by Bianca Hoogland, 200 hour Bali yoga teacher training student

Yes! I am now a Yoga Teacher! The three weeks of Zuna Yoga teacher training are finished. I have a completely new, unplanned future in front of me where amazing things are going to unfold.

In the last week of the course, a lot happened. I started each day with my own meditation every morning before class, enjoyed my lemon juice by the pool, gazed at the stars and then closed my eyes. I took a moment to ground myself and to connect to the Universe and Mother Earth. I know that I am very sensitive to group feelings and so I wanted to make sure I could stay within my own energy. That gave me a lot of peace in this week. 

We had two full yoga classes every day, for a total of almost five hours of practice. I loved it, but there were days when I was tired and spent every break resting. But it also meant two savasanas in one day, awesome! Every single savasana in these three weeks was amazing, full of energy. This week taught me a lot, and I had a lot of a-ha moments. All the theory that we had been taught suddenly fell into place. I could make the connections with my own life and experiences. 

Once in a meditation, I was annoyed. I wanted to open my eyes, to walk around, do something. My mind was making me crazy and and getting way too much attention. I kept listening to it. Suddenly I knew I had to let this go, because this was not going help me. So I dropped it and I immediately felt peace. Facing the jungle in the shala, I felt the sunshine on my skin, heard the jungle sounds and I felt calm. My mind was becoming more quiet. This moment showed me that my mind can be strong, but only if I choose to give it that much attention.

The next epiphany I had is that when I was younger, I always looked up to other people in the group. I always placed more value on others than on myself. I suddenly realized that I don’t do that anymore. I looked around in the shala and felt so much peace and happiness with myself. Everything I need, I already possess. I felt grateful for my journey so far, and I realized how much within me already changed for the better.

What I also learned (not for the first time) at this training is that we are all connected, all one. Sometimes it’s hard to feel, but in this week I felt it. I felt connected to my fellow yogis. But what I noticed this week is the reflection of myself in others. For every single yogi, I could name which part of me they reflect. Is that a part of my soul or part of my ego? Without judgment, I could feel if this part is helping me to grow and shine, or keeping me small and bound within my comfort zone. I am grateful for this insight. I deeply believe that we meet people for a reason. Whether it is a big or small lesson, relationships with other people teach us so many things. And some people move on quickly out of our lives because the lesson is learned, and others stay longer because the lesson is greater. 

This also gave me a feeling of compassion for other people. I could let go of judgments I'd made. My view of them was more clear, open and neutral. Which is so much lighter, so much lighter a burden to carry. 

The theory in the last week was about chakras and ayurveda. I loved the lectures this week the most. It made me realize how much I know already and now I was hearing another point of view, more knowledge. And I want to learn more! I am already planning to do the 300 hour training. 

We also learned the Gayatri mantra this week, one of my favorite mantras which I ‘sing’  back at home. Singing this mantra with the group at the end of the morning practice was magical. I can't describe it with more words, and that is also not what is necessary. Just enjoy, feel and no words. It was similar with the chanting of Om at the end of Everett's meditation. That meditation was deep. I felt connected to the Universe, a deep strong power inside, the real expression of the Universe. The sound vibrated deep in the core of my body, soul and being.

In the last week I felt stronger than ever. I felt my power and knew that this power has always been inside me. I felt self love and compassion, like a warming, soothing fire within me, filling up my body. That fire has definitely become brighter over the last three weeks. 

Coming to the end of the course, I looked back on all that has happened over the past two years of my life, and realize how much I have changed. This training was for me the crowning achievement of the last two years. It awakened many insights and allowed me to feel their embodiment. 

On the morning of the last practice something magical happened. Almost one year ago in Thailand, I received a single white bracelet from a monk in a temple in Chiang Mai. He blessed me and told me that I wasn't to take off the bracelet. It had to fall off on its own. In this last practice, my white bracelet fell off. I looked at it, lying there on the floor, and when I walked back to my room, I felt tears in my eyes. I felt liberation, free from my past. It is a part of me but I am now choosing not to live in or be ruled by my past. I am free. Free to go, to do what my soul longs for. The world is at my feet, which can be scary, but it gives me an amazing amount of possibilities. 

Then it was time for one more last circle with my yogis, to share our experiences. One last picture with the whole group, one last dinner with the absolute amazing food from Azadi and the incredible staff, a slideshow with pictures from the last weeks which brought tears to my eyes. A last night in this beautiful hotel, a last practice in the morning and then goodbyes. I became really close with some of these people and shared so much. Hugs for minutes, saying beautiful words and looking each other in the eyes. How I love these people. 

I would say this is the best thing that I have ever done. To isolate myself from the outer world and home, for a complete focus on myself and yoga. I am grateful for this experience.

Knowing that this was the place where I had to be. Knowing that all these people where brought together for a reason. I am going miss them, but I am looking forward to the new things that will happen.

Full of (self) love I am now leaving Ubud. With new insights and a lot of power I am looking forward to share and continue my journey. Sharing yoga, sharing experiences, sharing the feeling of being connected with their true authentic self. Because that is a feeling that I wish for everybody. 

Thanks Zuna Yoga! Thanks to my teachers Katherine, Everett, Anna Thanks Simi, Meg & Xavier and fellow Yogis! I am forever grateful.

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