Friday, February 5, 2016

Yoga teacher training: the ultimate confidence booster

by Lauren Hurst, Cambodia 200 hour yoga teacher training scholarship winner

As the one month mark approaches since completing my 200 hour Zuna Yoga teacher training, I am finally starting to put the puzzle pieces together as to what made this training so amazing.

Although this was not my first yoga teacher training and I was already teaching yoga, I had no idea just how transformational this teacher training experience with Zuna Yoga was going to be. I thought that perhaps it might change my views on my relationships, my job, my future and my life. But in such a short amount of time, I truly believe that this training allowed me to become an improved version of myself.

I used to be pretty painfully shy and really disliked speaking in front of big groups of people. Teaching has really brought such a shift in my ability to be okay doing this. However, after having completed the yoga teacher training with Zuna Yoga, my confidence levels just completely soared. Now, I stand with purpose in front of each class and I am fully present when I teach. I rarely second-guess myself when it comes to calling poses or struggle with my rhythm, the cues I use, or the words I say. This doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes - I do! But I’m actually okay with that. It allows my students to see that I’m authentic, I’m real, I’m imperfect, and I can laugh at myself. I’ve never felt so connected to my students and perhaps anyone else around me in this way. It feels amazing to stand in front of a group of people, completely being myself. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to complete my 200 hour yoga teacher training with Zuna Yoga. The teachers and assistants really know how to instill confidence in their students and send them back out in the world with a better understanding of all the things that make a yoga class extraordinary. As one the Zuna Yoga facilitators described, we learned as teachers how to ‘throw little bread crumbs’ to make our students come back for more, to peak their interest in the really good stuff in yoga. Every detail from how we cue, to the language of teaching, to the energy and prana created, to the atmosphere of the class, and to assisting has been deeply embedded into the minds of these newly certified teachers to eventually become like second nature. Our teachers were thorough in ensuring that we understood how to effectively integrate our knowledge of yoga and teaching perfectly. 

When it comes to teaching, I can honestly say that I love it. I am 100% absolutely head over heels in love with it. I look forward to teaching each class, sharing new ideas, new asana, meditation practices, and simply sharing space with others. 

A month later, I am still overwhelmed with gratitude. Zuna Yoga really ignited a fire in us as teacher trainees to strive for nothing less than being an incredible teacher. They gave us the confidence to believe that we can be more inspiring and influential that we’d ever imagined. And that is so amazing. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Reflections from Day 5, Cambodia 300 hour yoga teacher training

Sunrise Angkor Wat, watercolor by Paul Jackson

by Kay Alton, Cambodia 300 hour yoga teacher training scholarship winner

If you imagine it, it will be. That is the key. A good imagination. An ability to see what is possible. Different than wishing. Concretely imagining. Creating an image of where you want to be, where you want to go, what you want to do and with whom. If you are strong and powerful in your imagining, your sails will be full and your ship well-pointed. 

There are so many people floating through this world, through their lives. They are unanchored. Their imagination is weak. They have been swallowing the cookie cutter image they have been handed down. With each gulp becoming more complacent and further from self-realization. Compensating with worldly symbols of success, stuffing their pockets with paper castles, inflating their sense of self with car fumes and strong handshakes. Noise, color, rumbles and strong coffee becoming their savior, their morning practice.

Everyone has glimpses of stillness. In the flash of sunset, intertwined hands, a patter of water on the face...there is a potential for more...and then noise, color, rumbles and strong coffee.

What would it be like for you to let yourself paint your future in a way that allowed you to pick any color, no matter how bright? To explore the space beyond the canvas? Where would it take you? Where would you be and who would be by your side? What powerful and beautiful force would you be in the world?

Now imagine that we lived in a world filled with beings living in this way. Imagine. Imagination is the key, and it all starts with you. I imagine you closing your eyes, sitting comfortably, letting the outside noise float away as you go inward. I imagine you painting.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Returning home after Yoga Teacher Training

by Lauren Hurst, Cambodia 200 hour yoga teacher training scholarship winner

More photos from the YTT

Returning home
It has been just under two weeks since I completed my yoga teacher training in Cambodia with Zuna Yoga. I have found it quite seamless to settle back into my life in Sydney surrounded by my friends, colleagues and my partner. Everyone was thrilled to hear about the teacher training and I was eager to tell them! It has been difficult to summarize my experience of yoga teacher training in just a few words, so mostly what I find my telling others is that "it was amazing, transformative and so much more."

Setting goals
Since arriving home I’ve been in full swing, taking a really deep look into my updated goals and plans for 2016. In having the opportunity with Zuna Yoga to become aware of our purpose in life, who we are and what we’re capable of, I’ve entered a new space of being and doing for all that I want to get up to this year. I’ve rewritten my vision and have updated my 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year personal, career and health goals. Year 2016, here I come!

Noticing changes
Notably, others around me have noticed a shift in my presence, stating it to be very calm, with a sense of freedom and a fresh attitude and perspective. I can’t help but think how amazing it feels when others also recognize and acknowledge the changes I also see in myself. 

Teaching classes 
In regards to teaching classes, the Universe has certainly set me up to put all this new learning and these new teaching tools to practice. I have picked up extra classes in addition to those I already teach, and so I will have the opportunity to share some new things with all my new and regular students.

