There’s no doubt that our minds are overstimulated and constantly on the go in today’s world, leaving us feeling stressed, anxious and depressed. Before I set out on my yoga teacher training journey, I was working flat-out in advertising, constantly feeling tired and exercise was the last thing on my to-do list. I felt completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with not just my job, but my life outside of work too. I was binge drinking on weekends and in a bad cycle of ‘work hard and party harder’ that I didn’t want to be in. My energy, confidence and will to do anything, other than Netflix and chill, was out the window. My physical and psychological health was at an all-time low- and I knew it because I actually noticed it.
I knew my body and mind needed a change. Something more than just a holiday. There aren’t many experiences that nourish us, especially today. If you’re like me, living overseas, away from your family, means that holidays back to your home country entail a busier schedule than the one you have back at home. And then you go on getaways to discover a new country or culture, but with all the adventures planned, we still find ourselves unable to actually slow down, disconnect and re-energize. I’d been practising yoga on and off for a couple of years, and had always wanted to do a 200 hr yoga teacher training course to deepen my practice. I decided it was the right time to finally do it. So I quit my job and signed up for a 200 hour yoga teacher training course in India. It was time to work on me, and here’s what I walked away with.
Restored balance in life
The practise of yoga is holistic; it has the aim of bringing the body, mind and spirit into balance. Yoga teacher training puts you into a structured routine, a completely new one compared to what you’re used to. Your day revolves around breathing, movement, meditation, clean eating, nature – learning and holding space for all the good things your body and mind needs. It’s a chance to really unplug, relax, re-set and re-charge. It does wonders to restore your mind-body balance and get your vibe back.
Experienced a major detox
The food you eat is nourishing. Depending on where you do your yoga teacher training course, the food may vary. In Rishikesh, the whole town is vegetarian or vegan, so you won’t be able to order any meat or fish. The meals are nourishing, full of fresh local veggies and no processed stuff. We had regular meal times with foods that were made with beneficial spices and herbs, which help boost energy levels according to Ayurvedic principles. I was also forced to cut out alcohol and smoking during my trip, which was no doubt a big win for my detox.
When you’re in an ashram, you’re free from your little digital distractions. Yes, you’re obviously still allowed to use your phone and laptops outside of class, because how can you not? But you’re pretty much in class from 5:30 am to 7 pm at night, leaving you with little time to be doing the useless Instagram scroll. This really helped with giving me a chance to reflect inwards, learn more about myself (rather than my friends’ lives) and how I wanted to grow in my future.
Connected to the world around me
The combination of practising asanas, breathing techniques, meditation and eating healthily helped me to quieten my mind and realise what had actually bought me to the point of burn-out. I had been so absorbed in my world of work that I left no time for nurturing my relationships with people and the world around me.
I connected with likeminded people from totally different cultures. We had endless conversations and deep ones too. There’s something about meeting strangers when you travel, you let your guard down and create this deep bond. Maybe its because you don’t know when you’re going to see them again. Whatever it is, you really connect and learn from the beautiful souls on the adventure with you.
Yoga teacher training courses usually take place in beautiful locations. My school, Gyan Yog Breath in Rishikesh, was right opposite the mother Ganga, away from the main city. It was quiet and gave us a chance to really soak in the world around us. We took time out to watch the sunrise and sunset, see the farmers herd their cattle each day, explore the surrounding beaches, and appreciate the wildlife such as birds and elephants.
I strongly believe that my yoga teacher training experience was therapy in itself. When you’re practising yoga at least twice a day, you’re deepening your practice and learning more about your own body. Seeing your body become stronger, more flexible and discovering all ways you can connect with it makes you appreciate yourself in such a way transforms your perspective on life as a whole.
Meditation was also key to my healing process. Through meditation, you really work on purifying your thoughts. You are trained in slowing down the mind, thinking positively and getting rid of the throughs and emotions that don’t serve you anymore.
So from my experience, I’ve learnt that with continued practice of bringing awareness to the body and mind, yoga can be preventative against any future overwhelming build ups, that may lead to the signs of burn-out in the body and mind. Regular yoga practice has been proven to lower the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. A yoga teacher training in India has many health benefits and allows you to experience self-growth throughout the journey. You leave with lifelong knowledge of how to heal yourself and as you further your yoga practice, its effectiveness on your mind and body increase, offering a path to continuous therapy and improvement.