world class sunset.

3. One with nature. The rustic eco accommodation of maoMeno brings luxury and nature together in the perfect mix. Outdoor showers under the stars and an open air yoga shala intensify the whole experience. Surrounded by coconut trees, nature and bird song, maoMeno is the perfect place to deepen your yoga practice.

4. Island life and culture. From the moment you step off the boat there are numerous opportunities to get to know the animated locals and their intriguing way of life. Witness ceremonies, learn the basics of the language and join in the daily island rhythm. After the first week, the locals knew my name and greeted me warmly. Restaurant staff provide top quality service and entertainment - even inviting a group of us dance and ‘jam’ with them.

5. Ocean vibrations and sounds. The ocean's ebb and flow is constantly caressing the island, and the beautiful sound becomes a part of everyday life. Nothing beats the gentle sound of the waves crashing against the shore as you drift to sleep after a long day of asana and meditation practice. I felt so nurtured the entire time I was on the island, this allowed me to go deeper within myself and my practice.

Gili Meno, what’s not to love?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Introducing Lauren, 200 hour Cambodia yoga teacher training scholarship winner

Introducing Lauren Hurst, winner of a full-tuition scholarship to the December 2015 200 hour Zuna Yoga teacher training in Cambodia

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Social Work, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and a Masters of Social Work, all obtained in Ontario, Canada. She currently lives in Sydney. Her passion for teaching yoga draws on her academic background and interest in eating disorders and body image issues. Eating and body issues often work to create disconnection from our body, while yoga helps to encourage body awareness and connection in a nurturing way. Through the practice of yoga, Lauren has learned we are able to become more of aware of our bodies from a place of respect, acceptance, and love. This level of awareness has been life-changing for her.

Lauren stumbled upon her first yoga class almost ten years ago, and since then on has found herself at home on her mat. Yoga for her has become a way of life. It has been a gift to the body, mind, and most of all the heart. It has taught her how to love and be loved. She has learnt self-acceptance and that imperfection is perfect. Lauren has come to understand that yoga allows us to believe in something much greater than our own self, connecting us with the universe all around us.

Lauren has launched a brand new initiative with Body Matters Australasia Eating Disorder treatment center, called Love Body Yoga. Love Body Yoga introduces yoga as a step on the journey to eating disorder recovery and a pathway to loving our bodies.

Follow Lauren's yoga teacher training journey as she guest blogs for Zuna Yoga in the coming months.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Last Day of Yoga Teacher Training

by Katie-Alan Calhoun, September 2015 200 hour Bali yoga teacher training student

 Bali YTT
It's 5:30 in the morning and I've begun my short walk to the yoga studio. Hanoman Street in Ubud is still peaceful. The sky is dark and there's a slight chill in the air. Shopkeepers are emerging from their quarters, sweeping the sidewalks as they prepare for their day. As I walk to my last class of Zuna Yoga teacher training, a multitude of emotions begins to rush in. I have now spent a month in Bali during what is my first trip outside the United States, and soon I'll be returning home. 

Before coming to Bali, I experienced an astronomical shift in my life. Everything I once knew or had created in my life had been turned upside down. As the wave swept through my reality as I knew it, an immense amount of space was created. Coming to Bali and embarking on this journey with Zuna Yoga was the first step in filling this space with something wonderful and magical.

After years of searching for the right school for my yoga teacher training, I eventually found Zuna Yoga. Reading the mission statement, it was as if I had written it myself. It was love at first sight. Just as the beginning of any relationship, I was cautious, questioning my judgment and ability to make an educated decision. But as the first week came to a close, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.

Ubud Bali Now, it's the last day of training. Everyone in the group is tired from three weeks of transformation of the body and filling the intellect with so much important information. We are tired, but not broken. We are quite possibly the strongest we have ever been, internally and externally. The practice of yoga, after all, is a transformation of the mind and body. It's a process of cleaning away the debris that we have accumulated over time and polishing the raw gems of our souls to discover our true selves. 

As the sky begins to fill with light and warmth, I can't help but smile. So much of this journey to Bali has been about the simple transition between night and day. Light coming into the dark, transforming the perception of our surroundings. Every morning our world transforms. Every day I myself am transforming, learning to let go of what has been and embracing the light of the new day. Learning to let go and have faith in the light, embracing it. Slowly transforming, becoming who I am meant to be. Accepting that sometimes things in your life fall apart in order to fall into place. Letting the spaces be filled. 

The training was extremely knowledgable and powerful. I not only attained the skills necessary to teach a yoga class. I also began to discover who I was as a person and how to live a life of purpose. I discovered how to incorporate tools such as pranayama, meditation and energetics into my life to cultivate happiness and well-being. Getting to know myself and what I am capable of in this lifetime is something I take away from this yoga teacher training and will cherish forever. I am beyond grateful for this experience. Thank you Bali, thank you fellow students, thank you, thank you Zuna Yoga