In the classes I have taught so far, the biggest shift I have noticed is in my level of confidence. With what feels like more knowledge, more vocabulary, and just more insight to share, I have noticed a positive change in my presence and ability to guide students on (and hopefully off) their mats. I have incorporated so much of what I have learnt with Zuna Yoga into my teaching, and continue to include my own style and way of teaching too. I think it’s a good combination! 

A lot has shifted here. What had been my favorite studio to take classes at somehow doesn’t quite fulfill all that I would like to incorporate in my practice. As someone who loves practicing at studios for the community vibe and to be amongst the presence of others, I have begun to incorporate many more home practices into my routine, including more pranayama and meditation than I have ever practice before. I am confident in putting together my own home class sequences and it has been a great way to really check in with what kind of practice I need from one day to another. 

I feel so grateful for being lucky enough to win the scholarship and for this incredible experience I will never forget. From now, I will continue to reflect and slowly take in all of what the yoga teacher training allowed me to learn, experience, and grow from. 

 More event photos

"I am not my body; I am not my mind. I am something much greater..."

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Year of Transformation

by Danielle Thornton, 300 hour Cambodia yoga teacher training student

As I sit in the Bangkok airport on a layover the day before meeting up with my fellow Zuna Yoga crew, I can't help but reflect on the past two weeks of solo travel, and much more on the past 15 months since completing my 200 hour Bali yoga teacher training with Zuna Yoga.

My travels throughout Thailand and Cambodia thus far have been quite the interesting ride! First, let me explain that as a very generous birthday gift, my aunt and uncle set me up in rather luxurious accommodations for a portion of this trip (for which I am very grateful). And I had booked myself in a few more modest Airbnb places in between, as I also wanted an authentic cultural experience. Little did I know the contrast of luxury and bare minimum would play such a huge part of this adventure, not only externally but also internally. I went from one night in a suite with marble floors, steam shower, silky sheets, and fancy meals to a hut in the middle of the jungle with a trough of collected rainwater, a scooping bowl for a shower, and a basic wooden bed with mosquito nets included.  

As I lay one night in the hut, paralyzed with fear, listening to a loud "sniffing" of what my imagination construed to be a tiger, the luxury I was surrounded by just one day ago seemed like an alternate reality. Ask most of my childhood friends or family -  I assure you that a couple years ago I would have probably ran out of that hut crying, never wanting to return (if I had even made it past the initial shock of the shower situation). After my adrenaline calmed down, I realized the sound I heard was merely a baby chick. I couldn't help but laugh, realizing that my level of contentment internally was the same in the hut and the luxury hotels-- regardless of the drastic difference in external circumstances. I attribute a large part of this to my yoga practice, to learning that true peace, love, contentment, authenticity, and power can be found within, through connecting to Source.  I feel that life gives us these experiences as a gift - a "measuring tool" for personal growth. I'm reminded of a favorite quote I picked up this year: "Peace, it does not meant to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." ~unknown
I'm so grateful that this teacher training has brought me to this side of the world where  I spent New Years Eve on a beach in Koh Samui, Thailand releasing a floating lantern and watching it dance over the half moon in the clear sky; to an excursion in Erawan National Park to an elephant sanctuary where I helped care for, wash, and love on elephants; that night watching the local boy scouts sing and dance to Thai songs around a large campfire; the following day a trip to marvel, play, and bathe with butterflies and fish in the majestic waterfalls, and hiking to the Phratat Caves in all their wonder and glory. There in Erawan, I created a bond and relationship with the wonderful host family, that made me feel at home in a far far away land, who cooked and taught me how to make some of the most flavorful and made-with-love Thai dishes. Ending the trip in Cambodia, where I watched in awe the sunrise over Angkor Wat, explored temples, learned about ancient wisdom, mythology, and history; explored the floating village of Chong Kneas, and had the best curry of my life, a local dish called Fish Amok. 

If I had to pick one word to describe the last year since completing my 200 hour teacher training, it would be transformation.  When arranging to go to Bali for my initial training, I didn't quite have a solid reason or clear intention other than that I really liked to travel, and I really liked yoga. A part of me was also wanting to run from the monotony of everyday life, a running theme I've found to be a pattern in the past. But this time, the nature of my travel and 300 hour yoga teacher training is much different: it's with purpose and clear intention.  I realized that I have created a life that I love, a job teaching that I find so fulfilling, enhanced deeper relationship with myself and therefore with loved ones new and old, and finding myself apart of a community that I find lovely and inspiring. Most days seeing life out of a clearer lens/perspective, making small and big decisions out of love rather than fear. Don't get me wrong, as I still have darker days and parts of myself, but take it differently than before. There is beauty in the darkness as well as the light. Finding it no longer scary to explore those darker parts, working to keep steady, yet moving with the tide of emotions that run through, knowing that nothing in this life is permanent. 

This brings me back to one of my favorite things about what can come of a personal yoga practice; it's always there, always available, on the light and not so light days. Practicing inner contentment, joy and authenticity, whether in the hut or luxury hotel.  It can be ever-changing, evolving, growing; never stagnant or constrained ... as is this life.

So this time, my clear intent is to use this training as another building block from my initial foundation. Implementing the tools for freedom and life mastery one moment at a time, one day at a time. First filling myself up, and then spreading it in my classes, daily interactions, relationships, even the world. Ambitious, I know, but I'll end with a quote that I'm sure most of you have heard and can always stand to hear again. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi